Category Archives: Uncategorized

Obama goes out in style in his final State of the Union. A fabulous gun-control ad hits hard. And the Flint water disaster deserves your attention.

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Man, I’m really going to miss this guy.

That’s what I kept thinking when I watched Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, the eighth and final one Barack Obama will give as President of the United States.

From the first time I saw him speak, back in 2004 at the Democratic Convention, he’s held my attention and moved me with his words more than any politician of my lifetime (40 years). Whether he’s angry, whether he’s hopeful, whether he’s empathetic, or whether he’s just saying really smart, incisive stuff, Barack Obama has never been boring.

Has he been a perfect President? Of course not. I have lots of issues with him the last seven years, from failing to close Guantanamo, moving WAY too slow on drug decriminalization, clamping down on press freedoms and subpoenaing more reporters than any President ever, and there are a few more.

But the good has far outweighed the bad to me, and watching that tremendous speech Tuesday night, I realized how much I’m going to miss him.

I’m going to miss the way he can cut through the clutter with a funny phrase or joke; he had a couple doozies Tuesday, right off the top saying he was going to keep this SOTU speech short “because I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.”

His best line, despite all the ones basically smacking down Donald Trump’s B.S.,” was about denial of reality, when he said “60 years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there.”

There was so much I liked about this speech, even knowing that very little gets done legislatively in a two-term President’s final year. Loved the talk about making it easier, not harder, to vote, which sadly goes against what so many GOP governors are doing. Loved his passionate defense of the growing U.S. economy, and really liked his talk of criminal justice reform, years too late though it is.

The President seemed, to me, relaxed and confident; I said on Twitter I thought it was his “I’m Keith Hernandez!” moment. He’s done so much good for so many, that when he walks off the stage for the final time next January, it’s going to be a sad day.

Other things I will miss after watching Obama’s final SOTU:

— Joe Biden, smiling for an hour like a proud papa at his son’s Little League game.
— The TV shots of Ruth Bader Ginsburg falling asleep. I think she stayed awake this year!
— The Michelle Obama screen shots. She is one beautiful, powerful, fierce First Lady.
— Trying to decipher the system these TV networks use when they decide which politicians to identify and which aren’t worth it. I have no clue what their formula is.

— Finally, I’ll miss seeing the history of the first African-American President of the United States. Cannot be overstated how important this man has been, symbolically, to the world.

**Next up, one thing Obama has been talking about lately is gun control, and I have to say, I’m impressed with how committed groups like Michael Bloomberg’s gun control lobby has been. This ad, which I just saw last week, was incredibly powerful and points to what could be a life-saving law change, if it ever happened.

The ad shocked me and will probably shock you. Which is the point.

Finally today, the lead poisoning of the children of the city of Flint, Mich. should be a much, much bigger story, and lead to criminal charges for state officials and maybe even the governor.

If you’re late to this like I was, a quick recap: The city of Flint is very poor, and the state of Michigan, thanks in large part to Detroit, is looking for any way to save money possible. So in 2014 Flint’s water supply was switched from Lake Huron, which has been supplying their clean water for decades, to the Flint River, which apparently is notoriously dirty.

Very quickly, folks in Flint noticed their water was odd colored and odd tasting, and what do you know, the state did nothing about it, said it was safe, blah blah blah. And of course, it turns out the water, when tested, revealed huge amounts of lead in it, which can have horrible effects for children.

Rachel Maddow has been all over this story, I urge you to watch the above clip, and not to be outraged. The Detroit News has more damaging info.

 

A pretty blah Golden Globe awards, but some winners got me excited. And a gonzo weekend of NFL playoffs, including the disgraceful Bengals

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 10: Actress Viola Davis attends the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Awards season is here, which means snark reaches a new level on the Internet, I watch and say “I never saw that movie” a lot, and fun is had by all.

Sunday’s Golden Globes were pretty meh, I thought, but I was glad to see so many surprise winners and new faces. Some random thoughts from my wife and I as we watched…

— Ricky Gervais as host was, as usual, not funny. Sorry, I just don’t get why people love him (I also don’t get why Lady Gaga is famous, but that’s another story). Alluding to Mel Gibson, “we know who Mel blames” was one of his two best lines of the night. The other one I loved, directed to the night’s winners, was “Remember, if you win, nobody cares as much as you do.”
But otherwise, I thought Gervais was boring and not needed. Why can’t Tina and Amy host every year?

