Category Archives: Uncategorized

A fantastic final few days of Wimbledon, as Djokovic and Kerber re-ascend (but that 26-24 fifth set was obscene). The inside story of the amazing Thai cave rescue. And in honor of Putin-Trump meeting, two great U.S.-U.S.S.R. clips

Every year, on the Sunday night after Wimbledon ends, I feel a little sad. Because two glorious weeks of tennis are over, on the most hallowed grounds of the sport, and it won’t come around for another year. (Though having the U.S. Open be only six weeks away does make me feel a little better).

But tonight I’m feeling fired up about tennis because of the return of Novak Djokovic, long my second favorite player (behind some guy with the initials RF). Djokovic is hardly beloved among fans, and I can see why some find him irritating (his exhortations, his snippiness with crowds, his constant ball-bouncing before a serve).

But I love the guy, because I think he’s genuine, always gives credit to his opponents, and because in this age of Federer and Nadal, two of the five greatest players ever, he’s found a way to thrive and become a legend himself.

Djokovic has had a terrible last couple of years in tennis; he was injured, he changed coaches a bunch (even firing Andre Agassi), and hardly seemed like his old self.

But the last few days at Wimbledon … man. He beat Rafael Nadal in five pulsating sets Friday and Saturday (a match played over TWO days, and I’ll rant about that in a moment), truly an extraordinary match, one of the best you’ll ever see.

Then he beat Kevin Anderson in the finals Sunday, who was totally gassed from his ridiculous semifinal win. Djokovic cried after the win, and watched his 3-year-old son cheer him on from the players’ box, and it was beautiful.

The sport is better when Nadal, Federer and Djokovic are all playing their best. They’re all pretty close to that now, which is why Wimbledon was so phenomenal this year.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams fell just short of winning her first Slam as a Mom, losing in the finals to Angie Kerber. Serena is still not my cup of tea, but she really does seem to have matured a lot in the last few years, with her attitude and behavior on court. She was completely gracious after the match, and motherhood really does seem to have softened her. I fully expect Serena to win the U.S. Oen.

OK, couple more Wimbledon thoughts and then I promise no more tennis here until the Open:

— So the reason Kevin Anderson was exhausted Sunday was because he had to play an insane 50 games in the fifth set against John Isner in the semis Friday. The two men played a 26-24 fifth set, because Wimbledon refuses to use a tiebreaker, and makes players win final sets by two.
Absolutely ridiculous, in a semifinal of a Grand Slam, to make people have to play 6.5 hours. For the love of fans, players and the sport, give us a final-set tiebreaker! Do it at 9-all, or 12-all, or even 14-all. But please, do it! Anderson had nothing left Sunday, the length of the match forced the Nadal-Djokovic semi to be played over two days (because of the silly but charmingly quaint 11 p.m. curfew at Wimbledon, no matches can continue past that hour), and the women’s final was delayed as well.

Just so unnecessary. Let them finish and not destroy their bodies in the process.

— Anderson-Isner was compelling, but not particularly exciting tennis. At some point you have to admire their stamina. And how about the blatter stamina of the chair umpire, Marija Cicak, who didn’t get one bathroom break in the whole match. She should get a trophy for that.

— Finally, a few quick words about Federer: Sure it was disappointing to see him lose to Anderson in the quarterfinals. But for most of the tournament this almost-37 year-old played great, and I fully expect him to be in the finals of the U.S. Open in a few weeks. He’s far, far from done.

**Next up, by now you know all about the incredible rescue of the 12 Thai soccer players and their coach from a cave, by some incredibly heroic SEAL’s and emergency personnel. But the inside story of how these boys were able to be saved is incredible; this New York Times article is fantastic, providing details of how duct tape was so important, how luck played a part, and how so many things had to come together to save the boys.

“I still can’t believe it worked,” one of the rescue operation leaders said. Truly, a wonderful story of teamwork. And this NYT piece takes you inside the cave, with graphics, videos and so much more. Multimedia journalism at its best.

**Finally today, President Man-baby is meeting with his bestie, Vladimir Putin, today, and God only knows what will happen. Wouldn’t surprise me to find out that by Monday night we’re now co-countries with Russia, or that Putin has agreed to be Trump’s running mate in 2020.

