A heartwarming story of an inner-city school and the “Humans of New York” guy. Fallon and The Roots score again. And “Goodnight Moon,” hilariously deconstructed

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Still buzzing, like everyone else, over the news that Harper Lee wrote a sequel to “To Kill A Mockingbird” 50 years ago and it’s going to be released this summer.
Totally torn about it: Thrilled to read something else by the author of one of my all-time favorite books, but scared it won’t be good and partially ruin the original.

Here’s a dirty little secret of the newspaper world: Most of the best stories in the paper every day aren’t on Page One.

They’re often buried inside, because of a variety of reasons, but every so often you can find a treasure if you look hard enough.

In Sunday’s New York Times, on Page 2 of the Metro section (which I never used to read when I didn’t live in NYC but now read religiously), I read a story about a wonderful school in Brooklyn called Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a school with a ton of low-income students who come from nearby and have very little given to them.
The principal there, Nadia Lopez, is an incredible woman who inspires, pushes and demands excellence from her students.
Anyway, last month a student from the school ran into Brandon Stanton, who photographs the wildly popular blog and book “Humans of New York.”

One thing led to another, and Stanton soon helped raise $100,000 to allow Lopez to take her whole school to visit Harvard University. Then $1 million was raised, and donations keep pouring into the school, and it’s just wonderful.

“For me, it just goes to show the spirit of humanity,” Lopez said. “People are literally investing and giving back to these scholars.”

If you read one thing today, make it this little story, buried in the Metro section. It’s just a treasure.

**Next up, I didn’t see this until Monday but Jimmy Fallon, who I have to admit hasn’t had too many “viral” clips that have interested me in recent months, knocked it out of the park on his post-Super Bowl show.

First, he, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart did a really funny “lip synch-off” with a special appearance by Drew Barrymore.
But what really was awesome was this a capella version of “We Are the Champions,” featuring Fallon and The Roots, in a “Brady Bunch”-style layout.

Very, very cool. By the way, between this and the Snickers commercial, that’s TWO “Brady Bunch” mentions on Super Bowl Sunday, 2015. Who the hell ever thought that could happen?

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**Finally today, maybe this will appeal to my fellow parents of infants more than most of the rest of you, but then again, any parent will find it hilarious.

The classic children’s story “Goodnight Moon” is a classic for a reason: It’s fantastic, and simple, and timeless.

But the blog theuglyvolvo.com decided to take a little “reality” test with the story, and the results are really funny. I mean come on, they’re right, what kid has a bedroom that huge?

Really funny stuff, go ahead and read the dissection, but you may never look at “Goodnight Moon” again.

A damn entertaining Super Bowl, with some great commercials to boot. And Serena and Djokovic rule again at Australian Open

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Never in Super Bowl history have so many jaws hit the floor at the exact same time as they did a little after 10 p.m. Sunday night, in one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played.

You don’t have to ask what I’m talking about. From sea to shining sea, all 110 million football fans watched the Seattle Seahawks just GIVE away a championship to the New England Patriots in the final seconds of Super Bowl 49.

At the 1-yard-line, with :30 left, with the BEST SHORT-YARDAGE BACK in the NFL on your team (Marshawn Lynch), with a touchdown winning the game, the Seahawks decided to throw the ball.

I had to watch it four times to actually believe what they did. But it happened. And Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted, and the Patriots won, and oh my God that was one sensational football game.

And it’s too bad that so many great moments from the game will be forgotten because of the worst play-call in Super Bowl history. The incredible Jermaine Kearse catch to get Seattle down there in the final minute (and if that had led to a Seahawks win, on yet another fluke/crazy catch in a Super Bowl, the entire New England region would’ve been on suicide watch, I think).

Tom Brady, cool as Fonzie, bringing his team back from 10 down. The great games by guys you never heard of, like Seattle’s Chris Matthews and New England’s Malcolm Butler.

One of the five best Super Bowls of my lifetime, with an ending that’ll never be forgotten.
It pains me, really, really pains me to type this.  But congratulations to the legends, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. To win four Super Bowls in 14 years is insanely difficult, and worthy of much praise.

Some other Super Bowl thoughts from my scattered brain…

— Idina Menzel sang the hell out of the anthem. God, what a voice.