— Things/People I was thrilled to see win: “Inside Out” for best animated movie. Jon Hamm for “Mad Men.” Aaron Sorkin for “Steve Jobs” (I really don’t know why that movie didn’t do better at the box office, it was terrific).

— And Sly Stallone winning for “Creed” was fantastic. Not as fantastic? Him forgetting to thank the movie’s star, Michael B. Jordan, and director Ryan Coogler. Look, Sly, I know you’re 93 years old, but come on man, you gotta thank the freaking star and the director, the ones who actually put you in a GOOD movie for the first time in 15 years!

— Meanwhile, “Spotlight” was robbed, getting totally shut out. Just wrong.

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— Jamie Foxx yelling “the winner is, Straight Outta Compton” while presenting an award for Best Original Score was pretty hilarious, then Foxx making it better by mocking the huge Steve Harvey mistake calling out the wrong Miss Universe winner, was fabulous.

— My wife I aren’t the only ones who still can’t remember which one is Olivia Wilde and which one is Olivia Munn, right?

— Denzel Washington can’t be 61 years old. Tremendous montage of his movies, though not sure why “The Pelican Brief” got so much air time; that movie stunk and I love John Grisham.

— Best dressed of the night: Viola Davis (and Amy Adams) for the women, and Chris Evans and Brad Pitt for men. (Brie Larson’s dress (above) was also fabulous.) Worst dressed, by far and no one was even second: Maggie Gyllenhall. I mean, were bumblebees attacking her in this thing?

— Speaking of Mr. Jolie, does Brad Pitt ever, ever age? Dude still looks 25. He’s got some amazing, Benjamin Button secret formula to stay young or something.

— Not to pile on the nice folks in charge of programming at NBC, but USA Network won TWO Golden Globe awards Sunday, while NBC won zero. USA, the channel that shows pro wrestling and other crap most of the time, beat out the network of “The Cosby Show” and “Hill Street Blues” and “L.A. Law.”

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**Next up today, we had two bizarre and compelling endings in the NFL playoffs this weekend, one game that was exciting for three quarters, and then the Chiefs-Texans game which happily I watched not one second of.
The Redskins-Packers game went pretty much as expected; Washington had a surprisingly good season, but the Packers are better. Aaron Rodgers remembered who he is and played great.

The two games I definitely want to talk about, though, were Bengals-Steelers and Vikings-Seahawks.

— One hundred years from now, when pro football is banned in America and high school classes are studying why, I think they’ll show them clips of this Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game. The brutality was ridiculous, so over the top. The vicious Ryan Shazier hit on Gio Bernard (above.) The Vontaze Burfict brutality on Antonio Brown. The Ben Roethlisberger injury. Several other headshots that I can’t even remember off the top of my head. Coaches cursing at players on the field. Just a horrendous display of vicious behavior; this game was out of control.

— And the ending… well, I’ve seen a lot of epic meltdowns in pro football, but that one by Cincy might take the cake. You make a fantastic comeback, take a one-point lead, get an interception with less than two minutes left to basically clinch the game… and still lose. Because your defense is filled with obnoxious, taunting, me-first, selfish, completely irresponsible players like Burfict, who acted like a moron all game, and Adam “Pacman” Jones. They both committed 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalties when the Steelers were only at midfield, allowing Pittsburgh to kick a chip-shot game winning field goal.

How Marvin Lewis can keep his job as head coach after his team was as undisciplined as this is beyond me. What an embarrassment the Bengals were.

— As for the Vikings, their defense was great, they got just enough offense, and then their kicker, Blair Walsh, missed a 27-yard field goal. Yeah it was below zero out, and yeah his holder didn’t spin the laces right, but come on, you gotta make that kick, Blair Walsh.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks did nothing for three quarters but somehow found a way to win. This is one hell of a run Seattle’s on, being good and getting all kinds of lucky breaks. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them go back to the Super Bowl.

But honestly, I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth about all of football right now after that Bengals-Steelers game.