Given the uncertainty, I feel like today is a good time to watch these two clips; let’s call them “Great Moments in U.S.-U.S.S.R. history.”

First, a little hockey game in 1980 was played between the two countries. How’d that turn out again?

And then, in what I feel is an equally important moment in Cold War history, we have our greatest heavyweight boxing champion ever, a lefthander out of the fighting city of Philadelphia, Rocky Balboa, single-handedly bridging the divide between two nations with a stirring speech. (Truly my favorite part of this wonderful, ridiculous scene is at 1:26, when the first Politburo guy stands up and almost can’t believe he’s applauding.)

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The woman in San Diego who feeds schoolkids and homeless people gets an awesome surprise. The Dad who saved the ballet recital. And the baby who loved her Dad’s guitar playing so much

And a Happy Friday, amigos. Super-pumped up today to watch Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic tangle in the Wimbledon semis, though they’ll be hard-pressed to match the amazing Wimbledon men’s quarters on Wednesday. So much ugliness in the world again this week (“NATO? Who needs NATO?”) but there is so much good out there as well, including those amazing rescue workers who saved the entire Thai soccer team and their coach trapped in a cave. What a miraculous, amazing job done by those SEAL’s and emergency personnel.

I want to start Good News Friday this week with a different kind of hero, but one equally deserving of live: Debra Davis is an angel of a woman living in San Diego, who not only serves lunch to hungry high school kids there, but drives around after that in a beat-up old car serving food (paid for by herself) to homeless people.

Ms. Davis has been beloved for years, but finally the community got together and showed her love in a tangible way. As always, Steve Hartman of “CBS Sunday Morning” delivers the beautiful goods.

What a woman. Her reaction at the end is just priceless.

**Next up today, this went viral in the last few weeks for a very good reason: It’s fabulous. Two-year-old Bella Daniels wasn’t having a good time at her first ballet recital, screaming and crying while her little partners were dancing great. But Bella’s Dad Marc, with Bella’s baby brother in his arms, came out to rescue her and put on one hell of a performance.

Seriously, he got all the steps and moves right! So great. No dance they do at her wedding will be as good. Check out the jumps at the 2:01 mark, perfect!

True fatherhood: Making a fool of yourself on stage to save your child. Beautiful.

**And finally today, another father-daughter musical video that I loved, this one sent to me by my Dad. Check out what happens when this father begins to play Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” on guitar for his baby girl. Sadly, my 8-month-old has not responded the same way to my killer air guitar on “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”

Still, this baby rules. Enjoy your weekend.

I’m aghast about America, Part 4,323: Have you heard about this World Health/breastfeeding story? A daughter’s hilarious tweet from her Dad’s phone. And David Simon is blisteringly good about the Annapolis shooting

My good friend Jeff has said to me on numerous times in the past two years how he admires that I mostly manage to stay even-keel about all the atrocities being committed in the Trump administration.

Oh, of course I get extremely pissed about the separation of children from their families at the border, and the rampant corruption in this White House, and just how amazingly destructive Scott Pruitt was able to be in his short time as head of the EPA. But generally, I try really, really hard not go crazy about every horrible thing.

But this story I read in The New York Times Sunday just sent me over the edge. Maybe you heard about it, but likely not. It’s about a completely non-controversial resolution from the World Health Organization about encouraging breastfeeding. Here’s the lede to the story, and please, try to contain your outrage for a moment.

A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.

Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.

American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.

The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from several countries, many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States.

Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.

In the end, the Americans’ efforts were mostly unsuccessful. It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure — and the Americans did not threaten them.

THIS IS INSANE. So many parts of this story are horrible, but how about threatening military aid to Ecuador if they don’t withdraw the resolution? Really, that’s what we’re going to do over a freaking breastfeeding promotion resolution???

And the part about Russia introducing the measure and all of a sudden the U.S. not objecting is just too priceless. Gee, I wonder why Russia would somehow get favored but not Ecuador?

I mean, I just cannot deal with this. I said on Twitter right after I read this that it’s truly astonishing on how many issues the U.S. is now standing alone from the world. I mean…breast milk is now a reason to threaten another nation?

Good God, are there no depths to which our President and his administration will not sink, no issue on which they won’t bully? Just awful. And outrageous.

