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“The Big Sick” a really warm, funny movie with heart. Remembering the best July 4th fireworks show I saw live. And Wimbledon begins, can Federer win No. 19?

It’s rare that I go to the movies anymore, and even rarer that I go to the cinema in the summer, when nearly every movie is an insipid superhero flick with $200 million special effects budget but a $5 plot. Summer movies are almost always dreadful; the best thing about them is that you’re inside and getting air conditioning for a few hours.

But I’ve been reading and hearing so many positive things about “The Big Sick,” the new romantic comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani (he’s on HBO’s excellent “Silicon Valley”) and Zoe Kazan, that my beautiful wife and I decided to check it out.

It was sensational. Really, really strong flick, maybe the best romantic comedy I’ve seen since I don’t know when. (maybe since I saw “Knocked Up?”)

The plot is simple: Kumail (playing himself) is a Pakistani stand-up comedian in his 20s living in Chicago, totally happy with American culture, but stuck with old-world parents who keep trying to set him up. One night at a comedy club he meets Emily (Zoe Kazan), a blonde and perky grad student who’s studying to be a psychiatrist. The two hit it off immediately, start to have a relationship, and a few months later it falls apart (I won’t spoil the whole plot).

Then right after the breakup, Emily gets very sick and is put into a medically-induced coma, and suddenly we’re in a very different movie. Soon Kumail has to deal with Emily’s parents (the usually hilarious Holly Hunter is great here, and Ray Romano continues to show he can actually act), who know about the breakup and understandably aren’t thrilled he keeps showing up to the hospital every day.

There were a lot of little, funny touches in “The Big Sick,”  that show the writers (Nanjiani and his real-life wife, Emily Gordon) realize the small things are important, including Kumail needing to get ahold of Emily’s parents, but not having their phone number, and of course Emily’s phone is locked.

So he takes Emily’s iPhone and slides her comatose thumb over the home button, unlocking the device, then mouthing “sorry” to her. But hey, how else would he have gotten their digits, right?

The movie also contains what I believe to be the first and only truly funny 9/11 joke, which I won’t spoil here. You may hate yourself for laughing at it, but you will laugh, trust me.

“The Big Sick” has great heart, its hilarious and moving, and credits its audience with having a brain, rare for a summer movie. It’s only playing in certain cities right now, but it’s gotten a 91 percent fresh Rotten Tomatoes score for a reason: It’s terrific. If it’s playing anywhere near you, go see it.

Next up, I’m probably not going to be attending any live fireworks shows this year (our little guy can’t stay up that late and is terrified by loud noises), so I got a little nostalgic and found this on YouTube: In 1986 there was an amazing fireworks show over the Statue of Liberty, to celebrate its 100 year anniversary. My family and I camped out 12 hours earlier to get a good spot. It was pretty magical…

**Finally today, it’s a national holiday for tennis fans like me: Wimbledon is here! The most prestigious and best Grand Slam of the year arrives, and for me it’s two weeks of pure racket bliss. OK, sure, I did have a few moments this weekend remembering the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Wimbledon my wife and I took last year, and had a few small pangs of “Man, that was so incredible, I want to go back!

But that quickly passed. This Wimbledon figures to be utterly predictable on the men’s side, and completely unpredictable on the women’s side. With the men, I have to believe it’ll be either Roger Federer or Rafa Nadal winning the title; Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are in deep slumps, and I can’t see an upstart like Grigor Dimitrov or Alex Zverev breaking through here. Please, please tennis Gods, give us Federer/Nadal final in 2 weeks.
On the women’s side, who the hell knows? Serena Williams is pregnant, Maria Sharapova is hurt, and none of the other top women’s players have any great pedigree on grass.

Jelena Ostapenko won the French Open, Simona Halep is always dangerous, and don’t count out Venus. Should be wild.

Two glorious weeks of Wimbledon. Can’t wait.

Good News Friday: The major league umpire who stopped a suicide attempt. An amazing singer on “America’s Got Talent” wows me. A Canadian cancer survivor gives back to sick kids. And a Muslim-owned restaurant in Montreal offers free meals to any who are hungry

So much good news this week, and since I really wanted to wipe the slate clean after a disgusting Thursday in the news, I’ve got four Good News Friday items to share…

First, nobody likes baseball umpires. Least of all baseball fans.
All the men in blue hear are complaints, arguments, and insults about their vision, that they have an improper relationship with their mothers, yada yada yada.