“A View From the Bridge” an incredible Broadway experience. The stranger who donated a liver to a woman he then married. And a bachelor detective in Pittsburgh adopts 2 kids, gains a family

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And a Happy Friday to all of you out there in Internet-land. Hope where you are is warmer than it’s been in NYC this week. While I watch some playoff football this weekend and get mad once again that the Jets blew that freaking game last Sunday and therefore aren’t playing, I give you a Broadway review and two great video stories for Good News Friday.

First, the review. Since high school, I’ve been a big Arthur Miller fan, probably once I read “Death of the Salesman” and several of his other “greatest hits.” The Dustin Hoffman movie of “Death” is incredible, and I’ve seen a few other Miller plays staged over the years.

But nothing prepared me for the sheer power and awesomeness that was the “A View from the Bridge” production my wife and I saw last weekend on Broadway. Imported directly, cast and all, from the London show, it’s the story of Eddie Carbone, a 1950s-era Brooklyn longshoreman, his wife, their 17-year-old niece, and two Italian immigrant cousins who come to live in their apartment, illegally.

The acting was amazing; Mark Strong as Eddie (above, middle) put one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen. For two hours (with no intermission, so pee before or hold it for us audience members), he commanded the small stage and showed you how a man could become obsessed, unhealthily, with his niece, and form a rage against the cousin who falls in love with her (or is just using her to stay in America legally).

I have to say, there was a lot of this play that resonated in 2016 with me, as far as immigrants coming to America and searching for a better life, and the desperation they felt.

The script was superb, the direction was great, and it was the quietest theater I’ve ever been in; all 500 of us in the crowd were hushed pretty much the whole time.

When it ended, I literally said “Wow!” If you’re in New York, or visiting anytime soon, I highly, highly recommend “A View from the Bridge.”

It reminded me how incredible live theater can be, when it’s done to perfection. I hope it wins a boatload of Tony Awards.

Next up today, these kinds of stories always amaze me. A woman named Heather Krueger in Frankfort, Ill. needed a life-saving liver transplant. A total stranger, and former Marine named Chris Dempsey was moved by her plight and decided to donate 55 percent of his own healthy liver.

The two got to know each other during their hospital stay and recuperation, and fell in love. Then they got married.

Watch the video above, and tell me fate doesn’t exist.

Finally today, yet another gem from Steve Hartman and “CBS Sunday Morning.” This one involves a tough police detective from Pittsburgh, two boys being raised in a terrible situation, and how opening his heart and home to them led to so much more.

Great stuff.

“Concussion” movie is decent, but should’ve been better. KU fans giving Hield a standing O is another reason I love sports. And Boston Globe reporters deliver the newspaper they wrote

If you haven’t seen this yet, President Obama got highly emotional while outlining new executive orders about gun control Tuesday. He was firm, he was resolute, and most of all he showed why so many of us care about this man: Because he’s deeply, deeply hurt by his inability to do anything to stop the scourge of gun violence in America. This is exactly what you want to see in a President.

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After reading and seeing so much about the concussion and brain damage issue in football over the last 10 years, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t learn anything new by seeing the movie “Concussion.”

And I was right, I didn’t learn much new when I saw the movie last week (though it was kinda cool seeing Alec Baldwin play a real-life doctor, Julian Bailes, who I once interviewed).

Still, I wanted to see “Concussion” because it was an important, necessary film about a true hero, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered CTE in the brains of several dead NFL players and was roundly rejected and mocked by those in power who should’ve most cared about what he discovered.

“Concussion” isn’t a bad movie; it’s actually pretty decent, probably 2.5 stars in my book. The good? Will Smith was fantastic, as was most of the rest of the cast (David Morse as Steelers legend Mike Webster was particularly great), and I thought the story told was clear, easy to digest for those who knew nothing about this issue and just were coming to a Will Smith movie. The ending is also terrific, rousing and informative.