**Next up today, I thought this was pretty hilarious. Hockey writer Sean McIndoe Tweeted this the other day: “My daughter just asked to borrow my phone and when I got it back she had texted this to my wife, please advise.”

This is what young McIndoe texted:

Pretty freaking funny if you ask me. When a reader asked how old his daughter was, McIndoe replied “As old as she’s gonna get.”

**Finally today, I wanted to point you to a phenomenal piece of writing, a blistering screed, by the great David Simon, creator of ‘The Wire,” and many other wonderful things.

Simon is writing about the five people murdered at the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Maryland last week, and he is writing passionately and brilliantly about how just because this specific shooter had multiple motives to inflict violence against the newspaper doesn’t mean Donald Trump and the culture of hatred and poison toward the media he’s spewing isn’t toxic.

This is just an excerpt, but I highly recommend reading the whole thing (hat tip to loyal reader Sanford for first pointing me to this.) This section is right after Simon talked about the two dead who he knew personally:

These are the people I see when I think of the president declaring time and again for the villainy of journalists, or when I read the online screeds of his followers and devotees validating or excusing the insanity, stepping sideways from the pathetic spectacle of a United States President using his bully pulpit to, well, bully the free press of a republic.  It is a reach to claim — and so I have not — that Donald Trump contemplated all of what was to come when he began his prolonged campaign against the American press. I don’t think he imagined the blow landing on Rob Hiaasen or John McNamara or the other committed journalists murdered with them, or that the violence would explode at a community-based newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, or even that the reckoning for his adversaries in the press would be so lethal. I don’t think Donald Trump imagines very much at all. But premeditation is scarcely required for a verdict of gross negligence — for me to say, deliberately and dispassionately, that this empty, soulless man, in his unfitness for the high office, in his petty rancor and heedless verbiage, purposely created a climate that helped to murder my friends.

Fabulous, necessary stuff from David Simon.

The new Mr. Rogers documentary is wonderful, please go see it. And it’s Manic Monday at Wimbledon!

The year was 1969, and as you may have heard or experienced, America was rife with racial animosity. There were so many divisions between African-Americans and whites, so many points of contention, but one of the most offensive had to have been white people’s insistence that blacks swim in their own pools.

“How can we have these Negroes doing the breaststroke and dog paddling in the same water as our pure, clean white boys? Won’t the black kids and adults dirty up and make our water impure? Heaven forbid people of different races swim and have fun together!”

It was horrible, racist thinking, and so many in their own way did their part to fight injustice.

Some did it in huge ways. Others, in ways that seemed small but were really so, so big.

Fred Rogers had a TV show in 1969. Maybe you’ve heard of it. He was disgusted by the racism illustrated by separate swimming pools, and so on his new TV show, he decided to make a point. He invited the African-American police officer character, Officer Clemmons, to sit down in his TV backyard. They get to talking and Rogers mentions how hot the day is, and wouldn’t it be nice to cool down and soak your feet in a little kiddie pool there on the lawn.

Rogers does it, and invites Officer Clemmons to do so as well. And in a minute there are two men, one white and one black, sharing the same pool.

For millions of American children to see.

It was a wonderful moment in a career filled in them. (This episode here was the two men re-enacting the famous original episode, 25 years later; fast forward to the 6:30 mark to see it.) And it was just one amazing, heartwarming story in the new documentary about Fred Rogers, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

I got a chance to see it in the theaters last Thursday, and it was remarkable. Poignant, funny, smart and oh-so emotional (bring the Kleenex, you’ll need it), it was a portrait of a man, and a TV program, that changed America.

You learn so much in this fabulous film from director Morgan Neville (who also did the fantastic movie “20 Feet from Stardom,”), from people like Fred’s widow, his two sons, and people who knew him best. We get glimpses into how he created Daniel Striped Tiger (the inspiration for whom is now “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” a great kids show my 3-year-old watches all the time) and other make-believe friends; how he decided to give up the show for a while in the 1970s to try to make programming for adults, and how he became such a voice of calm in the time of tragedy (his programs after the Challenger space shuttle explosion, and after RFK’s assassination, stand out in the film as extraordinary.)

He took on so many issues for kids, like divorce, and getting lost, and talked to us always in such a calm, reassuring way. He told us we mattered, and we were loved, and that’s so important for kids to hear.

