The NYPD looks to the movie “Road House” for guidance. An awesome new commercial from Mentos. And the Prime Minister of Israel, desperately trying to stoke fears

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When I worked in Wilmington, N.C., right out of college I had a great buddy named Randy.

Randy and I worked on the newspaper together on the same late-night shifts, and we’d get off work, get some food, and go back to his apartment and play hour after hour of EA Sports NHL hockey on his Sega Genesis. (In this respect, we were like millions of other single guys in their 20s during the 1990s. Just watch the video game scene in “Swingers,” that’s what we were like.)

Anyway, Randy had many delightful quirks, but my favorite was his insistence that the greatest movie of all time is “Road House.” Yes, “Road House,” that awful Patrick Swayze movie from 1989 where he plays a tough bouncer who cleans up bad guys with his fists.

You should’ve seen the passion with which Randy would defend “Road House” when I mocked it. You’d think I’d insulted his mother or something.

Anyway, I haven’t talked to Randy in years but I smiled thinking of him this week, when I heard about this unbelievable but true story: The NYPD is using the film to help train its officers.

Seriously. Apparently the scene where Swayze’s character, Dalton, tells a bunch of tough guys to “be nice, until it’s time not to be nice” has been shown as part of a mandatory, three-day retraining course for 22,000 cops.

Yes, “Road House” as a training tool for the NYPD. What next, “Backdraft” as a teaching tool for the FDNY?

**Next up, following the Ad Week Twitter feed continues to lead me to advertising gold. Remember the old highly-mockable Mentos commercials from the 1980s and ’90s? I have to believe they were intentionally cheesy, because nothing that bad could be an accident.

Anyway, Mentos is back with some new commercials, and this ad for something called NOWMints is hilarious and weird. Enjoy…

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**Finally today, what can I say about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and what a ridiculous, pompous, obnoxious politician he increasingly is?

He came to the U.S. Tuesday at the invitation of GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner to address Congress, against the wishes of the President (can you imagine, by the way, if the Democrats had pulled something like this, ignoring George W. Bush’s wishes and inviting a foreign leader to speak to a Democratic-led Congress? The right-wing talking heads would still have smoke coming out of their ears.)

And what a surprise, in his speech Netanyahu basically poured a bucket of crap on the painstaking negotiations nearing completions between the U.S. and Iran over nuclear disarmament.

He doesn’t care that progress has been made, doesn’t care that an agreement is closer than it has been in ages. No, Bibi is as big a war hawk and fear-mongerer as there has ever been, and his insulting, condescending speech, lecturing America about the danger Iran presents (as if we were all clueless first-graders unaware of this) was yet another example of a man who does not want peace, or only wants peace under 100 percent his terms.

Of course this deal could be better, no agreement is ever perfect. And of course, Netanyahu offered no alternative solutions, because he doesn’t want one; he just wants to keep carping and screaming and whipping up America into a frenzy by arguing that no deal is good enough.

I don’t understand why this man is shown such unflinching support by American politicians, I really don’t. He’s nothing short of an impediment to peace, and it’s a disgrace he was given this forum on Tuesday to spew his fear-mongering.

Good riddance.

The GOP House of Rep. fights are great political theater, but damn scary. Newsweek’s awesomely bad 1995 predictions for Web. And kids play Led Zeppelin on xylophone and it’s awesome.

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So you know how sometimes when two groups or teams you really dislike start fighting with each other, it’s fun to just sit back, have some popcorn, and enjoy the spectacle as they try to destroy each other?

Like for me, when the Flyers play the Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Or the Patriots and Dolphins go at it in the NFL. Or when a Kardashian is in a fight with another Kardashian.

You get the point. Last Friday, while most of us were making weekend plans or thanking the heavens winter is almost over, two of my least-favorite groups of politicians were once again having a little deathmatch, and it was a tiny bit fun to watch.
Yep, the Tea Party Republicans and the “regular old conservative” Repubs had yet another tussle, and once again it blew up in everyone’s faces.