— Loved the cool new NBC overhead camera angle they showed us at times; really let you see the whole field.

— Real classy, Doug Baldwin of the Seahawks, pretending to poop out the ball after scoring a TD (NBC cut away from this delightful act, but it’s all over the Internet if you haven’t seen it.) Your whole life, you wait to score in the Super Bowl, and that’s what you do?

**Loved a bunch of the Super Bowl commercials, including the Dove for Men ad (yes, of course me being a new father had a little to do with that), the Budweiser Lost Puppy ad, and this Snickers “Brady Bunch” ad was hilarious:

I also loved the Dodge commercial featuring the 100-year-old people giving pearls of wisdom. And I thought the Nissan commercial with the race-car driver and Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle” was good too, though as many pointed out on Twitter, Chapin died in a car accident so maybe not the best idea to have his song there, Nissan?

**On the other hand, that Nationwide commercial? Way too dark. Scared the hell out of me. Yes, let’s talk about kids dying from being unsafe on the Super Bowl.

— Didn’t watch much of the halftime show, since Katy Perry doesn’t do it for me. But seeing dolphin mascots dance alongside her was … interesting.

— It’s unconscionable that the Pats’ Julian Edelman wasn’t checked for a concussion after that severe hit he took in the fourth. It’s all about the safety of the players, right Roger Goodell?

— No more football for awhile. Boo.

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**Finally today, I want to say a few words about Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, who just completed dominating performances in winning the Australian Open, once again.

Serena, who it’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog I have long loathed for her poor sportsmanship and arrogance on and off the court, was once again her dominant self. She now has 19 Grand Slam singles titles, rapidly closing the gap on Margaret Court’s total of 24 (and let’s be clear, it’s MUCH harder to win Slams these days, because the field is so much tougher than it was in Court’s day.)

She’s inching up the ladder toward being considered by most tennis experts as the greatest of all time. I still have her behind Steffi Graf and Martina, but it’s damn close. Serena is an incredible athlete, an unmatched competitor with a killer instinct like few others.

And Novak Djokovic? Well, he just about owns the Australian Open now, winning it for the fifth time. His defense, his shot-making, his mental toughness, just so impressive. Andy Murray had plenty of chances to win Sunday, and he played great at times.

But Djokovic was fitter, stronger, and better. He’s not in Rafa or Roger Federer’s category yet when it comes to all-time greats, but shoot, he’s getting closer.

Great Australian Open.

Good News Friday: “The Americans” is back, and it’s STILL best show on TV. H.S. kids destroy Bill O’Reilly. And a website that plays the music of your life

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And a happy Friday to you all. It’s cold and snowy and slushy here in NYC, and I stepped in 11 puddles in about four blocks today but hey, it’s Friday and the Super Bowl’s here which means lots of good commercials and maybe even some real, fully-inflated footballs will be thrown around.

First up on Good News Friday I must, must, must talk about the best show on television, which returned for its third season on Wednesday night.

I’ve been banging the drum for this incredible drama since it started; the tale of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, appearing to live life as a normal American couple in 1982 but in actuality being undercover KGB operatives is brilliantly written, acted and directed.

Season 1 was terrific, Season 2 was sensational, as Philip and Elizabeth (played by Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) saw the stakes get raised in their family life, and in their “professional” lives.

I cannot stress enough how good this show is, so good you are almost rooting for the Russians in the Cold War. This season’s storyline, about the Soviets wanting Philip and Elizabeth to finally tell their teenage daughter who they really are, and then begin training her as a spy, looks great. The season premiere was fantastic, totally sucking me back in. (Of course being a child of the ’80s I love the constant pop-culture references; this week we got a reference to Frusen-Gladje ice cream!)

“The Americans,” on FX network. Wednesdays at 10. It’s the best show on television, bar none. So happy it’s back.

**Next up, this was on Daily Kos the other day and, as loyal reader Sanford put it, gives me hope for the future of America.

Last summer Bill O’Reilly and his hatchet-man producer went to Bennington, Vermont and put together a hit-piece on how liberal and “out of touch” Vermont is compared to the rest of America.

But they made so many mistakes, factual, ethical, etc., that students from Mount Anthony High School in Bennington decided to do a rebuttal video, pointing out all the errors O’Reilly and Co. made, in a wonderful example of actual journalism.