But the bad? Lots to choose from. For one thing, the movie was dramatically over-simplified, not really getting the players’ side of the issue, current players I mean, into the story.
I also thought there were several characters we knew nothing about who suddenly were thrust into the story: For example, Omalu and Bailes have a heated conversation with a Dr. Maroon at one point, a five-minute scene where Maroon is very skeptical of Omalu’s linking football with brain disease. But we’re never told who Maroon is, why he’s so adamantly against the CTE research. There’s also a young African-American well-dressed guy in a lot of NFL executive meetings who has a bunch of lines, but we’re never told who he is, either.
Then there was the criminal misrepresentation of ex-NFLer, and CTE sufferer, Dave Duerson. His family has been very public in complaining about how the now-deceased Duerson was shown, and 99 times out of 100, I give the filmmaker license to fictionalize certain things, and I don’t care too much. But this was truly horrendous, libelous stuff that director Peter Landesman did to Duerson’s legacy. (My boy Jeff Pearlman wrote a great blog post about this.)

Anyway, “Concussion” is an important movie, and I’m glad it’s out there. I just wish it had been a little better.

**Next up today, this was one of those moments that makes me remember why I love sports so much. Monday night, late into the wee hours of the morning, there was an amazing college basketball game played. No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Oklahoma staged a three-OT classic that I watched parts of Monday night, then had to go bed on and watched the rest Tuesday morning.

It was a fantastic, fantastic game, filled with clutch shots, fabulous defense, and a crowd at Kansas’ Phog Allen Fieldhouse as loud as you can imagine.

But as great as the game was, it’s not what I’ll remember. It’s what happened about 10-15 minutes afterwards that’ll stick with me. Oklahoma star guard Buddy Hield had just finished a sensational performance, scoring 46 points, the most ever by a visiting player at Kansas. He was exhausted, he was upset about losing, and he’d just finished a postgame interview with ESPN.

Then, as he got up to walk away, dozens of Kansas fans still in the stands stood up and gave him a standing ovation. This is the star of your team’s rival, a guy you booed for the last three hours.

But greatness is greatness, and the Jayhawks fans realized how special it was what Hield had just done. So they saluted, proudly.

Great, great sportsmanship. I love college sports when stuff like this happens.

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**Finally today, I may be biased in thinking this is awesome because I’m an ex-newspaper scribe, but I love this story. The Boston Globe had been having major delivery truck issues last week with their new service, with hundreds and hundreds of subscribers complaining that they never got their papers.

So last Saturday night, every reporter, editor, photographer and other newsroom staffers at the paper decided to do something about it: They went and delivered the papers themselves.

Yep, reporters loaded up trucks and drove around the greater Boston area dropping off Sunday’s paper. Was it a bit of a publicity stunt? Sure. But it still shows the dedication of journalists.

I love it! Nothing like “delivering” your own front-page story.

 

The Jets behave like the Jets, and I still am somewhat surprised. Obama and Seinfeld have coffee and drive around. And the Dashcam Pro infomercial is hysterical and awful

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How I can now spend the three hours next weekend that I thought I’d be watching a New York Jets playoff game:
1. Taking a walk outside in freezing January temperatures.
2. Catch up on my correspondence.
3. Contemplate why my 16-month-old gets such immense joy from ripping a piece of toilet paper from the roll, walking to the garbage can, and dropping it in. Then repeating this behavior 11 more times while giggling.
4. Decide once and for all, if I prefer Ginger or Mary Ann.
5. Start learning a foreign language.
6. Beat myself over the head with a wooden mallet, which, let’s face it, is pretty much the same experience as watching a Jets game.

Happily, any and all of those options are at my disposal, since my pathetic excuse for a football team decides the best way to finish off what has been a surprisingly fabulous season is to play an awful game they had to win up in Buffalo, to qualify for the playoffs.

I’m not going to get all upset and riled up again going over all the details. Suffice to say, I was angry for a good solid hour after the game Sunday, then spent 20 minutes mad at myself for being 40 and still allowing this franchise’s performance to affect my emotional state.

So, you know, typical end to the Jets season.

**Next up today, you know I love me some Jerry Seinfeld, and I love when Barack Obama does pop-culture-y things that shows off his sense of humor, so of course I loved this episode of “Comedians in Cars Coffee,” that debuted last week, with Seinfeld and our Commander in Chief kicking it in the White House.

My two favorite parts (and I recommend the whole thing :) at the 10-minute mark when Seinfeld asks Obama about if he ever touches the thermostat in the White House, and at around 14:00 when Seinfeld says “How many world leaders do you meet and think they’re completely out of their minds?”