If you missed it, a quick 100-word recap: The GOP hates Obama’s immigration executive action from last fall, and threatened to stop funding the Dept. of Homeland Security at the end of February if the re-funding didn’t include blocking implementation of Obama’s executive action.

So with a deadline looming on Friday, House Speaker John Boehner (who, frighteningly, is now considered a “moderate” in the House) cobbled together a plan that would fund DHS for three more weeks, at which point, I don’t know, we’d go through all this again.

But for at least the third time in the last couple of years, a plan the GOP put together themselves was voted down by the GOP as a whole, a one-week extension was agreed on, and now this Friday we’ll be back in the same spot.

I mean, in one sense, this is hilarious. Liberals like me enjoy the self-destruction of a party from within, and seeing nutjob lunatics from the GOP right-wing fringe attack those in power is a true window into crazy.

But you know what? It’s also kind of scary. Because just like last time they had the majority in both houses, the GOP can’t get anything done. Forget about convincing Democrats to go along with anything; they can’t agree on anything themselves. Which means we’ve got at least 2 more years of zero legislation coming out of Congress.
I forgot where I read this this weekend or I’d link it, but it IS nice seeing the other party eat its young, instead of the Dems doing it.

Ah, the GOP House. More entertaining than anything on TV.

**Next up, this went viral last week and totally deserved it: Meet the Louisville Leopard Percussionists, a group of 7-12 year old musicians who did an awesome set of Led Zeppelin songs, on the xylophone? Jimmy Page himself shared this on Facebook; how cool are these kids?

**And finally, one thing longtime readers know about me is that I love to highlight hilariously bad or strange Internet “predictions” from the 1980s or early ’90s.

Well, this story, pointed to me by my smart friend Christine G., might take the cake for wrongness, and hilarity. Clifford Stoll, writing for Newsweek, penned a story in 1995 with the headline “Why Web won’t be nirvana,”  and among his declarations:

— “The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”

— “How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it’s an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet. Uh, sure.”

And my personal favorite…

–“Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping—just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obsolete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet—which there isn’t—the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.”

Poor Mr. Stoll. It’s one thing to get a prediction wrong, but this is SO hilariously wrong I feel he deserves to be mocked.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to my local mall to buy something for twice the price of what it is online, because I just really miss salespeople!

 

Good News Friday: The longest hockey game ever raises millions for charity. Kenny G and Warren G duet on Kimmel? Sure! And a Lauren Hill update, she’s still alive and fighting cancer.

And a Happy Friday to you all, it’s almost March which means two incredibly exciting things in my world: 1, March Madness is almost here (yay!), and 2, winter is almost over.

Three more stories/videos to brighten your world today, whereever you are:

First, remember the incredible story of Lauren Hill, the women’s college basketball player at Mount St. Joseph’s (Ohio) University? As a high school senior last year she was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, which is a rare tumor that destroys brain cells and squeezes off vital functions.

It is inoperable, there is no known cure, and doctors told Hill last summer that she likely only had months to live.

To help Lauren live out her dream of playing college hoops at least once, Mount St. Josephs and the NCAA allowed the team’s season opener to be moved up to November 2, and the video of Lauren scoring a layup is enough to bring tears to the eyes of the most hardened cynics.

After that wonderful moment, it seemed likely that tragically the next time we’d hear about Lauren is when she passed away.
But here we are in late February and there Lauren was Tuesday night, celebrating the season-ending banquet with the team, and despite, as this news story says, “her face bloated due to steroid treatments and barely able to hold her head up,” she signed autographs and jerseys. (The part with Lauren’s interview starts around 2:15).

What an incredibly brave, wonderful woman. Of course this story will end in tragedy, but how wonderful and uplifting that she’s still fighting, still inspiring, long after medical science believed she could.

**Next up, Jimmy Kimmel puts together wildly different musicians to perform one of their hit songs on “Mashup Mondays,” and this past Monday night was awesome.

Hat tip to my friend Scott for pointing me to this; Warren G and Kenny G (yes, that Kenny G, the saxophone dude) singing the Warren G and Nate Dogg classic “Regulate.”