Killer quotes at the end: “Based on our studies about the field of journalism, we have determined that you’re not practicing journalism. You’re practicing rank propaganda.” […]

“By watching Fox News, we have learned buckets about journalism – what to do and, more importantly, what never to do. It is our hope that Fox News can learn the very same from watching us.”

The good part starts around the 1:30 mark.

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**Finally today, saw this on Twitter Thursday and it made me smile (and sucked up about 20 minutes of my life, but it was totally worth it.)

A website called RetroJ.am asks you to enter in your date of birth, and then proceeds to catalog the music of your childhood.

Using Spotify’s technology, it gives you the music that was popular and interesting in every year of your childhood (when I was in 4th grade, “Part-Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder was big. Love that song.), and you can even add to it later.

Literally, it’s the music of your life. And it’s fantastic.
Now if you’ll excuse me, “Jack and Diane” is a song 6-year-old me loved, and 39-year-old me does, too.

Check out Retrojam, it’s awesome.

Jon Stewart on the GOP 2016 field: It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, but still funny. The real-life Doogie Howser who fooled a Florida hospital. And whale testicle-flavored beer? Sure, why not

So even though it’s still Jan. 2015, a whole bunch of Republicans are already running for President.

Which is sad for the good people of Iowa, who, a year from the caucus, are probably already sick of seeing old white men promising them the moon on their televisions.

But it’s wonderful for people like the great Jon Stewart, who really was shooting fish in a barrel this week, as he commented on the “Iowa Freedom Summit,” which is a ridiculous name for a gathering of a bunch of Presidential hopefuls put together by far, far, far right wingnut Rep. Steve King.

Of all the ridiculousness on display, though, none of the candidates touched Sarah Palin for sheer inanity.

Stewart saves her for last, but really the whole thing is pretty damn funny (If the clip above disappears, click here to watch it.)

**Next up, it’s been awhile since I’ve given you a crazy news story from the state of Florida. Not because there hasn’t been weird news from Florida, I’ve just not blogged about it.

But this one, pointed out to me by loyal friend and reader Mike T., is too good to ignore. A 17-year-old kid in West Palm Beach pretended to be a doctor at a clinic for a whole month before anyone noticed or realized he wasn’t a physician.

Yep, the youngish-looking dude with a white coat and stethescope making the rounds at St. Mary’s Medical Center was channeling his inner Doogie Howser (I’m sure you had a Vinnie Delpino in his life as well).

My favorite part of this story is the quote at the :43 mark. I mean, it’s pretty funny, but also pretty scary, right?
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**And finally, I’m not much of a beer drinker, as anyone who knows me can attest (serioiusly, I don’t like the taste of it, and after 1 1/2 beers I’m pretty much unsafe to drive), but even for hard-core Norm Petersons out there, this has to be pretty gross, right?

A company in Finland called Stedji Brewery has decided to make a beer flavored with smoked whale testicles for the annual month-long winter celebration of Thorri, (honoring the God Thor, of course). It’s called Hvalur 2, and made with the balls of the endangered fin whale.

Not only is this a pretty disgusting use of whale fin, but who the hell would want to drink this?

“We work the testicle by the old traditional way,” brewery co-owner Dabjartur Arilíusson told Beverage Daily. “We smoke it with dried sheep shit.” This method gives it a unique smoked flavor, and we also get a bit of the meaty taste in the beer.”

Man, would I love to see what the commercials for this beer would look like…

“Parenthood” roars to the finish line with tears and joy. Tie Domi’s kid with an incredible hockey goal. And the U.S. women come alive at the Aussie Open

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As we await Snowpocalypse 2015 here in NYC, I must of course give a major tip of the cap to Mike Krzyzewski for his 1,000th win Sunday over St. John’s. Obviously I’m biased as a huge Duke fan, but 1,000 wins is an incredible number. He’s the greatest coach in the history of the sport, and it’s an amazing accomplishment. Now, if he can just teach this current group a little defense, national title No. 5 could be coming to Durham in April…

“Parenthood” is down to its final episode this Thursday night, and man, is this show going out with a bang.