**Finally today, it’s been a while since I’ve had fun with a terrible infomercial on this blog, but I saw this commercial the other day and was immediately horrified/fascinated, which is exactly the reaction you want when watching one of these. Have you seen this, people? It’s the Dashcam Pro videocamera for your car, and it’s apparently a MUST-have item for your vehicle.

I have lots and lots of questions after watching this: First of all, given what we’ve seen on the news the last few years, I have total faith that the white police officer would be fine with the militant-sounding African-American driver in an accident reaching over to his windshield and shoving a small camera in his face.

Next, the first few clips show innocent people getting their cars smashed and their fabulous camera footage saving them. But at the :21 mark, the “innocent” woman is applying makeup while driving and then gets hit. Isn’t she the one at fault here?

Also, at 1:05 they brag about flipping the camera screen on road trips to “capture all those special moments” in the car. Are you kidding me? No actual family has ever had a “special moment” on a road trip. It’s four hours of bickering, threats to turn the car around, or sheer boredom. And if the camera is facing the other way, isn’t going to miss the accident you’re about to have when you turn around to smack your kids?

Wait, I’m just getting started. Do we really need yet another device to be distracted by/have to pay attention to in the car? Will one of the people who get into an accident use the “sorry officer, I was adjusting the angle of my stupid dashboard camera.”

“It’s the most important tool you’ll ever buy for your car!” Really? New brakes, replacement tires, none of that is more important?

And yet… I almost kinda maybe want the thing.

Happy New Year! Some resolutions from yours truly for 2016. The happiest dog at Christmas you’ll ever see. And a really fun new commercial with kids living with their NBA heroes

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Happy 2016 to y’all! Hope you had a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve; mine was happily routine and boring; ever since our little guy came along our Dec. 31 evenings have become pretty tame (then again, we weren’t so wild before the kid came along; I think New Year’s Eve stops becoming important once you turn 30.)

We had the in-laws over, watched a little college football, played some Rummy-O (or Rummy-Cue, or Rummy Cub, the game has like 11 different names), and laughed as usual as Kathy Griffin tried her best to humiliate Anderson Cooper on CNN.

Going to start the first Good News Friday of ’16 with a couple quick New Year’s Resolutions for myself. Honestly, these are for my benefit more than you the reader’s, I find once something is written down it’s a lot harder to ignore. But here’s to doing better in 2016 by doing the following…

1. Look at my cell phone less, especially late at night. It’s terrible for your eyes, it’s distracting, and especially bad in helping me fall asleep when I roll over and look at something. But mostly, I need to fight the urge to constantly be “tuned in” and just enjoy the world around me more.

2. Read more, watch less: My list of books I want to read is now well over two dozen, and not shrinking. Fewer Duke and Rangers games on TV, more reading. First up: Te-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” which has been sitting on my nightstand since September; finishing Nick Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn’s “Half The Sky,” and diving into Jason Gay’s “Little Victories.”

3. Stop measuring my son’s milestones against other children: I try really hard not to do this, but I can’t help it: We’re at a play-date, or in music class, and some kid around Nate’s age is already talking, or already doing something else. And I feel this instant pang of “why isn’t MY kid doing that yet?” It’s completely ridiculous and stupid; I have the happiest, healthiest most wonderful baby on the planet (I may be biased), and I know he’ll reach every milestone when he’s good and ready.

Besides, what if he finally starts talking and says “Daddy, I don’t like the Jets. They stink?”

4. Learn to love Hillary, our next President: OK, maybe not “love.” But at least try to put aside all my past preconceptions of her and learn to embrace her candidacy, once she disposes of my man Bernie Sanders and cruises to the nomination. This one could be tough, but I will try…

5. Stop watching the GOP debates: The biggest guilty pleasure of all time. But I think they’re rotting my brain.

6. Watch the Jets win the Super Bowl: Just kidding. I make that resolution every year, and it ain’t coming true anytime soon :)

https://www.thedodo.com/dog-opens-best-christmas-gift-1529447750.html

**Next up, this is a few days old but made me smile. Watch this dog go absolutely nuts with joy over opening a Christmas gift. Don’t you wish you were ever this happy about anything?

**And finally, a wonderful new long commercial by Nike, with a pretty funny concept: A bunch of kids can’t decide who their favorite basketball player is, so they move in with Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Elena Delle Donne and others for a few days to see which one they like best.