I mean, do you think these two G’s have ever been in the same room before this? They’re not even in the same musical universe.
And yet, the song still works.

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**Finally today, the longest hockey game ever played happened last week, and it wasn’t the Stanley Cup playoffs or a college game.

No, the longest game ever played lasted 246 consecutive hours, was played in Alberta, Canada, and raised money for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

Two hundred and forty-six hours of hockey. That’s incredible. That’s more than 10 days’ worth of the greatest sport on ice. You know how many line changes that is, how many icings? How many offsides? Man.

As of early Monday afternoon organizers said $800,000 had been raised. The goal for the charity event is $1 million.

Can’t think of a more fun way to raise money for charity than playing hockey forever.

 

Michael Sam seems to want it both ways, and that disappoints me. A girls basketball game where both teams tried to lose on purpose. And Bill Maher, as right as rain about pot’s continued criminalization

New Orleans Saints v St. Louis Rams

Let me start by saying how much I admire Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by the NFL.

He showed great courage in coming out when he did, he’s handled the media attention with class, and I sincerely hope NFL GM’s get past their squeamishness and give the man a real shot to make a roster this year.

So I’m firmly in Sam’s corner, 100 percent, and think he’s a great role model for young gay athletes.

But I gotta say, I cannot for the life of me understand why, as announced Tuesday, Michael Sam is going to be a castmember on “Dancing With The Stars” this spring.

Since he came out of the closet, Sam has said over and over again that he just wants to be a football player, nothing else. Hell, just last week he wrote this heartfelt essay in Sports Illustrated, talking about his NFL dreams and working out so hard for the chance to be a pro player.

Yet twice now, he’s tried to be something else. First last year before training camp when he’d agreed to let Oprah’s production company do a reality show at Rams training camp (thankfully that was nixed.)

And now, during the NFL offseason when he’s hoping to get signed, he agrees to be on a dancing show that usually stars washed-up TV personalities (Suzanne Somers) or C-list celebrities.

What does that say to an NFL team who wants to sign Sam? To me it says he’s a guy who’s more interested in being famous than making a roster.

I don’t know, maybe Sam has his reasons for doing “Dancing With The Stars.” Maybe they offered him a lot of money, maybe he thinks he can still train for football and practice his samba.

But it just seems so counter-productive to his professed true goal. This show is another obstacle in his way, and Lord knows he doesn’t need any more of those.

**Next up, the great Bill Maher took on one of his (and mine) favorite issues on his show Friday night: The sheer ridiculousness of pot use being criminalized to the extent that thousands of non-violent pot users are in prison right now.
Maher’s jumping off point to this was Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz admitting (gasp!) that they may have toked once or twice.

This is a very funny clip, sure, but it’s ridiculous that we’re still criminalizing people for marijuana use in 2015. Maher’s right: Obama has stepped up on a bunch of issues the past few years, let’s see him and the new A.G. (whenever she finally gets approved) step up on this.

**Finally today, here’s something I’m not sure I’ve seen before in high school sports: Two girls basketball teams, in a district tournament game, both trying really hard to lose on purpose.

Tennessee’s Riverdale High and Smyrna High played a District 7-AAA consolation game last Saturday, with the winner having to face powerhouse Blackman High in the semifinals of the Region 4-AAA playoffs.

Neither team wanted to play Blackman, and the losing team would go to the other side of the bracket and not have to play Blackman until the finals, by which point both Blackman and its opponent would have qualified for the state playoffs.

So given those facts, the coaches from both teams instructed their players to lose on purpose. That’s right, intentionally shoot at the wrong basket, desperately try to make turnovers, take intentional backcourt violations… you name it.

It was a farce, a true embarrassment, and after Smyrna “won” the game, the state athletic association disqualified both teams from further postseason play.

I mean, this is HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS, what kind of values and morals and sportsmanship are you teaching your players when you tell them to miss on purpose?
The great David Climer of the Tennessean newspaper (where I interned in the summer of 1996, and absolutely loved the city of Nashville) wrote a terrific column about this mess.