I have loved it from the beginning, occasionally hated it and gotten mad at it for some unrealistic decisions involving characters and money, but mostly been way too fascinated with it to stop watching.

And as it comes down to the finish, man, the tissues have been out at my house. This wonderful ensemble keeps giving us beautiful “farewell”-type emotions, manipulating us into feeling joy and sadness all at the same time.

OK, SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN LAST WEEK’S EPISODE YET, SKIP DOWN TO THE VIDEO BELOW.

Last week’s was one of the show’s best episodes ever: Amber giving birth (and of course, naming her baby after her apparently soon-to-die Grandpa Zeke, which even though you knew she would do that, it was still emotional), the great scene with Amber and Sarah singing Joni Mitchell, the Joel/Julia relationship patch-up getting rocky, and of course the totally awesome Braverman family screaming match in the hospital waiting room, when Kristina, who I never agree with, rightly calling out Jasmine for guilting Adam into staying with the recording studio. (My wife thought that was “Parenthood’s” best scene ever).

With one week to go, I’m sad to see such a show with heart go off the air. I don’t know how Zeke’s going to die, but I’m sure he will (a heart attack walking Sarah down the aisle?)

Frustrating at times but always with its heart in the right place, “Parenthood” will be sorely missed in the Lewis house. And lots of others, too, I’m sure.

**Next up, this is one of the coolest goals I’ve ever seen. Max Domi is a major prospect in the Arizona Coyotes’ organization, and he now plays for the junior London Knights of the Ontario (Can.) Hockey League.

He’s also the son of legendary NHL goon Tie Domi, and suffice to say Tie never scored any goals like this.

Just awesome…

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**Finally today, we’re in Week Two of the Australian Open tennis tournament now, always one of my favorites even though I can no longer stay up late to watch the 3:30 a.m. night matches from Melbourne (Ah, my 20s, when I could do such a thing.)

And it’s been a fabulous tournament so far, even though my boy Federer was shockingly knocked out early. The best part has been the performance of the American women, the youngsters coming up behind Venus and Serena who’ve been talked about for years.

We had seven American ladies reach the final 32, and four in the final 16. Coco Vandeweghe and Varvara Lepchenko, and even Taylor Townsend, who lost in Round 1 and is probably a future Grand Slam champion, looked good.

But the biggest stories have been 24-year-old Delaware native (yeah Delaware!) Madison Brengle, who won 7 pro tour level matches in her career before 2015, and yet played Sunday night in the 4th round against Madison Keys (above), a legit Top 10 talent who’s only 19 and is making her Grand Slam breakthrough. (Fun fact: Last year at the French Open, Keys had the fastest average groundstroke speed of anyone in the event, man OR woman. Crazy.)

The American men … eh, we’re still waiting for the next generation to become major forces on the tour (Francis Tiafoe, Stefan Kozlov, our lonely eyes turn to you).

But it’s great to see the U.S. women finally making some noise. If we’re lucky, Venus will win Sunday night and play Keys in the quarterfinals, guaranteeing a U.S. woman into the semis.

 

The triumph of “Selma,” an extraordinary film. A mom builds a Hogwarts castle out of Lego. And a 109-year-old woman reveals secrets of long life

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Some movies, you just know you’re going to love.

Take “Selma.” You have a biopic about one of the greatest speakers and writers of all time in Martin Luther King, Jr. (and I’m a writer). You set the movie right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement (and the 1960s is by far my favorite part of American history). You get universal acclaim from all the top critics, a whiff of controversy about one of the most underrated and fascinating Presidents ever (LBJ), and yeah, let’s just say it was highly, highly likely that I was going to like this flick.

And when I finally saw it Monday (yes, on MLK Day, just worked out that way since my wife was off from work and could watch our little munchkin), I was as moved, and touched by the movie, as I’d hoped.

This thing ought to be shown in schools, and be fairly required viewing for anyone studying the 1960s, for many reasons.
For one, it very much demythologizes King; instead of the “Godded-up” version we get taught and have heard forever, here is a King who clearly cheats on his wife, isn’t always sure of himself, and worries constantly about whether the move he’s about to make is the right one. David Oyewelo is fantastic as King, and it’s pathetic that he didn’t get an Oscar nomination.