I can’t praise this movie enough, and honestly wished it was longer. (I particularly loved that he seemed to get a chuckle out of Eddie Murphy’s brilliant “Saturday Night Live” parody of his show, “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood.”)

There was no need to shine up or polish over the negative parts of Fred Rogers’ life, because there were so, so few. (There was one significant bit of homophobia Rogers displayed, but I won’t go into too much detail about that, the film handles it well.)

I can’t think of a better tonic if you’re feeling bad about the current state of our world. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is hopefully playing somewhere near you.

What a wonderful human being he was. A credit to the human race.

**Finally today, this is one of the most special and fabulous days of the year for tennis fans. It’s Manic Monday at Wimbledon, and no, that doesn’t mean all the fans at the All England Club dance around to the great Bangles tune of that name.
No, Manic Monday is when all Round of 16 matches on both the men’s and women’s sides get played all on the same day. Wimbledon is the only one of the Grand Slam events that does the Round or 16 like this, and it creates a wonderful viewing experience for TV.

Now usually, there are firecracker matchups on both the men’s and women’s side, but there have been so many big upsets in the first week that there aren’t as many this year. Still, we’ve got Federer, Nadal and Djokovic all playing, and a terrific story in young American and UCLA grad Mackie McDonald, who’s never won three matches in any ATP pro tournament yet is in the fourth round of Wimbledon, stunningly.

And on the women’s side we’ve got Serena, who absolutely looks like the favorite now that nine of the top 10 women’s seeds have lost, and terrific stories in Alison Van Uytvanck (one of the only openly gay women’s players on tour) and Angie Kerber.

ESPN, God love them, devotes two channels to Wimbledon on Manic Monday. So yeah I’ll be glued for a few hours (Asking for a friend: I don’t really HAVE to pick up the 3-year-old from camp on time, right? An hour or two more waiting for Daddy builds character, doesn’t it?)

But seriously, while you’re here, check out this phenomenal little video from ESPN’s Chris Fowler, on what it looks like inside the Centre Court TV booth. So cool to get this view…

Good News Friday: The African-American kid who had the cops called on him because he was mowing a lawn? He gets the last laugh. A father’s hilarious method of riding a roller-coaster with his toddler. And a brand-new doctor saves a life on a plane.

Happy Friday, y’all! Hope this abbreviated holiday week finds you well (always confusing when a holiday falls on a Wednesday, do people take the weekend before it off, or the weekend after, or both? I vote for both but what do I know, most of my work Thursday was spent trying to keep the 3-year-old from falling off the kitchen chairs, and seeing if the 8-month-old could crawl across the carpet without bonking his head on the coffee table. I love my life!).

In addition to the wonderful and long overdue news Thursday that Scott Pruitt has resigned as head of the EPA, I have lots of other happy stuff to share today, including that American men are doing awesome at Wimbledon (as I type this five are still alive as we enter the third round).

First, I want to start with my new favorite father. He decided to take his toddler daughter, Kayla, on a virtual roller coaster ride. He put her in a laundry basket, loaded a pretty scary-looking coaster video simulator on his TV, and voila, we have the awesome video below.

This is fantastic, and as close as I ever want to get to riding that roller coaster.

**Next up today, maybe you’ve heard the unconscionable number of times lately that white people have been calling the police on African-Americans, for no reason at all. It’s happened when black individuals have been opening the door to their own apartment, for having a cookout in a public park, and most amazingly, the police were called on an 8-year-old girl selling water “without a permit.”

It happened again recently when 12-year-old African-American boy Reggie Fields and his brother were hired by a woman outside Cleveland to mow their lawn.

As they were working, a white neighbor called the police on them, concerned they were trespassing on her property.

The matter was quickly cleared up, but all the attention has inspired Reggie (who calls his business, delightfully, “Mr. Reggie’s Lawn Cutting Service) to decide to try to start a landscaping business with his brothers and cousins.

And because America is still a great place, a GoFundMe page created to help young Mr. Fields has already raised $37,000 to help him start his business.

From the Buzzfeed story: “Reggie’s mom, Brandy Marie Fields, told BuzzFeed News that she was surprised to see so many people respond to the video this last week. Her son has received support from all over the world, she said.

“They’re just so supportive, because, they said, no 12-year-old should ever have to go through that — period.”