Among the worst Oscar shows ever, but the speeches were great. And a brilliant commercial starring Jesus and his marketing guys

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Wow. Well, that Academy Awards show Sunday night … existed.

Man. I really thought Neil Patrick Harris would be great, fresh, new and different, the quality of movies this year was great, and, well, shouldn’t the Oscars be entertaining every year?

But sheesh, that was not a good show. At all. Thank God for a bunch of fabulous acceptance speeches. Graham Moore, urging kids to “stay weird” and admitting he tried to kill himself at 16. Laura Poitras, winner for the Snowden movie “Citizenfour,” preaching about the incredible importance of truth and transparency in government.

Common and John Legend (sorry, Lonnie Lynn and John Stevens, and how weird was that hearing their real names called?) with a blow-the-doors-off muscial performance, and then a powerful speech about racial inequality.
Julianne Moore on Alzheimers, Eddie Redmayne being so humble and grateful… the speeches were about the only thing memorable about this show. And that so many of them were about issues of the day (I almost forgot Patricia Arquette’s great shout-out for women’s equality) made them even better.

Otherwise … meh. Not a great show. Some more thoughts on what’s usually one of my favorite TV shows of the year:

— When Neil Patrick Harris was announced as host, you just knew the opening would be a lavish musical number, and it was. I thought it was great, and I’m thrilled that one of my biggest Hollywood crushes, Anna Kendrick (it’s OK, the wife loves her too) got to be a part of it. Really creative use of old movies. The rest of NPH’s grade? I’d give him a C. Some of his jokes scored (loved the Jason Bateman joke about child stars, and his appearing onstage practically naked at one point was very funny), other jokes fell really flat (the seat-filler interviews, and the running gag about his Oscar predictions being locked up got old really fast).

–“Boyhood” got screwed. I knew it would going in, and I’m still pissed. I haven’t seen “Birdman” yet, I’m sure it’s very good and all, but come on, “Boyhood” was a revolutionary, ground-breaking type of movie. You have to reward that, don’t you?

–Fashion thoughts, from the wife (mostly): Reese Witherspoon’s dress and hair were great, Jessica Chastain made a very poor choice with her un-form fitting dress, and Nicole Kidman looked too washed-out. Also, on the men’s side, visible swooning was heard from her when Idris Elba and Chris Pratt appeared on stage.

— The LEGO movie musical number, with Tegan and Sara and Questlove and handing out LEGO Oscar statues? Loved it. Very clever and funny.

–Actual conversation between the wife and I during the Steve Carell “Foxcatcher” clip:
Me: “I can’t believe the guy who played Produce Pete on “The Daily Show” is nominated for an Oscar.”
Wife: “I can’t believe Channing Tatum is in a scene with a person nominated for an Oscar.”
Me: “Well-played.”

–The John Travolta/Idina Menzel thing was laugh-out-loud funny. One of the few truly comedic highlights.

— So happy that “Citizenfour” won. Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald did outstanding work on the Edward Snowden revelations, truly important work that exposed the lies and deceit of our government (I wrote about Greenwald’s book on Snowden and his involvement after reading it last  year.)

— JK Simmons was the first big winner and his speech was overshadowed by the later great ones, but it was still sweet. Instead of thanking his agent and a million other people, the career background character actor thanked his wife, and his kids, and told everyone to call their parents. Simple and sweet, perfect.

— Finally, the Dead People Montage: Always a highlights. Was really surprised Robin Williams didn’t get “the hammer” and be the last person remembered, but Mike Nichols was a directing legend and he definitely deserved it.
And great to hear Jennifer Hudson’s pipes again, but whatever happened to her acting career?

**Finally today, I saw this last week and thought it was exceptionally clever. A Canadian company called 1One Productions filmed this spot starring Jesus Christ at his regular marketing meeting, where his “team” created a stunt that would guarantee his immortality.

I loved this. I’m sure some will consider it blasphemy, but I think it’s great.