My favorites are the Durant and Paul George ones, although Kobe’s segment is hilarious, too. (“Eight hours of training is nothing compared to a second of losing.”)

 

 

“The Big Short” was way more entertaining than I expected, and still left me enraged. The best photos of the year. And Dave Barry’s Year in Review, brilliant as always.

Bigshort

I went to see “The Big Short” last week not just because it’s based on a book I wrote (OK, OK, it was the “other” Michael Lewis who wrote it, must we be sticklers for details?), but because it got superb reviews and I was curious how the director, Adam McKay, could possibly make sub-prime mortgages and collateralized debt obligations into an exciting movie.

But damned if “The Big Short” isn’t pretty exciting. The cast is stellar, with Christian Bale and Steve Carell shining, but the script and the inventive way McKay uses to explain a lot of the boring technical jargon (a naked Margot Robbie in a bubble bath talking about finance certainly got me to sit up straight in my seat) was really what made the movie stand out.

The film doesn’t talk down to its audience, and actually makes the half-dozen or so main characters, who saw the housing bubble collapsing, and taking the world economy down with it, long before others did, seem like characters in a thriller.

To be clear, there are no “good guys” here, just some money men who figured out what was going to happen and made millions doing it.
Even as I was enjoying the movie, though, I got enraged, which is what I suppose is the point. This entire financial collapse we experience in 2008 could’ve been prevented, and it was caused by reckless greed and illegal behavior, combined with so many regulators looking the other way.

By the end of the movie, you feel angry that so few have gone to jail over causing so much pain and suffering. But you also feel this was an important story to tell that most Americans really should watch (kind of the same way I feel about “Concussion,” another flick I just saw, but more on that next week in this space.)

Go see “The Big Short.” It’s much better than you think it’ll be. And you’ll even learn something while having a good time.

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**Next up, two of my favorite year-end annual events. First, the New York Times’ collection of the Pictures of the Year, from news events around the world. So many haunting and beautiful images here, I’ve put two on the page here (above and below) but really, look at all of them.

Just amazing photography.

USWomenssoccer.Pictureofyear2

**Finally today, one of my favorite annual things to read this time of year is Dave Barry’s hilarious take on the momentous events of the last 12 months. Barry is, without a doubt, the funniest newspaper writer who ever lived, and though he doesn’t write as much anymore, these year-end recaps still slay me. Some excerpts below; read the whole column here:

JanuaryOn DeflateGate: “The most fascinating theory is put forth by Patriot Head Coach Bill Belichick, a man who, at his happiest, looks like irate ferrets are gnawing their way out of his colon.”

March, on Putin: Abroad, Russian President Vladimir Putin mysteriously vanishes from public view for 10 days. It is later revealed that he was training customer-service representatives for Comcast.

August, on climate change: The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that July was the hottest month globally ever recorded. With a renewed sense of urgency, the world’s industrialized nations vow to continue sending large delegations via jumbo jets to distant conferences on climate change until this darned thing has been licked.

November, on Presidential debates: In presidential politics, Ben Carson reacts angrily to CNN reports suggesting that he never tried to stab anybody or hit his mother with a hammer. Really. Donald Trump continues his two-pronged campaign of saying reprehensible things and then clarifying his statements by saying he didn’t really say them so STOP HATING YOU PATHETIC LOSERS, a strategy that continues to cost him vital support among knowledgeable Washington insiders. Jeb Bush seeks to revive his flagging campaign by unleashing an awesome new slogan —“Jeb Can Fix It!” — and immediately surges ahead in the coveted 3-year-old-boy voter demographic.

The Jets with a stunning, thrilling win over the Patriots, as Belichick makes a rare stupid decision. “Master of None” a superb new Netflix show. And the rapist who made sure his victim got home safely.

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Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. It’s been several hours since the New York Jets pulled off an always-satisfying, and always-rare, win over the Patriots Sunday.

And I’m still jazzed. Damn, that feels good. I’ve said before that a victory over New England, since it’s so uncommon, feels like two wins instead of one. And this one certainly does.

Where to start? Well, for once Bill Belichick didn’t come off as such a genius. Coach Hoodie seemed to make major blunders throughout the game, starting with the end of the first half when he inexplicably decided not to try to score more points, with 1:50 left, 2 timeouts, and his team trailing by 7.