So much more good than bad in the world. So, so much.

**And finally today, how about a hand for a good new doctor, in the right place at the right time. From the great site GoodNewsNetwork.org, comes the tale of Dean LaBarba, who graduated medical school at Loma Linda (Calif.) University School of Medicine a month ago.

On a 12-hour flight from Zurich to Los Angeles with his wife last month when a female passenger sitting close to them said that she didn’t feel well. Before she could get up to use the restroom, she collapsed.

LaBarba immediately rushed to the woman’s side only to find that she didn’t have a pulse. He tried massaging her sternum as a means of improving blood flow – but to no avail.

With the help of another passenger, he had the woman lie across a row of seats so he could begin chest compressions. After six pushes, she started to regain consciousness.

LaBarba, his wife, and the passenger were moved to first class where the newly-graduated doctor monitored her health.

“I remained at her side continually checking on her and asking if she felt any abdominal pain, chest pain, nausea or leg cramps,” LaBarba said. “It’s hard to say what happened in those 15 seconds after she collapsed, but I think she may have experienced a syncope episode.”

A syncope episode is when someone faints as a result of a drop in heart rate or blood pressure. Though the woman was shaken, she made it through the following 10 hours of the flight without any incident.

What a wonderful story. LaBarba was the only doctor on the flight filled with 300 passengers.

That woman is alive because LaBarba was on the flight, too.  You never know when life calls you into action, right?

Happy 4th of July, and we should all listen to “America The Beautiful.” The guy who tried to pay a waitress with a credit card he stole (from her). And Christina Aguilera busking with Jimmy Fallon at a subway station.

Happy Fourth of July, people of America! I hope you all enjoy some grilled meat, the cold beverage of your choice, and for the love of all things Jason-Pierre Paul, don’t play with firecrackers. Hell, I burned my hand on a sparkler when I was 4 and I haven’t come near a lit object on Independence Day since (seriously, it really freaking hurt.)

Anyway, Wimbledon has started and most of us have the day off and so let’s start with a pretty cool Fourth of July video I like to share when I remember to.

Very simply, Ray Charles doing “America The Beautiful” cannot be topped, ever, by anyone, in my book.

For all that’s wrong in this country, and right now, there’s so much, there is also so much that’s good. And this song always reminds me of that.

Take it away, Mr. Charles…

**Next up, we had a great stupid criminals story on Monday about those two yahoos at the gas station in Canada, but this stupid criminal story may be even better.

We travel to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where a genius named Shamon West decided to break into a woman’s car that had just pulled into a local gas station. West stole her purse, which of course contained her driver’s license and credit card, while the victim was inside buying things.

Two days later, the 21-year-old West was eating at a restaurant when he handed the waitress the stolen credit card he’d pilfered.

And the waitress, Flora Lunsford, was the owner of the car he’d broken into, and whose name and picture was of course ON THE CREDIT CARD.

Also, and I cannot stress this enough, this quote from a police spokesperson after West was arrested:

“As a side note, the driver’s license, as all do, had her picture on it. Therefore, you would think he should have known what she looked like. Yet, he still handed her own credit card to her.”

I laughed so hard when I heard this. I mean, first of all, Shamon, sweetheart, wouldn’t it have been a good idea to use the stolen credit card somewhere else? And Shamon, maybe take a quick look at the face on the card before you hand it over?

I mean, from Shamon’s perspective, though, the least Flora could’ve done is swiped her credit card for him, and bought him a meal. I mean, he was going straight to jail, and we know he’s not getting any good meals in there.

Oh, stupid criminals make the world so much brighter.

**And finally today, I haven’t seen one of these Jimmy Fallon “busking in disguise in the NYC subway” videos in a while, and they always make me smile (And they make me miss the subway, which I know sounds weird to many of you. But I did love riding the NYC subway.)

This was a recent performance Fallon did with Christina Aguilera outside the 50th Street station in Manhattan, and as with all of these, I’m not at all surprised that a crowd formed, because anybody who can sing gets a crowd. What I love is the shocked expressions on spectators’ faces.

Also, Miss Aguilera has an amazing voice.