But if ever an ump deserved love, it was this week, and the ump who should get it is John Tumpane.

Wednesday in Pittsburgh, Tumpane was out for a jog on the Roberto Clemente Bridge, a few hours before that night’s Pirates game he was to officiate in. He suddenly saw a woman climb over a railing and stand perilously close to the water. Tumpane instantly sensed that the woman was about to commit suicide, and he spent the next several hours with her, in heroic service. First, he hooked his arms around hers and asked her to come back to the other side of the railing. From the amazing Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story about this incident:

No, no, no,” she answered. “I’m better off on this side. Just let me go.”

“I’m not going to let you go,” he said. “Let’s talk this out. We’ll get you back over here.”

“No one wants to help me,” she repeated. “Just let me go.”

“No, we’re here to help you.”

“You’ll forget me tomorrow.”

“I’ll never forget you,” he said. “You can have my promise on that.”

Eventually, police, fire, and other volunteers came to help Tumpane, and the woman was safely brought back.

“You never know what somebody’s day looks like,” Tumpane said. “It’s a nice day, everyone’s out for a walk, and somebody’s not having the same day you’re having. I was just glad to help.”

Great call, John (sorry, I had to.)

**Next up, it’s been awhile since I’ve featured a musical performance on the blog, but this gentleman who performed on “America’s Got Talent” the other night blew me away. His name is Johnny Manuel, he sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” and my jaw was on the floor 30 seconds into the song.

What a voice! Just beautiful stuff. (he starts singing at the 1:00 mark).

**Next, two stories from Canada, a country I adore. First, meet Faizal Khamisa, a 26-year-old sportscaster for Canada’s SportsNet network. Ten years ago he was diagnosed with cancer, and thought he might die. He survived, thanks to some amazing care at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, and has decided to give back.

He’s volunteered to have his head shaved live on TV Friday night, to raise money for Sick Kids Hospital, to buy toys for children who are suffering from cancer.

As I write this,the GoFundMe page Faizal started has earned more than $9,200. That’ll buy a lot of toys and put a lot of smiles on kids’ faces who need all the smiles they can get right now.

**And finally today, meet the Muslim restaurant owners in Montreal who give free meals to anyone who needs them, because they’ve been there.

“It is something personal to me and my partner,” said Ali Amiry, a co-owner.

“First of all, we believe in charity, in donation, and sharing things. And also, we notice there is need for this because there are many homeless people.”

Tell me again that hate triumphs over love. Never, ever, ever does it.

A few fun days in Washington, D.C., starring great weather, museum fun, and man does my kid love trains. And the city of Detroit disgustingly takes money from schools to put into an arena

As I stood on line Monday night at a Haagen-Dazs just two blocks from the Verizon Center arena in Washington, D.C. (Hall and Oates were playing that night, who knew they could still fill arenas???), I struck up a conversation with a family of five that were all wearing yellow T-shirts saying “Wilson Family Takeover 2017.”

Using my Einstein-like powers of deduction, I figured they were all here for a family reunion. I was right. After talking for a minute or two, I decided to take a shot.

“Now that you have taken over things, any chance all you Wilsons can go to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and take over the White House?”

The dad laughed and said “Man, I would love that. The whole family would love that!”

We laughed, the kind of laugh those who are doomed can share.

Yep, my wife and almost-3-year-old spent the last two days in our nation’s capital, where I had some version of that conversation at least four times. There is so much awesomeness here in Washington, one of my favorite American cities. But even as we walked around and visited the sights, I couldn’t stop thinking that a lying, arrogant man with no morals and no high regard for anyone but himself, who would sooner die than admit he was wrong about something, lives in this town.

I know, I know. It’s temporary, and the city truly is fantastic.  It just put a slight damper on things, that’s all.

A few thoughts on a few fun days in the land of the Capitals, Wizards and Nationals…

— Sightseeing stuff first: As I’ve been to D.C. many times before but not in five years, and knowing we only had two days, I wanted to see the “new” monuments first. Was super impressed with the architecture and simple power of the World War II Memorial, and the powerful words engraved on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial were also terrific (my favorite MLK quote I saw there: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

— Also spent too short a visit at the National Air and Space Museum. Our little guy was a little overwhelmed by it, too much to see and do. But we saw a way-cool exhibit on the Apollo space landings and got to walk around inside a rocketship. Which was cool.