Good News Friday: A couple married 81 years shares their secret. Wisconsin football shaves heads for pediatric cancer kids. And the 109-year-old man who knits sweaters for penguins

Still buzzing and the heart rate is just getting back to normal after that amazing Duke-Carolina game Wednesday night. Man, if that doesn’t make you love college basketball, nothing will. Also wanted to point you to a story I read Thursday that does the impossible: Makes you feel sympathy for Alex Rodriguez. The great J.R. Moehringer spent six months in A-Rod’s inner circle, and the result is this incredible story for ESPN The Magazine. I urge you to read it.

I’ve been married twice, for a combined total so far of five years. My parents were married for 21 years before divorcing, and my grandparents were both married for more than 50 years each, which blows my mind every time I think about it.

Fifty years? With the same person, every day? Sounds like a miracle. But Dale and Alice Rockey, of Missouri, have the longest marriage I’ve ever heard of, and the longest current one in the United States.

These two lovebirds have been together for 81 years. EIGHTY-ONE! Lee Cowen of “CBS Sunday Morning” had this beautiful short feature on the Rockey’s last week, and it made me smile numerous times, especially when Dale … well, just watch it, I don’t want to give it away. But I about teared up near the end…

Eighty-one years. Amazing.

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**Next up on Good News Friday,  I love stories like this, stories of athletes doing a simple thing to make kids happy. Nine members of the University of Wisconsin football team have, for the second year in a row, voluntarily shaved their heads to raise money and show support for pediatric cancer patients at American Family Children’s Hospital in the state.

The cancer patients also got a free pizza party and a tour of Camp Randall Stadium (look how cool that photo above is, how much fun is that kid having?)

Very cool. Good job, Badgers.

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**Finally today, loyal reader Sanford sent this to me last week, and I just think it’s pretty adorable.

A 109-year-old Australian man named Alfie Date has been knitting clothes for penguins on Phillip Island to help prevent them from swallowing oil while cleaning themselves (there was recently a big oil spill there). If these little penguins swallowed oil, they could die.

Alfie’s been knitting in his aged-care facility since he arrived, and he and hundreds of others are knitting jumpers to help save the penguins.

Morgan Freeman would be so proud.

Alfie is the oldest man in Australia, in case you were wondering.

 

I go to one last Rangers-Islanders game at the Coliseum, and it’s awesome. A Simon and Garfunkel-themed video to help you deal with snow. And it’s Duke-Carolina day, a glorious day

 

NassauColiseumWhen I was a boy growing up in Commack, N.Y., on Long Island, Nassau Coliseum was a huge deal.
It was “our” arena, where we went to see the circus, or the major concert you really wanted to see (I took in Paula Abdul, New Kids on the Block, and Billy Joel, among others, there), or the indoor soccer game, or basically, any big event.

It was an “event” to go to the Coliseum; you’d be excited all day, and it seemed huge to me, driving up Hempstead Turnpike and seeing this giant spaceship-looking structure that looked so out of place amid the strip-malls and banks and hardware stores.

You walked in, and you felt something special was going to happen. Never more special than when I went to a Rangers-Islanders hockey game. My Dad took me sometimes, friends took me other times, but it was always fantastic.

The fact that I rooted for the visiting team made it even better; most of the crowd rooted for the Isles back then; in the 1980s they were the biggest sports thing going in New York.
I’d cheer my heart out for the Rangers, endure the horrendous “1940” chants (the last time the Blueshirts had won the Cup, as we were always reminded), and have the time of my life, as the roar of the crowd rang in my ears for days.

Then … I grew up. I started to go to lots of other pro sports venues, including hundreds as a sportswriter. And I realized … the Coliseum was a dump. The hallways are incredibly cramped, the building is dark and dirty, it’s really hard to get to, transportation-wise, and it’s antiseptic-feeling.

Just about every other arena I went to seemed better than the Coliseum, and millions of others agreed. For more than a decade the Islanders owner, Charles Wang, tried to get a new Coliseum built, but for reasons way too complicated to get into here, he failed.