 

The best “stupid criminal” surveillance video you’ll ever see. LeBron leaves Cleveland again, this time for L.A. And I’m bummed. And the funniest parent Tweets from those who’ve been there

It’s Monday, it’s 1,000 degrees here in New York, and nobody is thrilled to be at work, or wherever you’re reading this (I’m thrilled today because Wimbledon is starting, but I realize not all of you share my enthusiasm. Roger’s quest for Slam 21 is on!).

My point is, I think we all need to see this video (below). It’s of a couple of not-so-bright criminals, in Alberta, Canada, last week, who originally were just in trouble for trying to use a stolen credit card.

But watch what happens when the man and his girlfriend first get accosted by police, and please, if you’ve ever taken my advice on anything, watch at least until the 2:01 mark, where your humble blogger burst out laughing the first 12 or 13 times I watched this.

Ah, stupid criminals. They make me smile so often.

**Next up today, my wife saw this on Facebook the other day and it was so damn funny I had to share it with most parents I know.

It’s a collection of 37 hysterical parenting Tweets, from the website SlapLaughter.com, that anyone raising kids can relate to.

There are so many brilliant ones, and I highly encourage  you to read them all here, but I’ve pasted three of my favorites below. First up…

Then I also loved this one…

But as good as those were, this one was my absolute favorite and made me laugh the hardest, because I 100 percent believe this to be true:

**Finally today, LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of all time.
LeBron James, this fall, will be playing for the fourth different team in his NBA career.

Something about those two sentences just doesn’t feel right. I know players have the right to play wherever they want, and free agency is a beautiful thing since athletes shouldn’t be forced to compete in a city or franchise they don’t want to, but I mean, really, LeBron?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Sunday evening it was announced that LeBron had spurned Cleveland for the second time, and was signing with the Los Angeles Lakers.

After all the talk in 2014 about how “Northeast Ohio will always be home,” from LeBron, and how much he talked and talked and talked the last four years about his love for Cleveland, and his family is happy there, and he doesn’t ever want to leave again… he decided to leave again.

I dunno, just seems… weird.
My good friend Tony, though, as big a LeBron lover as I am, saw it different. He told me Sunday night in a text that, look, he’s got a terrible owner in Cleveland, a screwed-up front office, not much talent around him, and he’s tired of carrying the load for them. He goes to L.A., lives the Hollywood life, has some good  young talent on his team like Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, and maybe they get another superstar to come play with him.

In other words, Tony says, you can’t blame LeBron. Guy won a title for the Cavs, and dragged a terrible roster all the way to the NBA Finals last year.

Maybe Tony’s right. But you know, the Western Conference is WAY harder than the East. Golden State and Houston are still damn good, and there are good young teams like Utah and Minnesota coming. And there’s no guarantee the Lakers will be better than Cleveland was this year.

So, I guess we’ll see. As a big LeBron fan, though, I was disappointed to see him move along, inevitable as some thought it would be.

I’ll still root for him, but playing on four teams in one career, for the greatest player ever will always seem odd to me.

 

Good News Friday: The blind and deaf soccer fan who “saw” the World Cup thanks to an amazing friend. Amid so much darkness, a bright new political light scores a huge upset in N.Y. And a janitor in England gets a wonderful surprise

I know it’s Good News Friday but every once in a while real life intervenes, and I could not in good conscience write something today without talking (briefly, at least) about the awful, horrible tragedy in Annapolis, Md., Thursday afternoon, when a man walked into the newsroom of the Capital Gazette-Times and murdered five people.

There is so much I could and want to say about this tragedy, about how the profession I love so much is in mourning tonight as I write this. But I’m not sure how coherent I’d be on it. So I’ll leave my thoughts on the subject for another day, and simply print the thoughts of two journalists I read on Twitter Thursday night.

First, from veteran TV producer Kyle Feldscher:  “The Times-Picayune kept working while Katrina destroyed their homes. WDBJ didn’t stop working when two of its reporters were murdered on air. KHOU-11 kept filming as their offices flooded during Harvey. The Capital Gazette will put out a paper tonight.

You cannot stop us.”

And then this, from veteran reporter Brian Shane:

What we call “the media” may include a few major newspapers and national TV networks, but mostly, it’s hundreds of small-town news operations like . They are part of the communities they cover. They’re your friends and families. Not some “enemy.” Please remember that.”