— The highlight of the trip, though, had to be Nate’s reactions to the D.C. Metro. He loves the NYC subways but this was something totally new and exciting for him, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been as excited by anything as he was to ride the “subway trains,” as he called them. He would yell “doors are gonna open!” when we pulled into a station, then yell “some people getting on, some people getting off!” He loved spotting another train passing on the opposite side of the station and waving at it, and even Tuesday night, exhausted, he squealed with delight at almost every stop.

Seriously, we should just move into a subway car. Kid would be ecstatic.

— Never in past visits to D.C. have I noticed so many Nationals caps, jerseys and shirts. Having a first-place team tends to bring out all the front-runners.

— One of the occasional perks of having a cute kid: Waitresses do nice things for you. Breakfast at our hotel restaurant, with the full supply of pancakes, waffles, etc., was supposed to be paid each day separately. But after Nate was done flirting with our delightful waitress Tuesday morning, she brought over a voucher for free breakfast for us. Totally unexpected and so generous of her.

Glad my kid smiles at people…

— Finally, a hidden gem you shouldn’t miss if you come to D.C.: The National Building Museum. My wife thought we would like it and she was right; it has lots of play room and activities for kids, dealing with blocks and building and design, and there were several very cool exhibits for grownups. Totally worth your time.

** Finally today, my good pal Abel is proudly from the Detroit area, and stuff like this burns him up. But it’s not just a local thing, it’s a greed thing that so many cities and sports owners have pulled over the years.

The city of Detroit is trying to lure the NBA’s Pistons back, trying to persuade them to leave the suburbs where they currently play and move into a sparkling new arena downtown, set to open this fall. To do that, the Detroit City Council recently approved $34 million in payments incentives that sweetened the offer, and the Pistons will indeed be moving.

As if that isn’t ridiculous enough (really? we need to PAY sports team owners city money?), check this out: The money that is going to the Pistons and their billionaire owner Tom Gores was originally earmarked to help improve the city’s schools and parks. The schools in Detroit are $500 million in debt, but by all means,  let’s give a pro basketball team some money.

Shaking my damn head. Detroit City Council ought to be ashamed of themselves.

 

A woman takes the health care fight directly to her senator, and it’s fascinating viewing. Stephen Colbert goes on Russian TV to announce he’s running for President. And the “Making a Murderer” kid, finally getting justice

Greetings from the land of crab cakes, Orioles fans, and much cheaper than NYC prices. The family and I have spent the weekend in Maryland visiting relatives, and today we’re headed to Washington, D.C. for some sightseeing and maybe a trip to the Oval Office, where I’ll try to convince our nearly-3-year-old son that he really is more qualified to be President than the guy currently doing the job. (By the way, highlight of the weekend for him is the discovery of this way-cool bubbles-making toy my wife’s aunt has. It’s called a Bubbles Making Bubbles stick, and that photo above was taken by my wife. He played with that thing for like an hour. And yeah, one’s headed to our apartment right now. God bless Amazon.)

First up today, so much is being said and written about this “so bad it’s hard to believe they can say it’s good with a straight face” health care bill that may be voted on by Congress this week. I don’t want to get into every single lie or mistruth being uttered about it, or how disastrous this would be for so many people. Here, instead, is a simple 90-second video featuring a West Virginia woman confronting her Senator, Shelley Capito, about what will happen to the woman’s daughter if “TrumpCare” is passed.

Simple, powerful, effective.

**Next up today, I thought this was pretty ingenious. Stephen Colbert flew to Russia to be on a Russian talk show, to announce he’s running for President in 2020. “Might as well cut out the middleman,” Colbert said.

Of course he’s not really running, but this was oddly fascinating to watch, Colbert as a guest on Russian TV.

**Finally today, you may have missed this over the weekend but if you watching Netflix’s “Making A Murderer” you’re probably as obsessed with the cases it covered as I am. Anyway, it looks like a grievous wrong was finally righted on Friday. Brendan Dassey, the nephew of convicter murderer Steven Avery, was forced into a confession and verbally taken advantage of by Wisconsin sheriff Dept., then sentenced to life in prison in 2007.