Another reason “Selma” shines is how well it portrays the climactic events at the Edmund Pettis Bridge, when King and Selma residents clash with police while trying to march for voting rights. The direction and cinematography are beautiful, and very different from most “protest battle” scenes you’ve seen in films. (Again, the Academy’s snub of Ava DuVurnay is just ridiculous).

The script is terrific, the supporting actors are superb (Carmen Ejogo’s Coretta Scott King and the young John Lewis, played by Stephan James) and the movie moves through the events of 1965 very smoothly.

Now, the LBJ controversy… there has been much hue and cry over how the movie presents Lyndon Johnson, with lots of old liberal friends and admirers of Johnson saying it unfairly shows him as an obstacle to King, rather than a partner.

I have to say having now seen the movie that LBJ really doesn’t come off that bad. Sure the movie distorts history a little, but it’s a movie, not a documentary. And LBJ does get a wonderful scene with Alabama Governor George Wallace near the end that makes him look good.

In short, see “Selma.” It’s a superb film that will make you see Martin Luther King a little differently, a little more human. A really great movie. (For more on “Selma,” here’s a really great column by Charlie Pierce.)

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**Next up on Good News Friday, this woman totally deserves Mom of the Year right now, and it’s only January.

Alice Finch, a Seattle mother of two, spend a year of her life making an exact replica of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Castle, strictly out of LEGO pieces.

Forty-freaking-thousand LEGO pieces, to be exact.

The photo above is from her Flickr page; check out more of them here.

I SO want to fly to Seattle to play with that thing right now.

**And finally, this made me laugh and smile. Jessie Gallan of Scotland is a 109-year-old woman, which means she was born before the Titanic sank, among other things.

She recently told UK’s Daily Mail newspaper that the “secret to a long life has been staying away from men. They’re just more trouble than they’re worth.”

Hey, seems to have worked for her. Glad most women disagree with her…

 

Greg Anthony and why athletes paying for sex will always puzzle me. Pixar’s 22 rules for telling a great story. And Steph Curry exudes pure joy

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Wrote this post while watching Obama’s State of the Union speech: Lots of thoughts, but need to get to bed. So I’ll just share this: While listening to our President, a Democrat, rattle off all the encouraging statistics and facts about where America stands these days, my brain kept screaming: WHY DIDN”T ALL YOU DEMOCRATS WHO RAN AND LOST IN 2014 SAY SOME OF THIS STUFF IN YOUR RACES?
Maybe then Obama would have a Congress he could actually work with.

Sigh. On with the show…

OK, hear me out on this, something I alluded to in the intro to my post on Monday:

Greg Anthony is famous. He had a fantastic college basketball career at UNLV, a solid but not spectacular career in the NBA, and is now a well-respected broadcaster for TNT and CBS.

He is extremely well-known, well-spoken, and most assuredly wealthy.  I covered pro sports a bit in my journalism career and I can tell you that men like Anthony, whether they were still active or not, had absolutely zero trouble finding women to sleep with them when they were on the road.

These women would literally stalk NBA team hotels and make the players their prey, some not stopping until they had bedded an athlete. (Not at all saying the athletes were helpess to stop it, just saying I saw some really aggressive women)
And yet, last week Greg Anthony, famous and wealthy man that he is, was arrested in Washington, D.C. for soliciting a transgender prostitute. 

I just don’t get it. Why? Why does Greg Anthony need to pay for sex? Is it just that he’s too lazy to actually talk to women? Is it that some part of him is insecure and he doesn’t think he could get a stranger to sleep with him without paying for it?

I think I understand why so many male politicians, pumped full of ego, cheat on their spouses: They think they’re indestructible, they think they deserve it, they don’t think they’ll get caught, yada yada yada.

But why professional athletes, even retired ones, go out and pay for sex is something I’ll never, ever understand.

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**Next up, I thought this was really cool. The folks at Pixar Studios, who do such a wonderful job making movies and drawing us all in with great storytelling, have posted a list of “22 rules of Storytelling.”

There are some real gems for writers of all kinds in here, including:

— “You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.”
— “When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.”
— “Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.”

