Good News Friday: Transgender swimmer given choice of men’s or women’s team at Harvard. Kids find wallets and do the right thing. And a terrific Duracell July 4th ad

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And a Happy Fourth of July holiday weekend to you and yours; hope you spend the next three days barbecuing, laying in the sun, and watching the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team win the World Cup Sunday night againast Japan (was really hoping they’d play England, because, you know, beating our former rulers on Indepedence Day weekend would’ve been fairly awesome. Take that, Lord Cornwallis!)

Just please, whatever you do, do not watch the disgusting Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on TV. I cannot understand how “competitive eating” is a thing; I find it repulsive.

Anyway, lots of good stuff to choose from when looking for uplifting material this week. First up, the Red Cross in Japan decided to undertake a very cool experiment recently: They wanted to see what little kids would do when, standing in a group at a bus or train station, an adult dropped a wallet in front of them without realizing it.

Watch what happens as each kid looks around, thinks about what to do, then … Just watch. It’s very sweet and life-affirming. Kids, generally, want to do the right thing.
Very cool little commercial.

**Next up, more proof that the world is changing, and that old, tired, disgusting prejudices are slowly fading away. This is a small story, but kind of a big story, I think.

A transgender high school swimmer named Schuyler Bailar, from Virginia, was accepted to Harvard and was recruited to be on the swim team.

The women’s swim team; Schuyler swam on girls teams throughout childhood and even was a former teammate of Olympian Katie Ledecky.

But Schuyler has previously identified as a male and after graduating high school, he took a “gap year” and completed his transition, medically, to become a male.

“Initially the decision was, “Do I swim, or do I quit and transition?” ‘Bailar said. ‘I really didn’t want to give up swimming, but I also didn’t know how much longer I could do the living as a girl thing.’

After talking it over amongst themselves, and with the Harvard administration, swim coaches Stephanie Morawski and Kevin Tyrrell agreed that Schulyer would be accepted onto the men’s team.

Tyrrell talked to his men’s swim team about it, to gauge their feelings, and “within 15 seconds, the guys all said ‘yeah, let’s do it.'”

So this fall, Schuyler Bailar will become the first transgender swimmer in NCAA history.

One brick at a time, the walls are coming down, and people are free to be who they want to be.

**And finally today, I thought this was a great tear-jerking ad to help celebrate July 4. It’s a new Duracell commercial about a father, a daughter, and a changing relationship.

Yeah, I almost cried, sue me…

 

The new Brian Wilson biopic is tremendous. Kimmel asks kids about gay marriage, hilariously. And Chris Christie (remember him?) savaged by one who knows him well

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There’s a moment toward the middle of the new movie about Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s life when Wilson, played by John Cusack, is begging his new girlfriend Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) to leave his house before “the people” who are now controlling his life get back and find out what’s going on.

“Please go, but don’t leave me,” Wilson pleads. “Please go, but don’t leave me,” he says again, and in his face is one of the most nakedly honest, frightened looks I’ve ever seen on a human. This man, at this point in his life, is desperate for companionship but also desperate not to get caught doing something wrong.

It’s a really powerful scene, and “Love & Mercy” is a really powerful movie. I saw it last weekend after hearing mixed reviews of it, with some people thinking the idea of having Wilson played by two actors (Paul Dano as young, high-flying 1960s tortured genius Brian, and Cusack as 1980s, dazed and confused Brian) was too strange.

And I have to admit, the constant cutting back and forth between the 1960s and Dano, and the 1980s and Cusack, was a little hard to get used to at first. Every time they’d switch to the other Brian, I’d be like “Nooo, stay with that one, I really want to see where this is going” before getting sucked into the next scene and being mad when it was cut away from.

But after a bit you get used to it, and the movie does an outstanding job showing just how innovative Wilson was, with his “Pet Sounds” album and creative struggles with Beach Boy Mike Love, and how difficult life was for him inside his own head.

The two leads are both terrific, and this is the best I’ve seen Elizabeth Banks be; her Melinda is strong and tender. Paul Giamatti is as always fabulous, though I wanted to see much more of his Dr. Eugene Landy character developed; how did he get such a hold on Wilson in the 1980s?

Really, really strong movie. 3 1/2 stars from me. Even if you don’t love the Beach Boys music (and they’re pretty hard to hate), it’s a terrific story about an American icon.