Thanks in part to the huge success of the documentary, Dassey’s plight has gotten a lot of attention, and Friday he got one step closer to much-deserved freedom. A federal appeals court ruled that his confession was illegally obtained, and that unless the state wants to retry him within the next 90 days,  or appeal to the Supreme Court, he will be set free.

Dassey’s plight was the most tragic part of “Making a Murderer;
a mentally challenged kid totally steamrolled by the legal system. Now, finally, it looks like justice will be done.

 

The best college graduation speeches of 2017. A 6-year-old girl with cancer gets a visit from the Stanley Cup. And a fascinating discovery about an 11-year-old boy with autism, as told by his dad.

And a Happy Friday to you! Hope you are enjoying the incredibly long days of daylight these days (I know I am) and that you’re not going to be sitting in summer traffic this weekend (I know I am; the family and I are headed to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. for a few days of family reunion/nation’s capital tourism fun. Oh, the Beltway, how I’ve missed you. Hope to have a post up on Monday like normal, but can’t guarantee it.)

We start this week’s GNF with one of my favorite traditions of NFL writer Peter King of Sports Illustrated. Each year he puts together what he thinks are some of the best college commencement speeches of the year, and this year they’re awesome as usual. Not every speech will “speak” to you personally of course, but they’re almost always full of cool insights. Here’s a quick passage from one of my favorites this year, actress Helen Mirren, given at Tulane University:

Don’t over-complicate things. “Don’t procrastinate. “Do say thank you when it is merited. “Don’t lose your sense of humor.“Do confront bullies.

“Do open your heart to love. “Don’t confuse sex with love. Love generally lasts longer than two minutes. “Don’t smoke tobacco … or chew it. “Don’t dive into water if you don’t know how deep it is.

“And one more thing—don’t procrastinate.”

So many of these are great; make sure you check out Michele Norris’ as well.  (You have to scroll a bit down in the column to read the excerpts, FYI.)

**Next up today, there’s always a few wonderful stories about the Stanley Cup visiting a very worthy guest this time of year, and this one is as good as any of them. There’s a 6-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins fan named Darran Dunlop, and she’s been suffering from leukemia for the past year.

Last week, a Penguins equipment manager named Danny Kroll brought the Cup to Darran’s house, and this was her awesome reaction.:

**Finally today, I truly do think this qualifies as Good News, but some may not. Chris Jones is an immensely gifted writer, for places like Esquire and ESPN (I’ve written about some of his amazing work here from time to time.) Jones has an 11-year-old son named Charley (above), who is autistic. Last week on Twitter Jones told a beautiful story about Charley, after getting some diagnostic tests back about the boy. Read it through to the end, and realize how amazing a person’s capacity is. Charley, you are my hero, too.

Here is what Jones said (this was one long Tweetstorm when he wrote it.)

Charley’s autistic. That means he’s really good at some things, and really not good at other things. His brain is extremes. For instance, his memory is ridiculous. He often brings up things that happened when he was very, very young. He often brings up the time I was driving with him, and he saw a big truck with an Elmo doll on its grill. He wasn’t yet two.

But he has no comprehension of math, for instance. The passage of time. He would not understand that 1983 happened before 1996. He recently took some tests in school. He finished in the first percentile in math and in spelling. Serious learning disabilities. Those weren’t surprises. We know he can’t do math or spell. But the spelling has always mystified me, because Charley is a voracious reader.

I feel safe in saying few children read more. If you see Charley, he will have a book in his hands. We take his books everywhere.How can a child who reads so much, and so well (if he doesn’t know a word, tell him once and he’ll know it forever) be unable to spell?

Now with these tests we have our answer: Charley memorizes words. Not how they’re spelled, but how they look.He doesn’t sound out words and never has. He remembers the shape of them. Each word is a picture. It’s amazing.

Thousands of words, stored in his brain, stamped on it like tattoos. But asking him to spell them..That’s like asking the rest of us to draw a picture of a person we know. We know what they look like. But we can’t translate it.