So finally, Wang made a deal to move the Islanders to the beautiful new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which is great for the team (free agents often cited the crappy Coliseum as a reason not to sign), great for people like me who live in NYC and love hockey, but not as great for LI fans who’ve stuck with the team for decades.

So even as I felt myself being glad the old barn was going to the graveyard, I watched a few Rangers-Isles games on TV this season and felt nostalgic. The crowds are back, they’re loud, and for all its faults, the Coliseum has some of the best sightlines of any hockey arena, anywhere.

I decided I needed to say goodbye to the old place, where so many childhood memories were forged. Monday night one of my oldest friends and the biggest Islander fan I know went with me to the penultimate Rangers-Islanders game at the Coliseum.

It was, in a word … un-freaking-believable. The game was nuts, a 6-5 thriller won by the Rangers. The crowd was as loud as any I’ve heard live, the dueling “Let’s Go Islanders,” and “Let’s Go Rangers” chants still echoing in my head 24 hours later.

We had great seats right behind the net, we saw two great comebacks, lots of highlight-reel goals, and it was a night I didn’t want to end.

The Coliseum is rocking on its way to the grave, and it makes me very happy, even though I hate the damn Islanders.

As my sneakers stuck to the floor on the way out, I smiled and looked around.

I really am going to miss the old barn.

**Next up, the whole East Coast has been struggling through a pretty awful winter, with snow and freezing temperatures.

Well, sometimes the only thing to help you deal with winter is to make a cool video set to a classic song.

That’s what some people in Winnipeg did last year (and believe me, those people know from winter).

My awesome mother-in-law sent me this and it cracked me up; hope it gives you some relief before you put your mittens on and go shovel some more. It’s called “The Grounds for Violence,” a play on “The Sounds of Silence.”

And if you’re reading this in a warm-weather climate… have some empathy for us, will ya?

**Finally today, it’s Duke-Carolina day, which is always cause for celebration in my life. It seems like it’s super-late this year, as they haven’t played yet and it’s February 18, but that just means the anticipation has built up even more than usual.

I say it every year in this space and I’ll go to my grave believing it: It’s the greatest rivalry in sports. You can have Yankees-Red Sox, Ohio State-Michigan, USC-UCLA, Packers-Bears, and Bruins-Canadiens. Give me Jeff Capel with a half-court heave to force double-OT, Jamison and Carter dunking all over my Blue Devils, Laettner and Montross going at it … it’s just the best. And yes, the above video gave me chills watching it, as it does every year.

Tonight should be extra-special as it’s first Duke-Carolina game since Dean died; I’m sure there’ll be a wonderful pre-game tribute to a man who helped make the rivalry so special.

Duke’s the better team on paper this year, but that never matters in this rivalry.
Duke. Carolina. Nothing better.

ESPN’s new movie about the Soviet hockey powerhouse is awesome. Gatorade turns 50 and re-releases famous ad. And the most creative and brilliant fan protest ever

Toward the end of the fantastic and illuminating new ESPN 30 for 30 movie “Of Miracles and Men,” a Soviet journalist covering the epic USA-U.S.S.R. 1980 Olympic hockey game was asked what kind of a story he wrote on the event.

“Nothing special,” he replied. “Just that they lost.”

Elaborating, he comes up with a perfect metaphor: If a young boys grows up dreaming of kissing Sophia Loren, then one day finally does it, he runs around telling everyone for the rest of his life that he kissed Sophia Loren. But does Sophia Loren remember kissing that boy? Of course not. It was no big deal.”

This is part of the genius of Jonathan Hock’s movie, which traces the rise of Soviet hockey from the 1940s until the classic 1980 “Miracle on Ice.” To Americans, that game will live forever as a wonderful underdog story. To Russians, it’s just an unfathomable loss that’s painful to speak out, even three decades later.