**Next up, Jimmy Kimmel did a really funny skit Monday night, wandering into the streets to find children and then asking them questions about gay marriage, in light of last week’s huge Supreme Court announcement.

All the kids are great, but the girl at 1:30 and the last boy are my favorites, especially his answer on why people shouldn’t get married.

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**Finally, remember Chris Christie? Governor of New Jersey, bit of a weight problem, huge problem of being a bully? Guy who was kind of universally declared by the political media in 2014 as the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016?

Yeah, that guy. Hasn’t been much talk about him at all in recent months, as one scandal after another has engulfed Christie, while he continues to put his nasty, aggressive personality on display as much as possible.

Anyway, despite the same writers who adored him and pumped him up now saying he’s got very little chance (and this time they’re right, Christie’s way too abrasive and has pissed off way too many constituencies to be President, plus he’s much too moderate to survive the GOP “God, Guns, and every pregnancy must result in a baby” primaries), Christie declared on Tuesday that he’s running for President, bringing the total number of Republican candidates to, I believe, 432 (my math may be off.)

Perfectly timed to Christie’s announcement is this fantastic, biting column from an NJ.com writer Tom Moran, who’s been covering Christie for 14 years.

Moran pulls no punches, but instead of just a random hit job, he uses specific examples of Christie, lying through his teeth and showing no shame doing it.

Highly recommend this. Man, these GOP debates are going to be “get your popcorn” TV.

An incredible (hopefully) final victory for marriage equality. Obama and Marc Maron have a fantastic interview. And a scary but effective way to teach infants to survive in the pool

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Last week was an exceptional week for news, an extraordinary week. So much happened you almost don’t know where to start.
The word I kept thinking about this weekend, digesting all that occurred, was progress. Progress is a funny thing; for so many it comes too slow, for others it comes at whiplash-inducing speed.

With two major stories last week, I felt like “progress” was a tie-in. With the Confederate flag issue, as politicians and corporations  practically tripped over their “Dukes of Hazzard” DVDs trying to denounce and diminish the importance of that symbol (seriously, I never thought I’d ever have anything nice to say about Walmart, but bravo to them on this), it dawned on me that, yes, this was a good thing that was finally happening, but also: The Civil War ended 150 years ago! With a clear winner and a clear loser! And yet the symbol of that disgraceful practice of the South and the slavery it allowed remained relevant, 150 years later.

That we’re even having a discussion about such a symbol of racism and hatred, so far after it should’ve been torn down and destroyed atop every government building atop which it flew, is kind of mind-boggling. What took so long?

But then, there was the other story of progress, the one where marriage equality was finally given the stamp of approval from the highest court in the land, and in all 50 states now any two men or two women can get hitched, forever.

The progress on this issue, in the scope of history, has been astonishingly fast. As the great Andrew Sullivan, a pioneer on this civil rights front, points out in this beautiful essay, 25 and 30 years ago he was laughed at by both sides about gay marriage; it would never happen, it’s ridiculous to even try, etc.

And yet two decades later, it’s settled law. The sea change is complete; there’s really no more argument, except, apparently, from the 2016 GOP presidential candidates, who couldn’t express their outrage loudly enough (What? The Supreme Court gets to make decisions like this? Who gives them the right? Oh yeah, the Constitution, that document y’all are always slavishly quoting.)

Progress. So slow, and yet so fast.

And now, a few words from the brilliant mind of Stephen Colbert:

**Next up today, I finally got a chance late last week to listen to this remarkably candid and fun interview President Obama did with popular comedian/podcast host Marc Maron. If you’ve never heard a Maron podcast, they’re fantastic; he does them in his garage, and he gets celebrities (usually other comedians) to open their souls and pour out some deep, personal stuff.

And he gets that from Obama here. The talk about his wandering college years in California, how Michelle’s father’s MS affected his thinking, and of course, his thoughts on racism in America were fascinating. After the first few minutes, when Maron overcomes his “Holy crap, the President of the United States is in my garage!” excitement, the real conversation begins, and it’s riveting.

I highly, highly recommend listening to his. The YouTube audio-only link is here, or you can download the episode here.

**And finally today, this is a video and story near and dear to my heart these days: As I’ll probably write in a post sometime soon, my baby son and I have been taking swim lessons, and they’re going awesomely. The program we’re in, though, is nothing like this.

This is called the Infant Swimming Resource, and it basically teaches babies aquatic survival skills.

This is jarring and a little tough to watch if you’ve had a baby recently, but it is apparently very, very successful. It’s also amazing.