The real question isn’t why Charley can’t spell. It’s how Charley can read. Well, my beautiful boy did what we should all remember to do. He took one of his strengths, and he used it against one of his weaknesses. He found a way around life’s obstacles.

Every time he picks up a book, Charley defies his reality. And he has a book in his hands all the time. He’s my hero.

Jimmy Fallon and Miley Cyrus sing in disguise at a NYC subway stop. Aaron Judge is making me watch baseball highlights again. And the man who wants to take down Paul Ryan has a fantastic opening commercial

So there’s a little bit of depression among my die-hard Democratic political friends today, because after spending an insane amount of money trying to win a mostly-unwinnable race in a special election for a Georgia Congressional seat, the Democratic candidate lost. Jon Ossoff is barely 30 years old, and was running in a very wealthy, very white district in a very red state. And he lost by five points in a district Republicans have owned for 25 years.

Still, many of my political peeps are depressed. They see every small GOP win as a validation of the moron-in-chief, and despair that it doesn’t matter at all what he does or says, people are still with him (he’s got a 36 percent approval rating, so it’s not like A LOT of people are with him).

But I’m a realist: No election that happens in 2017 is as important as what will happen in 2018. So if you’re a bummed Democrat this morning, let me give you a reason to get excited. There’s a man in Wisconsin named Randy Bryce, and he’s trying to unseat one of the biggest phonies in American political history, Mr. Paul Ryan.

Bryce, a proud union ironworker, has just come out with an absolutely gobsmackingly-good ad introducing himself to voters. Seriously, watch this and tell me you’re not ready to vote for this guy. THIS is the kind of candidate Democrats need all over the country, to appeal to voters who by 2018 will loathe Trump in record numbers.

Randy Bryce, take it away…

**Next up today, I love it when Jimmy Fallon does this, because I see so many subway singers here in New York City who are great, and never get attention paid to them.

Fallon and Miley Cyrus decided to perform in disguise at the Rockefeller Center subway station in Manhattan recently, to see if anyone would stop and listen. Quite a few did. Very cool, and proof that for all her stupid antics and stunts, Cyrus can really perform and sing.

**Finally today, I’ve said many times here that I barely watch baseball anymore, but there’s a rookie for the New York Yankees who suddenly is making me check baseball highlights in the morning, a guy who is humble, gracious and incredibly skilled at hitting a baseball far, far away from home plate.

Aaron Judge is having a seriously amazing year. He is 6-foot-8, he hits baseballs to the moon, and he seems to be having so much fun doing it. The Yankees were supposed to stink this year, but instead they’re in first place.

Check out this 500-foot blast he hit two weeks ago; I’ve never seen a ball hit that far in new Yankee Stadium.

The kid plays the game with verve and joy, and is so much fun to watch. It’s great to see, and it’s become a part of my daily routine to see what “the Judge” did the night before.

Very cool story developing, as right now Judge is still in the embryonic stage of fame, and he approaches the game and that fame with innocence.

Bret Stephens column:

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/opinion/only-mass-deportation-can-save-america.html?mi_u=68234351&referer=ddd

 

Thinking about fathers and sons and affection on Father’s Day. Lonzo Ball’s hilarious Foot Locker ad pokes fun at himself. And an awesome newspaper lede I wished I’d written

Sunday was Father’s Day here in America, and for the third year in a row I got to experience the wonderful feelings of love from my son, who while at 2 1/2 years old is still not old enough to buy me a present or write me out a card by himself, gives me so much joy every day.

(Sunday, while riding in the car to pick up a few things before going to my Dad and stepmom’s house for the day, we called my stepfather to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. Two or three minutes after I hung up, out of the blue, a little voice from the backseat said, “Daddy?”

“Yes, Nate?”

“Happy Father’s Day to you, too.”

I about melted.

I sometimes find myself thinking about fathers and sons, partially because I’m now both of those people, partially because “Field of Dreams” is my favorite all-time movie (and the movie contains the best father-son moment ever captured on film), and partially because it’s a fascinating topic. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful, loving father who shows constant affection and has always been there for me, but I know millions of others never had that.

At the risk of sounding like a preachy right-wing Republican (I’m rarely in danger of sounding like that), every statistic and study shows that kids with good fathers who show them love and interest fare so much better, academically, socially and in any other way than those that don’t.