And that’s one of the many takeaways of the film: In interviewing all the key Russian players from that era (Slava Fetisov, Boris Mikhailov, Vladislav Tretiak, etc.) you can tell how much the loss still hurts. These guys trained 11 months a year, year after year, to become a robotic, unstoppable machine on ice, to never, ever lose. And for many years they didn’t lose, embarrassing everyone they played.

They were a machine, but they had zero fun, which is why watching the Americans play with such joy and freedom at Lake Placid was jarring to them.

The best parts of the movie come when stars like Tretiak (the goalie who was inexplicably pulled after one period in the Miracle on Ice game) talk about the final moments of the shocking Lake Placid loss, and when Mikhailov, the best and most heartfelt interview subject, reflects on what life was like when they got back to Moscow.

Fetisov, who later became a trailblazer by leaving the Soviet team and joining the NHL, is the emotional center of the film, literally going back to Lake Placid 30 years later to try to recapture memories of the loss.

It’s funny, there suddenly are two new movies from the Soviet hockey perspective of Lake Placid; a documentary called “Red Army” has just been released, too.

I haven’t seen that one, but “Of Miracles and Men” is well worth seeing, showing us that the Russian players were far from the “Evil Empire” we have in our popular imagination.

“Of Miracles and Men” will air again on ESPN2 tonight (Monday) at 11:30 p.m., and Saturday morning at 8. It’s well worth going out of your way to see.

Much like “The Americans” does, “Of Miracles and Men” has me sympathizing with Russia during the Cold War, not an easy task.

 

**Next up, I’ve never been a big Gatorade fan, but I am a fan, as you know, of awesome, iconic commercials that you remember decades later.

The “Be Like Mike” ad certainly fits the bill; for their 50th anniversary Gatorade has “digitally re-mastered” the spot that made Michael Jordan even more famous than he already was.

It’s OK, you’re now going to be humming “Sometimes I dream …” for the rest of the day like I am.

polishcoffins.soccer

**Finally today, this story is a couple weeks old but it’s so obscure that I feel confident you will not have seen it. It’s possibly the greatest and most clever fan protest I’ve ever seen. (I first heard about it on NPR’s “Only a Game.”)

A first-division Polish soccer team named Zawisza Bydgoszcz is having a rough season; they’re in last place and at one stretch lost 10 consecutive matches.

Their fans were pissed, but they didn’t just put bags over their heads or write angry letters to the local newspaper.

No, they did something so much better: After a recent loss they broke into the team’s home stadium and left 15 wooden coffins on the field. Each coffin featured the intials of one of the team’s players (drawn, of course, onto genitals stenciled into the wood) and the team’s owner.

I mean … American fans would never be this awesome. Bravo, Polish fans, bravo.

Good News Friday: A “Lost Boy of Sudan” pays America back with love. An autistic runner from Long Island amazes. And a grandson invents a device to help Alzheimers patients

It’s freezing outside and there’s more snow coming,  and it’s been a truly shitty week for those of us who love old-school, kick-ass news reporting and writing, as CBS legend Bob Simon, and NYT media writer/author David Carr, died within 48 hours of each other. Carr, especially, had an impact on me: The way he wrote was truly unique. (Check out this great clip of Carr slapping down editors at VICE magazine who insult the New York Times.)

So, yeah, I’m ready for some good news.

Like this story that just about made me cry. Peter Kuch is a 36-year-old sergeant in the U.S. Army stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C. By all accounts he’s a fantastic soldier, but that’s not what makes his story remarkable.

Kuch was one of the thousands of “Lost Boys of Sudan”, who 15 years ago, in the midst of an awful war in that country, was taken safely to a refugee camp and then “re-settled” in America.

This short piece from the always-great Steve Hartman on “CBS Sunday Morning” is 150 seconds of pure joy and gratefulness. Watch and see how much this country can mean to one man, and how a reunion with one special person came about.

So great.

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**Next up, a story near and dear to my heart since this wonderful young man is from Northport, N.Y., about 5 miles fro my Long Island hometown of Commack.

Mikey Brannigan is one of the top high school middle distance runners in America, and is the defending national champion in the outdoor 2-mile, (8:53.59).
He’s remarkable for more than just that, though. At 18 months old Mikey was diagnosed with autism, and doctors told his parents he could end up in a group home.