 

 

Good News Friday: Mo’Ne Davis and her Little League team tour the civil rights South. A man turns a banana yellow again using a hairdryer. And the device that will let blind people “see” with their tongues

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You probably remember the story from last summer, one that was hopeful and wonderful, about Philadelphia youth baseball star Mo’Ne Davis, the first female pitcher to throw in the Little League World Series, and toss a shutout, to boot.

The precocious 13-year-old was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, all the morning talk shows, and was heralded a wonderful example of girls succeeding in sports.

Usually, these feel-good stories fade after awhile; they rarely get a second act. But I was so impressed with stories I’ve been reading lately about Davis and her Little League team, the Anderson Monarchs, and what they’re embarking on this summer.

Thanks to a wonderful, history-minded coach, Steve Bandura, and corporate sponsors like Easton and Major League Baseball, the Monarchs are touring many of the famous civil rights landmarks of the South. They’re playing exhibition games and soaking up history in Montgomery and Selma; Birmingham and Little Rock. They’ll visit the site of the church were four little girls were blown up in a fit of incomprehensible cruelty, and Little Rock Central High, the scene of a major integration battle.

In all, it’s a 23-day, 21-city barnstorming tour aboard a 1947 bus.

Bandera, who seems like an incredible student of history, is more than just a coach to these kids; he’s a teacher, and a role model.

I want to send the message that young people can effect change and need to effect change, especially with the state of our nation after all of the recent racial incidents,” Bandura told Frank Bruni of the New York Times.

Bandura is an old-school coach, and the parents of the Monarchs are in awe of him, how he gets the players to put away cell phones and electronics while on road trips.

“You’ve got to see the world with your own eyes,” Davis said. This summer, she and her teammates are.

Great trip, and a great story here; click it and you’ll feel better about the future, I promise.

**Next up, this is pretty insane: A man takes a rotten, brown banana, puts it in some rice in a plastic bag for an hour, then takes a simple hairdryer and voila!, the banana is ready to eat again.

I don’t even like bananas, and I’m kind of blown away.

Get the details here, but wow.

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**Finally today, I’m constantly amazed by science. Next week, in my doctor’s continuing quest to figure out what’s wrong with my G.I. tract (I’m losing a fairly-alarming amount of weight and three tests have so far come up empty), he’s having me swallow a capsule that contains a camera, that will take pictures of my small intestine and transmit it to a camera belt I’ll be wearing. I wear this thing for eight hours, then take off the belt, give it to the doctor, and he looks at it and tells me what’s wrong with me.

Seriously, a camera inside a pill; this is a thing.

But in a development much more interesting to the rest of you, the great folks at MentalFloss.com bring us this story: The FDA just approved a device that could allow blind people to see.

From the story : “The BrainPort V100 includes a pair of sunglasses equipped with a video camera with a small electrode pad attached by a cord and an iPhone-sized control pad.

The video camera converts visual imagery to electrical signals that the user feels on their tongue. The stimulation varies based on the color of things on the low-resolution grayscale image from the video. White pixels become a strong stimulation, gray pixels medium stimulation, and black pixels no stimulation.

The user holds the device against his or her tongue, translating the lines and shapes traced by its 400 electrodes into images in the brain, almost like an electric version of Braille. (See it at work in this video from the BBC, featuring a blind rock climber using the device.)”

Amazing.

 

“The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is weird, and hilarious. The Norway women’s soccer team is also hilarious. And words of wisdom from a fantastic 95-year-old woman

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I realize I’m a month or two late on declaring this, but here goes:

“The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is the strangest, funniest and most surprising TV show I’ve seen in a long time.

Seriously, the Netflix comedy created by Tina Fey is all kinds of wonderful. My wife and I didn’t think we’d like it because, though we adore Tina Fey, we didn’t much care for “30 Rock” and I read that “Kimmy Schmidt” had the same comic sensibility.

But we love, love, love Kimmy Schmidt. We’re not exactly binge-watching, because we have a 9-month old and who the heck has time for that, but each week we’re watching 1-2 episodes and have only two left in the sparkling first season.

If you’ve never seen the show and have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the premise: Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) was one of four Indiana girls taken hostage by a crazy religious nut, and kept underground for 15 years. In the pilot episode the women are rescued and Kimmy decides to move to New York, to start experiencing life.