They’re all really great rules; check out the whole list here:

**Finally today, is there a more joyous sports experience these days than watching Steph Curry play basketball?

Curry plays for the Golden State Warriors, maybe the best and most exciting team in the NBA. Trouble is, almost all their games start after 10 p.m. here in the East, so unless you’re a hard-core NBA fan you’re probably not watching anything more than highlights of Curry.

But man oh man, are there great highlights of the Warriors this season.
Curry, part whirling dervish, part shooting assassin, plays with such passion, such joy, such … ease that the things he does just jump off the screen. At least three or four times I’ve had my jaw drop watching some of the stuff he does.

This latest ridiculous highlight (above) was from a game last weekend. What a pass.
Man, he is so much fun to watch.

A heart-stopping finish and a snoozer: Seattle and New England advance to the Super Bowl. A great story on how MLK and Muhammad Ali became friends. And the best bribery story involving suckling pigs you’ll ever hear

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So much I want to blog about today, so little time: My red-hot New York Rangers keep rolling, beating the hell out of the hated Penguins Sunday; Duke bounced back with a huge win over Louisville, this North Korea/NSA spying thing just keeps getting stranger and stranger, another famous athlete got busted for prostitution and I can’t understand why they do it. (more on that one in Wednesday’s blog) … but we start where I must start: Championship Sunday in the NFL.

And the last five minutes of regulation/overtime of the Seahawks-Packers game, which was as bananas as anything I’ve seen in the NFL in a long, long time. To recap: Packers dominated the game but kept kicking field goals instead of scoring TD’s, Russell Wilson playing as bad a football game as he ever has, Seattle down 19-7 with five minutes to go… and they score three touchdowns, the last one in OT, to win and go back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year.

Epic, epic collapse by the Packers. You can blame the dude who fumbled the onside kick all you want, but the Green Bay defense melted like wax paper those last few drives.
From getting no pressure on Wilson, to not being able to cover the mediocre Hawks’ receivers, to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (yes that’s really his name) not knocking down the 2-point conversion that put Seattle up 22-19 (thus making the Packers’ field goal at the end of regulation a tying kick, not a winning kick), there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Hell, Seattle needed a fake field goal TD just to get on the scoreboard through 3 1/2 quarters, and they still found a way to win.

Russell Wilson can play for me anytime. What a player. I’m sick for the Packers fans this morning; thank God it’s a national holiday and those people don’t have to call in sick; they can mourn at home.

As for the other game … yeah, that was predictable. Andrew Luck may be great someday, but he needs a running game, a defense with a pass rush, and a lot more seasoning to be able to win a game like that up in New England. That was an annhilation, plain and simple, and now pretty boy Tom Brady and Coach Hoodie and a guy who should’ve been a Jet forever, Darrelle Revis, get to play in another Super Bowl (yes, I’m bitter about Revis.)

Should be a hell of a game. Big stars, great storylines, two very even teams … can’t wait till Feb. 1.

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**Next up, the great sportswriter/social commentator Dave Zirin wrote a terrific column for Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, about the unlikely friendship in the 1960s between Dr. King and Muhammad Ali.

Despite both being rabble-rousers with millions of followers, they were quite different in temperment and in their beliefs, with Ali favoring Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam’s way of achieving racial equality. But in the mid-60s Ali and King grew to respect and appreciate each other, and even develop a close friendship.

Zirin is excellent at these kinds of stories; highly recommend reading this slice of history.

**And finally today, this made me laugh and shake my head at the world we live in.

From the lede to a Washington Post story the other day (hat tip to Bruce Arthur’s Twitter feed for the heads up):

A Malaysian defense contractor pleaded guilty Thursday in a corruption scandal of epic proportions, admitting that he bribed “scores” of U.S. Navy officials with $500,000 in cash, six figures’ worth of sex from prostitutes, lavish hotel stays, spa treatments, Cuban cigars, Kobe beef, Spanish suckling pigs and an array of other luxury goods.

“That’s right sir, the money and cigars are great, but can you get me any suckling pigs? Because that’s what will REALLY make me give your company this contract. I wanna hear these pigs loud and clear, you understand me????”

The story is actually wild and fascinating the largest bribery case in Navy history; but I had trouble getting past the suckling pigs part.