Thank you for reading. On with the good news… 

There are always wonderful human interest stories coming out of major international sporting events, and for as much as corrupt organizations like FIFA and the International Olympic Committee try to ruin them, it’s the human element that shines through.

Sometimes the humanity comes from a player or coach, but often it comes from fans. Check out this wonderful example of one person helping another feel joy. The Colombian soccer team advanced to the Round of 16 by winning on Thursday, and I know of at least one person who was overjoyed.

Jose Richard Gallego loves his country’s team as much as anyone. But he can neither see nor hear them play, for at age 9 he contracted a serious disease that robbed him of his hearing and sight.

Still, he watches the games now, thanks to a remarkable friend of his named Cesar. Cesar learned sign language, and according to this amazing story by Sky News, holds Jose’s hands and through a complicated series of moves and gestures, describes the action to his friend.

It’s a beautiful, beautiful story.

**Next up today, there was a monumental political upset in New York this week, as a 28-year-0ld former bartender named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a Democratic primary for Congress over longtime and powerful incumbent Joe Crowley.

Crowley hadn’t been even challenged in more than a decade, he’d been in Congress since 1999. But a determined woman with a small army of supporters beat back an establishment, corporate Democrat who frankly deserved to be defeated.

Ocasio-Cortez’s bio video introducing herself to voters was amazing; watch and see how well she connects and appeals to the people in her community.

What a rising star she is, and a beacon of hope.

**And finally today, a small story that feels so big to the people in it.  A janitor at a college in England called the University of Bristol named Herman Gordon was always known as a happy man, walking around campus.

But students learned he hadn’t been able to afford to fly back to Jamaica to see his family in four years. So they held a fundraiser and came up with enough money to let Herman and his wife fly home for a week-long vacation.

Watch this video, and Herman’s reaction. Pure goodness.

 

The despicable stolen seat on the Supreme Court comes home to roost. And America should be ashamed. A man who returned orange juice and then won the lottery. And a political ad that will inspire and give hope.

Disgusted and fed up and outraged all over again. That’s how I felt Tuesday afternoon, as the latest Supreme Court decisions rolled in at the end of the term.

I thought I’d used up all my indignation and shock about the unbelievable, unethical and in all other ways wrong behavior by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans in 2016, absolutely refusing to even meet with Obama Supreme Court Justice nominee Merrick Garland.

I was as angry about that baldly unconstitutional and completely unprecedented decision as I’d been in years, probably since the failure of anything getting done on gun control after the Sandy Hook school massacre.

I could not believe that McConnell and Co. were allowed to just refuse a President’s nominee on zero grounds, and I was infuriated that Democrats like Obama and Hillary Clinton didn’t march out Merrick Garland at every single rally the entire year, point to him, and say “This is what happens if Republicans are allowed to control government, and the Supreme Court is in dangerous hands if we let them block Merrick Garland. We cannot let Donald Trump become President.”

And yet … McConnell did get away with it. And Hillary didn’t talk about it every day, didn’t schlep Garland around the country, and slowly this unbelievable heist of a Supreme Court seat was allowed to happen.

Because then Trump became President, and he nominated Neil Gorsuch, and this week Gorsuch and his four fellow Conservatives have done quite a lot to hurt America.

From ruling that decidedly-prejudiced state voting district maps drawn by the GOP in North Carolina and Texas were fine, and ruling that Trump’s racist travel ban for tourists from certain Muslim countries was a-OK, to ruling unconstitutional a California law that required “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide abortion literature… all of it, ALL of IT, was only made possible thanks to Merrick Garland’s nomination being completely and 100 percent blockaded.

I get so furious with politics sometimes, and with candidates who run bad races (Hillary Clinton, I’m looking at you) because these are the results.

It is an absolute abomination what happened to Merrick Garland in 2016. And the ramifications of it will be felt for a long, long time.

**Next up today, this story cracked me up, and will certainly appeal to my best friend Clay, God love him, maybe the thriftiest man alive with a nickel (he might get mad at me for saying that but it’s 100 percent true; he’d walk five miles to save a nickel).

Meet Tayeb Souami, a 55-year-old New Jersey man. On May 19, he came home to his wife with a $5 bottle of orange juice from his local Hackensack, N.J. ShopRite store. But Souami’s wife told him that she’d found the same brand on sale for $2.50 elsewhere, so she sent Tayeb back to the store (we’ve all been there, right guys?)