Of course there are exceptions, people like LeBron James who grew up without the presence of a biological dad yet still achieve incredible heights. But having a dad there seems to make all the difference in so many cases.

It’s funny, my father and I are always hugging and kissing and telling each other we love you, but I’ve met so many people over the years who barely speak to their parents, and haven’t said “I love you” to them in years.

I’m very lucky that hasn’t been the case for me. Read this great essay I saw Sunday by Andrew Potter, who unabashedly discusses showing huge amounts of affection for his little boy, and realize that all that talk about “macho guys don’t share feelings” is so much nonsense.

Hope you all had a wonderful Father’s Day. I got to spend it with my son and my father, and there’s nothing in the world better than that.

**So since we’re all about Father’s Day on today’s blog post, I thought it would be a good day to run this new Foot Locker commercial that cracked me up. If you’re a basketball or sports fan the last few months you’ve probably heard of LaVar Ball, maybe the loudest, most obnoxious, completely clueless sports parent of all time.
LaVar is pops to three budding basketball superstars, the oldest of whom, Lonzo, finished a fabulous freshman year at UCLA, promptly turned pro, and now will be one of the Top 5 picks of this week’s NBA Draft.

LaVar brings overbearing to a new level, has made so many outlandish statements about Lonzo’s ability that to reprint them here would take hours (a sample: “Lonzo is better than Steph Curry right now”).

But thankfully, it seems like Lonzo is a good kid, with a good sense of humor. So he was willing to spoof his Dad’s ways in this commercial. Very well-done.

**Finally today, as a writer you encounter so many stories with ledes you wish you’d written (yes, that’s how we journalism nerds spell “lead,” because that’s just how we spell it in journalism), and the other day I saw this beauty Tweeted out by Wall Street Journal writer Jason Gay. It’s from the Bangor (Me.) Daily News writer Alex Acquisto, and it’s glorious.

“HOPE, Maine — While jogging on a familiar, overgrown, wooded trail near her home on a recent warm afternoon, Rachel Borch thought to herself, “what a beautiful day.”

Little did she know she was about to be attacked by a rabid raccoon she would end up killing with her bare hands.”

I mean, come on, there’s no way you’re NOT reading the rest of that story, right?  There’s video, too (no, not of her killing the raccoon, though that’d be awesome.)

 

Good News Friday: A choir of homeless people plays Carnegie Hall. A toddler helps his baby brother out of a crib, ingeniously. And a Dad interviews his daughters on first day of school, every day for 12 years.

And a Happy Friday to you, my fellow Earthlings. So much bad news in the world this week, but thankfully there was also plenty of good news to choose from, not the least of which is that ABC is bringing “Battle of the Network Stars” back! The greatest 1970s cheesy TV show ever is returning in two weeks, but very sadly, it will not pit stars of “NCIS” against “Blackish” but rather ridiculously, will have actual 1970s and ’80s TV stars competing against each other. I’m sorry, but I enjoyed seeing Erik Estrada and Charlene Tilton competing in the tug-of-war when they were actually young and fit, not when they’re now getting AARP cards.

Anyway, I’m still excited for it. But we begin today with a beautiful story out of Dallas. Meet the Dallas Street Choir, a music group like few others. It’s members are homeless, but certainly not voiceless. They were founded several years ago by a Texas conductor named Jonathan Palant, after he volunteered at a homeless shelter. The members aren’t always on key, but their message is always positive, and hopeful.

We may be homeless, but we’re not voiceless,” choir member Michael Brown said at a rehearsal Tuesday, “so let’s use our effort to remind people that we still have hope and it will never die.”

The Dallas Street Choir had its biggest stage yet this week; on Wednesday night they performed at Carnegie Hall here in New York. They were joined by other homeless people from the Big Apple, as well as a few world-class musicians. The legendary venue sold out, and Thursday night the choir performed at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Watch this video of choir members explaining their motivations and how much being in the choir has changed them. Just so inspiring.

**Next up today, this cracked me up to no end. Oliver, a creative toddler, wants his baby brother Finn to play with him. Finn is stuck in his crib and can’t climb out to play. So Oliver comes over and within a few seconds, figures out a way to help.