She is, of course, hilariously unaware and unprepared for life in 2015. Her world quickly becomes populated with bizarre characters like Titus (above), her gay actor roommate, Lillian (the always-fabulous Carol Kane), and Mrs. Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), a completely out-of-touch wealthy trophy wife who ends up being Kimmy’s boss when Kimmy gets hired as her nanny.

The one-liners on this show come so fast and furious, and are often so obscure, we find ourselves hitting pause all the time while we stop laughing. (My favorite one-liner so far comes when Kimmy is trying to tell her new Vietnamese pal about “Friends.” He says “Oh, in my country we call that show “Six White Complainers.”

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is streaming on Netflix, and is probably not for all tastes. But if you like bizarre characters and really sharp writing, check it out.

 

**Next up, I don’t know if you’re watching the Women’s World Cup or not, but the American team is doing quite well so far, undefeated and heading into the quarterfinals on Friday.

Norway, a team I wouldn’t expect you to care about, reached the Round of 16 before being knocked out Monday. But that result was far, far overshadowed by this hilarious and brilliant satirical video the team put out before the tournament, poking fun at themselves in a way few pro teams every would. The title: “We suck at football.”

I laughed really hard throughout, but especially at the “tools” the goalie uses near the end to help her do her job.

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**Finally today, you don’t get to read many interviews with 95-year-old women. Partly it’s because we treat old people pretty shabbily in this country, ignoring their opinions and decades of life experience because we stupidly think “they’re too old, what do they know.”

But my friend Catherine Pearlman’s grandma Norma Shapiro just gave a dynamite interview to her grandson-in-law, my buddy Jeff Pearlman. Norma has led a fascinating life; she was basically “forced” into a marriage at 17, has had three husbands, several careers, suffered the death of one of her children, and is still incredibly active.

This article blew me away, because Norma Shapiro is incredibly wise, funny and in pretty great shape for a woman five years shy of a century (she exercises a few times per week, plays bridge almost every day, etc.)

A couple of her pearls of wisdom are below, but I really recommend reading the whole thing here. I guarantee you’ll feel better after reading it:

On beauty: I have to tell you—I was trained through life that I wasn’t beautiful. In the twilight of my life, almost on a daily basis, and I’m not exaggerating, almost daily somebody will say to me, “You’re very beautiful” or “You’re so pretty.” Daily. Either at a bridge club, on the bus. It doesn’t matter where I go. I hear it every day.

On if life was better “back in the old days:” I think it was easier living. Look, there are always hard times. I lived through the war with rationing—gas rationing, food rationing. But now young people are living through terrorism. I think these are hard times. I don’t know how young people feel about it, but I feel it’s tough now.

On technology ruining communication: I think the art of conversation is lost. I think people are very much attuned to their iPhones and so forth and texting. Because there’s so much texting people hardly call and talk on the phone. And I think the art of conversation, the art of being in contact with someone on a real-life basis instead of all these instruments, I think that’s definitely lost. I think the art of handwriting, penmanship is lost completely. I think the art of letter writing is a terrible loss because those things really can be precious in our lifetime. 

On why she goes to bed at midnight or later:Because I have so much to do.”

My first Father’s Day as a dad was fantastic. “Inside Out” is as wonderful as everyone says. And Jon Stewart on Charleston, so good

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This year was the first time ever that I received gifts on Father’s Day.

So that was cool. But of course this Father’s Day was so much more than getting cool stuff from my family (I scored a much-desired “Los Pollos Hermanos” shirt from my sister and brother-in-law, and some great matching shirts/onesies combos from my wife for me and our son, including the totally awesome “Control-C” shirt for me and “Control-V” onesie for him (if you don’t get it, think about the keyboard shortcuts you use regularly.)

Ever since my son was born last September, there have been different milestones that have crept up on me. Much more meaningful than just holidays or “month birthdays” for him, they’ve usually been stuff like “first time on a subway with him” or “first time alone in the swimming pool,” kind of stuff. Holidays are great, of course, and his first Thanksgiving and Passover and all that were memorable.

But Sunday was really special for me, maybe the last big milestone of his first year until the actual birthday. My whole life I’ve been surrounded by wonderful fathers and role models, from my own, to my stepfather, my father-in-law, and all the other positive male role models I’ve had in my life.

I’m talking about childhood friends who’ve grown up to be fantastic dads, college buddies who are all grown up and have families of their own; great bosses and colleagues I’ve met in the journalism world who along the way showed me with their example how great fatherhood can be.