Good News Friday: Ellen DeGeneres sets a Christian anti-gay pastor straight. A homeless shelter is turned into a 5-star restaurant. And New York City libraries donate Internet to the poor

And a happy Friday to you all; it’s been a bitterly cold week here in NYC, so if you’re reading this somewhere warm, I am glaring at you in anger through the screen (well, maybe not anger. Mild annoyance, maybe.)

First up on Good News Friday today is a really cool story near and dear to my heart. The folks at Break.com teamed up with the Ascencia Homeless Shelter in California to give those less fortunate a five-star restaurant experience, completely blowing their minds, and bringing lots of smiles. (the best part starts around the 2:20 mark).

Small gestures = huge appreciation.

**Next up, Ellen DeGeneres is a trailblazer in many ways, so she still gets her fair share of anti-gay bigots spewing venom her way.

She very rarely responds to them, but the other day on her show she did, and I thought this was fabulous…

**And finally today, the New York City library system is amazing, and I say that from first-hand experience.

But what they’re doing in low-income areas is worthy of high praise. According to this story, the NYPL is launching the nation’s largest Internet lending program, handing out 10,000 free high-speed hot spots to some of the city’s poorest residents.

The program, which offers the devices for up to a year, seeks to bridge a digital divide in the nation’s largest city, where studies have found nearly 3 million of the 8 million people lack broadband access.

“It is simply unfathomable that in the digital world in which we live, one-third of New Yorkers do not have access to broadband Internet at home, putting them at a serious disadvantage at school, in applying for jobs, and so much more,” said Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library.

It’s such a simple thing, but connecting those who don’t have the Web, to it, opens up a whole new world. I see it when I’ve substitute taught the last few years here in the city; schools that have computers for the kids to explore the Internet absolutely perform better than those that don’t.

Good for the NYPL. The Internet should be open to all.

Watching “Mr. Mom” again in a whole new way as a stay-at-home Dad. “Episodes” is back, and better than ever. And cats vs. dogs, part 4,554

So since I’m a stay-at-home Dad now I felt it was my Constitutional obligation as an American and a father to watch the 1982 classic “Mr. Mom” again, for the first time in, I don’t know, 20 years.

Since the movie came out the term “Mr. Mom” has become ubiquitious to stand for any Dad who doesn’t work outside the home, but stays inside and takes care of the kids.

I have to tell you, I loved “Mr. Mom” when I first saw it, but watching it now as a SAHD, it strikes me as equal parts pathetic and hilarious.

First, the title: I know it was 1982, but really, a man who stays at home is called “Mom?” Kind of insulting.

Then I had to laugh at the complete ineptitude of Michael Keaton’s character Jack. This guy can’t operate a washing machine, has no idea what to do at a supermarket, and pretty much acts like he’s never been around his kids before.

I’m here to tell you, in 1982 my father knew how to work a washing machine and go food shopping, and he wasn’t Superman.

Man, times have changed.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie was still funny. The washing machine come to life scene, the part where Jack has to take his son’s blankie (sorry, woobie) away, and lots of other bits were great.

But man, as sexist as so many Hollywood movies have been through the years toward women, this one was pretty sexist toward men.

Just about all the fathers I know, whether they’re stay-at-homes like me or working outside the house, are far, far more savvy about their kids’ lives than Keaton’s character in “Mr. Mom.”

I feel I’m sounding grumpy about “Mr. Mom” here. I don’t mean to; it was a fine flick for its time.

But man, it is just oh so dated, and a terrible representation of what good fathers really are.

**Next up, this skirmish in the centuries-old battle between dogs and cats. Can’t we all just get along?

I just love the cat’s expression the whole time, like. “really? We’re really doing this now?”

Episodes

**Finally, a few words about the funniest show on TV, that sadly not enough people watch. “Episodes” is back for its fourth season on Showtime, with the hilarious season premiere occurring last Sunday. Matt LeBlanc is once again playing an exaggerated version of himself, as a has-been actor on a terrible sitcom written by British couple Sean and Beverly Lincoln.

“Episodes” is laugh-out-loud funny, and this season has gotten off to a roaring start. I cannot recommend this show highly enough, and it boggles my mind how crap like “2 1/2 Men” gets nominated for Emmys every year, and “Episodes” can’t get a sniff.

Anyway, watch it.