Then Oliver directs Finn on how to “escape.” Man, brothers can get into a lot of trouble together…

**And finally today, if you’re a parent, get the tissues ready now. Trust me.

A Seattle man named Kevin Scruggs has two teenage daughters, and about 12 years ago he had an idea: He interviewed his daughters on the first day of school, every year, and filmed their thoughts. Then, with oldest daughter MacKenzie graduating high school this year, he spliced the video together, and gives us three minutes of tearduct-activating beauty.

Look, my little guy is only starting pre-school this September and this video had my wife and I crying. What a fabulous idea Scruggs had; can’t wait to see the one for his other daughter in a few years.

 

Finding my 11th-grade essay brings back memories. The Popemobile becomes a bachelor party prop. And the robot that acts as a priest? Sounds great!

A personal post to start off today, if you’ll indulge me…

One of the hidden benefits no one tells you about when your parents get divorced when you’re still a kid is that your childhood artifacts and mementos are rarely, if ever, gone.

Fact is, with all of your stuff divided into two dwellings for the rest of your parents’ life, chances are one or the other will give you a call periodically over the next 25 years (as mine have) and tell you something like “Hey, I was going through the attic and found a bunch of your old projects from school, and your 4th grade report card, and a whole lot of other crap. Want it?”

To which I always say “Of course.”

So it was that I got a call like that from my dad last week, and when I saw him a few days later I was enthralled and thrilled to find that yes, I’d passed 4th grade (“Michael is a pleasant person who always tries his best!” Mr. Zimmerman wrote), that I was a runner-up in the 1989 Town of Smithtown tennis tournament (that’s me in all my giant-glasses, huge-Afro glory on the left up there, and yes, I, too wonder looking at that pic how I wasn’t swarmed by girls wanted to date me), and that apparently for a spell in 3rd grade I had much better handwriting than I do now.

But what really struck me as interesting was finding a five-page printout called “My Autobiography,” which from the proceeding details I can tell was written when I was a junior in high school. I’m guessing it was some class exercise designed to get us used to writing college application essays, and in re-reading it I was transported back in time to the spring of 1992. It’s rare that as an adult we get to read a piece of self-analysis from decades ago, so I dove right in.

Full disclosure: I wasn’t the happiest of kids in high school, wasn’t popular, looked gawky and geeky, and so I nodded and winced when I read my opening statement that, despite adults “always telling me that these are the best years of my life, … I just don’t think this is as good as life gets.”

I went for a little bit about my “accomplishments” so far, some nice self-puffery about my modest junior tennis career, my grades (I was a B student) and my other activities. I was glad that my memory is correct in that by then I knew I wanted to be a sportscaster or sportswriter (I wanted to be the next Marv Albert, but alas, it never happened.)

But what really struck me all these years later was what I wrote about my parents’ divorce, which had occurred just two years prior.

“Life has a way of changing you before you’re ready and forcing you to grow up sooner than you want to,” I wrote, “and that’s what this did… “I’m a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason… I believe that the reason for my parents’ divorce was to show me that life isn’t always fantasyland and sugar-coated, and that yes, this could happen to me. As unbelievable as this might seem, I actually believe the divorce benefited me a little, because it showed me what the real world was all about.”

I winced reading that, because I don’t remember thinking that or writing that at all back then. I’m surprised that just two years after it happened, I had moved from denial about my parents splitting up into “this is going to help me in life.” In my memory, I didn’t get anywhere close to “this divorce is a good thing” until well into college. I’m surprised at my cynicism here; my parents had a terrific relationship post-divorce, and still do, and yet here I am at age 16 talking about how this forced me to grow up sooner, and how that’s a good thing.

It really is interesting how in life our memories so often clash with reality. My 11th-grade self sounds a lot healthier, psychologically, than I remember.

**Next up today, this struck me as incredibly cool. With dude-bros everybody looking for a cool or different kind of bachelor party, I think we’ve finally found one that blows away the “Vegas trip” or “strip club” genre. Check this out: The Dublin Wax Museum in Ireland now owns and rents out an old Popemobile made for John Paul II  in 1979. The Museum “pimped” it out by giving it 15 seats, including a papal throne you can sit on (or throw up on, if you’ve already had a few too many pints of Guinness. There’s also a rooftop viewing balcony (“Dudes, check out the view from up here!)