What happened next was amazing: From the Washington Post: “Souami dutifully trudged back to the store in Hackensack, N.J. —  OJ and receipt in hand.

But at the customer service counter, he saw a sign for the Powerball jackpot, which had ballooned to $306 million at that point, according to video of Souami’s news conference.

He liked the number and was feeling lucky, so he purchased two tickets using the money he got from the returned orange juice and mostly forgot about the lottery for the rest of the day.”

Well, of course you can guess what happened next: Tayeb won the PowerBall jackpot, and took the $183 million lump sum payment that went with it.

His life is forever changed, all because his wife wanted him to get the orange juice for cheaper.

What an incredible story, and good for the 55-year-old African immigrant.

Of course, the real moral of the story? Always listen to your wife.

**And finally, I was looking for a little political palatte-cleanser after the Supreme Court news on Tuesday, and happily found it on my friend Jeff Pearlman’s Facebook feed.

This may be one of the best political ads I’ve ever seen. Meet MJ Hegar, a former Army pilot shot down over Afghanistan in 2009 who is now running for Congress in a Texas district that’s solidly Republican.

I have no idea if Hegar will win, but this ad is amazing, and inspiring, and gives me some hope. It’s been viewed more than 2 million times already since it debuted last week.

 

Paul McCartney does an emotional, amazing turn on “Carpool Karaoke.” My good friends at FOJ stand up for what’s right, on national TV. And “Insomnia Jeopardy” cracked me up

As much as I thoroughly enjoy them, most episodes of James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” on his CBS late-night show are pretty fleeting. You watch them on a Tuesday, have a good time with it, and by Thursday you’ve forgotten all about it.

But Thursday night, I venture to say Corden and a certain former Beatle created an incredible, indelible piece of entertainment. In just more than 20 minutes of footage, driving around Paul McCartney’s hometown of Liverpool, the two Brits who worship music and all the emotions it brings up had one hell of a time.

They went to McCartney’s childhood home, brought Corden to tears singing “Let it Be,” and gave people in a local pub one hell of a surprise at the end.

This, truly, brought me so much joy to watch.  I hope you enjoy. It’s Monday and if it doesn’t lift your spirits, you may want to check your pulse for signs of life.

**Next up today, sometimes on this blog I just want to share something funny that I saw that made me laugh pretty hard.

I had some significant insomnia issues for a long time in my 20’s; not sure if I’ve talked about it here but I was up to two Ambien’s a night sometimes, and often saw the sun come up while trying to fall asleep.

Anyway, I eventually got better, but insomnia is no laughing matter. Still, my sister posted this old New Yorker magazine cartoon by Roz Chast the other day and it made me laugh. Hopefully you can look at it then fall right to sleep.

**Finally today, it’s pretty rare that you get to see good friends doing something righteous on national television, so Friday night was a pretty fabulous one for my wife and I.

I’ve written many times here about my love and support for the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, a non-profit that pairs kids with brain cancer up with high school and college sports teams across America.

Well a few months ago I got a crazy phone call from some hysterically excited friends, Erin Perkins and Alicia Greenstone, the two women who, along with co-founder Denis Murphy, are the heart and soul of FOJ. Truly, they are some of the most wonderful, warm-hearted people I’ve ever met.

Erin and Alicia told me they were just out having lunch at a local restaurant near their office in upstate New York, and a waitress was getting lectured to by customers at a nearby table.

It seems the diners had noticed her wedding ring and asked about her husband, and the waitress mentioned she’s actually married to a woman.

Well, the customers began loudly protesting, speaking nastily to the waitress and threatening to not leave a tip. Erin heard what was going on and immediately jumped to the defense of the waitress, as did Erin and Denis, and all hugged after talking for a few minutes.

A short time after the disrespectful couple left, the host of ABC TV’s “What Would You DO,” John Quinones, jumped out from behind the counter and told them they’d all been filmed for the new season of the show.

They were gobsmacked; of course they didn’t know they were being taped, and quite honestly, there’s no way they would’ve thought the rude customers were actors (there’s plenty of people with those views in America).

Well, I was so proud when I heard what they’d done, and last Friday night their episode finally aired. Check out their short segment (above).

Really, really cool.