But Billy boy saved his best brain work for OT, when after winning the coin toss, he told his captain to say the Pats wanted to kick off. This meant, if the Jets scored a TD, New England wouldn’t get the ball at all and the game would be over.
Which is exactly what happened.
Because Ryan Fitzpatrick, God bless his journeyman soul, led the Jets downfield for a beautiful TD. I don’t know what the hell has gotten into Fitz this year, but this isn’t the QB I watched so many years in Buffalo and Houston. This guy is calm, poised, and after a shaky start, played a terrific game Sunday.

And Brandon Marshall… you complete me. I never saw Don Maynard because I wasn’t born yet, but Marshall’s the best Jets receiver of my lifetime. At least he’s having the best season of any Jets receiver of my life. He’s been so clutch, and so huge, in so many games.

The Jets defense also was fantastic, though to be fair, I think the Patriots were down to the kids from “Lucas” on the offensive line and at wideout by the end. Brady is just so fricken good, he almost pulled out a win anyway.

Ah, so much fun to beat the Pats. Now the Jets have set me up for the ultimate heartbreak: Having to beat Rex Ryan and Buffalo next week to get in. Bills, nothing to play for, Rex desperately wanting to beat his old team, Jets in a great spot… what could possibly go wrong?

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**Next up, I’ve been reading and hearing over the last few weeks about how fantastic Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix comedy, “Master of None” was. I’ve seen it on a bunch of “Top 10 shows of the year” lists, my favorite TV critic Alan Sepinwall had raved about it, and word of mouth about it was great.

Still, I wasn’t a big fan of Ansari or “Parks and Rec,” his last show, so I didn’t immediately watch.

Big mistake. The wife and I have been binge-watching it this weekend and it’s absolutely terrific. We’ve seen eight episodes (of 10) and it’s getting better and better.

The show, ostensibly, is just about a single man (Ansari) in his 30’s, working as an actor, hanging out with his friends, and having adventures both in dating and professionally. But it’s much more than that.

The writing is sharp and real; the chemistry among the actors (none of whom besides Ansari are famous) is terrific, and the stories told are fascinating.

One episode has Ansari’s character, Dev, vying with another Indian actor for a role in a TV show, since “you’re only allowed one Indian per show.” Another hilarious episode has Dev and his Asian friend Kevin trying to repay their parents for giving them a great new life in America by learning about their journeys.
And maybe the best storyline so far involves Claire Danes and Noah Emmerich in guest-starring roles, playing comedy so well.

It’s the rare show that treats its audience as intelligent adults; the relationships seem real, the dialogue is really funny, and it’s just a great, great show.

Can’t wait to watch the last two episodes; this is definitely a show you should check out.

**Finally today, I’m a few weeks late on this but just got around to reading it this weekend, and it’s brave and powerful and fabulous so I wanted to share it. Alisson Wood wrote this in the New York Times Week in Review a few weeks ago, about the time she was a college student, working as a waitress in a diner, and was raped by her boss, a manager at the restaurant.

The headline “Get home safe,” my rapist said” doesn’t grab you, nothing will. After committing his sexual assault in his office, Alisson’s boss helped her into her car, then followed her home.

It took years for her to come to terms with what happened, and her essay brings forth all her emotions. It’s difficult, important writing, and it’s done very well.

Rapists come in all shapes, sizes and demeanors; the stereotypes are often very wrong.

It’s a terrific essay and I highly urge you to read it.

Good News Friday: Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. And three of my favorite Good News Friday stories from 2015

For all my readers out there who celebrate this holiday today, I say Merry Christmas, and ho, ho, ho. May you have gotten whatever you asked for in your stocking, and that you have a wonderful day with you and your family. Me? Like all other Jews in America, as is written in the Torah, I’ll be at a Chinese restaurant. (Actually I won’t be, but I’m pretty sure it IS in the Torah.)

Given that this is the last Friday of 2015, I thought I’d post a few of my favorite Good News Friday stories of the year here.

I hated narrowing it down to just three, but I know you’ve got presents to open and I’ve got moo shoo pork and egg rolls to eat.