For the low low price of $388, you and your buddies can cruise Dublin and violate every rule the church holds dear.

What a world we live in!

**And finally today, it’s been FAR too long since I’ve written about one of my favorite blog topics: Robots taking over the world. But thanks to the brilliant minds in Germany, robot world domination is one step closer. Please meet the “BlessU-2,” a robot designed to offer blessings, and forgive your sins, with a touchscreen, glowing hands and it speaks five different languages!

Can’t you just see in the future, instead of going to confession 10-year-old altar boys who stole wine just have to punch in a few buttons on a robot and, poof!, salvation?

Sounds good to me. Course, I’m Jewish, so …

With so much oxygen sucked up over Trump, let’s not forget the health care debacle GOP is trying to pull. The most incredible in-game promotion race you’ll ever see at the ballpark. And Nadal and Ostapenko amaze at Roland Garros

The drumbeat is unceasing, hour after hour, day after day. There is so much coverage, in print, on the Internet, on the radio and TV, of the latest stupid thing President Donald Trump has said, or done, or threatened to do, that it overwhelms you.

You spend so much time trying not to laugh when one of his own sons contradicts what the President has said about to James Comey, or when you read that this egomaniac lunatic in the Oval Office actually demanded GOP House members go on TV to defend him after the Comey testimony, or that someone who blasted Obama for always playing golf has spent every weekend of his Presidency on the links.

My point is, the Orange Cheeto-man sucks up so much oxygen, it’s so easy to get lost in his drama, and forget the real, sinister things going on in the Senate right now. Especially when it comes to health care.

As you read this, Mitch McConnell and his merry band are planning to ram through new health care legislation that will cost millions their health insurance, and give huge breaks to corporations. This bill is being crafted in secret, by a handful of men, without any hearings, discussions, budget analysis, or amendments. It is the complete opposite, in every way, of the ObamaCare process, which took more than a year to complete, and was packed with GOP-favored amendments. (Go ahead and disagree, GOP, with this plea from Sen. Claire McCaskill.)

But you’re not hearing nearly as much as you should about this horrendous miscarriage of justice, but everything is Trump, Trump, Trump. It is one of many, many unfortunate results of the 2016 election, that so much nefariousness is going on in the Oval that lots of other deleterious changes are happening while few are paying full attention.

Here’s an ad the Democratic Senate Committee has put out, that ought to shock people into action:

It is a disgrace that a health care bill that will affect so many millions, is only discussed in secret.

For shame.

**And now, maybe the funniest in-game baseball promotion ever. So the Atlanta Braves are terrible once again this season, in their first year in a new stadium, but they’ve got one awesome contest. They’ve come up with this gimmick called “Beat the Freeze,” and it goes like this: “The Freeze” is a former college sprinter from Iowa Wesleyan College, and every game he races a fan. The fan gets a huge head start, then “The Freeze”tries to catch him.

This is what happened Friday night, and it’s one of the greatest athletic feats you’ll ever see. The expression on the fan’s face when he realizes “The Freeze” has caught up to him is freaking priceless. So, so great. Hope it gives you a Monday laugh.

**And finally, the French Open concluded over the weekend with one wholly expected result, and one shocker.

The expected was, of course, the incomparable Rafael Nadal, utterly destroying the competition on his way to a Grand Slam. There’s a lot of numbers I could throw at you about how dominant Rafa was in winning his record 10th (10!) French Open titles, but try this one on for size: In the semifinals Nadal played the No. 6 player in the world and the No. 3 player in the world. In six sets, he lost a total of 13 games. That. Is. Insane. Even for Nadal, who has been winning on clay forever.

As the great Jon Wertheim pointed out, imagine at the start of 2017 someone told you Federer and Nadal would win the first 2 Slams, most of the major events in between, and be the two best players of the year so far. You’d have probably told them to lay off the drugs. But here we are, going into what should be an awesome Wimbledon in a few weeks.

The big shock at Roland Garros was Jelena Ostapenko, a 20-year-old Latvian who was still a teenager when the tournament started. She was ranked 47th in the world coming in, but slugged and shrieked her way to the title. An amazing accomplishment, because you almost never seen players this young win majors anymore (the sport has become too physical for younger players to win seven matches over two weeks).