At age 7 he found running, and the rest is told in this beautiful story from Ali Fenwick of Sports Illustrated, after the magazine named Brannigan their athlete of the month.

Truly limitless, what human beings who find their passion can achieve.

**Finally today, as someone who has personal experience watching a grandparent suffer with Alzheimer’s, this story gave me a smile.

It was on Upworthy.com recently, and it’s about a 15-year-old boy named Kenneth Shinozuka, whose grandfather, Deming, was an Alzheimer’s patient who had the tendency to wander off and away from his caregiver without warning, and into potentially dangerous situations.

So Kenneth invented a sensor that attaches to a patient’s sock and alerts caregivers via a wireless signal when the patient has wandered off.

Brilliant. And possibly life-saving. You go, Kenneth.

Jon Stewart is leaving “The Daily Show,” a huge loss but it’s for the best. John Oliver’s back, and hilarious again. And the amazing Venezuela tourist ad featuring an imprisoned American

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Just about everyone on television stays too long at the party.  Popular sitcoms that were once fabulous go on years past their expiration date (I’m looking at you, “Mad About You” and “Seinfeld,”) broadcasters hang around until they’re a parody of themselves (I’m looking at you, Chris Berman and Dan Rather), and basically the majority of people on TV have to be dragged kicking and screaming away from the red light.

Which is why I was at first sad, but then happy to hear Tuesday night that the great Jon Stewart, who for 15 years has been the funniest, most incisive commentator on television, announced he’d be leaving “The Daily Show” sometime in 2015.

There has been no more consistent source of humor in the 21st century than Stewart. Whether he’s mocking politicians, other celebrities, or most hilariously, CNN and Fox News, he’s always been brilliantly clever, cutting-edge funny, and just plain joyous to watch.I went back through my blog archives tonight to find the quintessential Stewart clip I’ve shared on here the last 5 1/2 years, and each time I watched a few seconds of one I remembered how great it was, and truly, I could’ve spent hours watching his old bits.

I picked the one I’m linking here because it’s one near and dear to my heart (about education), and because it illustrates just how smart and funny Stewart and his team are. But honestly, there have been hundreds of brilliant clips over the years.

“The Daily Show” has been about more than just laughs; it’s had a legitimate impact on our culture.

It was “The Daily Show” that kept Congress’ feet to the fire on the issue of giving 9/11 responders compensation for their illnesses, and Stewart’s rage against CNBC, Jim Cramer and the yahoos who helped cause the economic meltdown of 2008 educated millions of Americans who didn’t understand the complex financial jargon.

It has, of course, also given us Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carell, and a million laughs. And it’s still going strong; his stuff on Ferguson last summer was as good as anyone else covered the tragedy.

Which is why I’m glad Stewart is leaving now, while he’s still got his fastball. He can do so many other things with his career, and he’s smart enough to leave before he gets stale.

I’ll certainly watch whatever he does next.

**Speaking of John Oliver, the brilliant HBO show he stars in “Last Week Tonight” is back from a three-month break, and he kicked some serious butt in the premiere Sunday night.

His bit on the scam of Big Pharma being in bed with doctors was great, but I loved this salute to the soon-to-be-toe-tagged Radio Shack even better.

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**And finally, this story is fantastic in oh so many ways. The tourism department for the government of Venezuela has been running a new ad campaign to boost the nation’s morale. One of the ads they’ve run features a Caucasian man hugging someone lovingly, with a big smile on his face.

The tagline reads: “We love Venezuela … for receiving foreigners like one of our own.”

Except there’s just one problem. The photo they used is of American reporter Jim Wyss, who in the photo has just been released after being wrongfully detained for two days in a Venezuelan prison.

Yes, that’s right folks: To highlight how friendly Venezuela is to foreigners, they showed us a man who they illegally threw in jail!

Too damn funny. I can’t wait until Russia’s tourism ad with Edward Snowden.