**First off, this was from a GNF post in May, and it may be my favorite thing I saw this year. It’s a video of a father doing a rare thing at a wedding: Giving a speech to the groom while they’re up at the altar during the service, not at the reception.

This dad, whose name isn’t on the video, gives his future son-in-law Phillip a little talking-to, in a loving, oh-so-sweet tribute to the woman Philip’s about to marry. It’s about love and Jesus and how much the father loves his daughter… yeah, I cried at the end (and I’m Jewish, that’s how good it is.)

**Next up, this next story I love because it’s so out of the blue and delivered such random joy to dozens of people stranded at an airport.

During a flight delay in June at LaGuardia Airport, the touring casts of “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” decided that with everyone in a grumpy mood, they’d put on a little impromptu performance.

And as you might expect, it was awesome.

**And finally, I love this wonderful tradition. Every year, a wealthy businessman, who remains anonymous, travels the country in December and gives out $100,000 to perfect strangers, usually in $100 increments.

And for the last several years, he has allowed Steve Hartman from “CBS Sunday Morning” to tag along. The look on the strangers’ faces … just perfect.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

 

“Serial” is back, and so far it’s fantastic. Netflix invents socks to keep you awake while binge-watching. And the Montreal Canadiens do a bang-up version of “Let It Go.”

BoweBergdahl

The first season of the podcast “Serial” was a phenomenon in all ways. I was hooked right from the beginning, becoming more addicted each week as the host, Sarah Koenig, walked us through a 1999 murder case involving a Baltimore teenager who allegedly murdered his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

Millions of people like me argued about the case with friends, read about it on Internet message boards, and came to the end of the season still not 100 percent sure whether Adnan Syed was guilty (I came down on the side that there certainly was enough reasonable doubt to acquit him.)

Season 2 of “Serial,” which broke every downloading podcast record imaginable, started two weeks ago, and I’m happy to say it’s shaping up just as compellingly as Season 1.

This year they’re investigating a much more famous case, that of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who famously walked off his platoon’s base in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban, held as a prisoner for five years, then finally released.

Immediately after his release, there was a counter-narrative to the idea that Bergdahl was a hero, and I have to say, after two episodes of “Serial,” I’m of the mind that what he did was extremely dangerous and incredibly disrespectful and hurtful to the American war in Afghanistan.

Episode 2, which detailed the incalculable risks and effort it took to try to find Bergdahl in the months after his disappearance, features numerous interviews with fellow soldiers who talk about the agonizing toll of the search. Day after day, hour after hour, plunging themselves into highly-dangerous situations that could’ve been a trap, just acting on small bits of intelligence that Bergdahl was in a certain location.

So far we’ve only heard bits and pieces of Bergdahl’s explanation of his actions, but right now, he looks awfully guilty of abandonment and other crimes.

Then again, Adnan looked guilty for a while last season, too.

New “Serial” episodes come out every Thursday. If you’re not already on board, I highly, highly recommend it.

 

**Next up today, one of the many, many things I love this time of year are videos of professional athletes singing cheesy holiday songs and showing varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Not surprisingly, there are quite a few gems out there this year, but the Montreal Canadiens singing “Let it Go” from “Frozen” has to be my favorite. P.K. Subban, God bless him, seems to be the only Habs player putting some feeling into it, although as always, the non-native English speakers do their best to channel Elsa.

Enjoy!

netflix-socks

**And finally, this is something that was destined to be invented in this age of television binge-watching. Netflix, the service that basically invented binge-watching of TV shows, has just come out with an innovate pair of socks that (get this) pauses the TV show you’re watching if the socks detect that you’ve fallen asleep.

How does it work? There’s an accelerometer built into them that detects when you’ve stopped moving for a prolonged period of time. A light on the top of the sock will go off to warn you your show is about to be paused, and if you don’t move after that, the socks know you’re asleep and pause the show for you.

Cool, right? I would totally want a pair… until I read this story in the Washington Post explaining their significant cost, that you have to put them together yourself, and they’re a pain to wash and could be blocked by your coffee table or blanket.

Still, if you’ve got $80 to spend and are constantly missing “House of Cards” last five minutes, this is the gift for you.

Me? I think I’ll just rely on a cheaper “you’ve fallen asleep” product: my wife’s elbow into my ribs. I get that for free.