After 39 years, I’m finally getting my chance to see if I can live up to all the wonderful Dads I’ve seen all these years. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s also exhilarating.

Sunday, surrounded by family, I really felt a part of the “Dad club.” And it’s the best club you could ever be in. I’m so lucky and blessed.

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**OK, so so here’s my review of Pixar’s new “Inside Out:”
Amazing. Sensational. Moving. Magical. As good as all the reviews say it is.

The wife and I saw it Saturday night, and as high as my expectations for the flick were given the build-up and positive chatter, the movie lived up to it.

The writing was, as usual with Pixar, beautiful, filled with emotion, humor and so much heart. The casting was great, with Amy Poehler and Lewis Black particularly great, though I fear the best performance of the entire movie isn’t getting talked about much; Richard Kind as Bing Bong was unbelievably good; Kind is one of those fabulous character actors who you’ve seen more than you think (to me he’ll always be Fran’s husband Mark on “Mad About You”) and this may be the best performance of his life.

The concept of the movie (five emotions that live inside of an 11-year-old girl’s head take us on a tour of her life as she moves from Minnesota to San Francisco) is brilliant, and “Inside/Out” does what all great Pixar movies do: makes you laugh, cry and feel things.

To me it’s right up there with “Up,” “Finding Nemo,” and the “Toy Story” trilogy as the best work Pixar’s ever done. Go see it.

**Finally, so much good stuff has been written and said about the Charleston massacre from last week, about the racism still so very much alive in America, and about South Carolina’s disgusting refusal to take down the Confederate flag.

But this Jon Stewart opening from “The Daily Show” Thursday night… man, so so good. He’ll be sorely missed when he’s gone in a few weeks.

Good News Friday: A couple about to be married sees how they’ll look in the future. And they’re thrilled. A beautiful Father’s Day commercial from Toyota. A 6-year-old boy loses a teddy bear, but it turns out OK.

Happy Friday to all, and a very special Happy Father’s Day to all my fellow Dads out there. It’s a special Father’s Day for me, of course, as it’s my first-ever one as a Daddy myself; really looking forward to it.

Our first story today is a pretty moving video and a terrific idea from a YouTube-backed group called Field Day, which brings together filmmakers with unique vision and turns them loose to make videos.

This video is called “100 Years of Beauty,” and I think it’s fabulous. The concept is this: A real-life couple named Kristie and Tavis who’re about to get married and who appear to be in their 20’s are shown, thanks to makeup and costumes, what they’ll look like to each other over the next 70 years or so. The man’s reaction to seeing her each ftime is sweet and special, and she has some great comments about his reaction as well.

Really cool concept, and judging by their reactions, I think these two have a long, happy life together ahead of them.

**Next up, Toyota of Japan has put out a pretty sweet Father’s Day commercial. It’s a little more than three minutes long, and the first half shows a father and daughter as she grows up, from the father’s point of view. It’s touching and sweet.

Then we see everything from the daughter’s perspective, and it’s even sweeter.  What a great ad.

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Finally today, proof that not everything that gets lost at airports is lost forever.

Meet Owen, a 6-year-old boy who recently flew from Tampa to Texas. Before the flight the tyke lost his stuffed tiger, named Hobbes, who was made for him by a clearly-loving aunt in Texas, his mom, Amanda Lake, told NPR.

Well not only was Hobbes found and returned to Owen, but the boy got to see all the fun Hobbes had while at the airport. The staff at Tampa International took the time to take photos of the tiger all around the site, and sent them to Owen as well when Hobbes was returned.

Hobbes had some gelato, played some Jenga, and did other fun stuff. So cool that the airport employees did this for a little boy they’ll never meet…

When Owen returned from Texas, he was reunited with Hobbes and given a bound book of photographs that showed what his tiger had been up to.

It was all the brainchild of Airport Operations Center Manager Tony D’Aiuto, who says he used a coupon to make the photo book at a drugstore. The story is drawing wide attention — after all, it’s rather rare to see a heartwarming story emerge from an airport, particularly at the start of the summer travel season.

“It was very, very sweet,” Lake said in a news release from the airport. “We already told him over and over that Hobbes was on an adventure so it was nice to get back and show him that Hobbes really had been on an adventure.”

We are lucky to live in the age of LeBron. A really funny JetBlue ad catches New Yorkers by surprise. And the fascinating story of the teen runner who collapses after every race

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My whole life until now, I thought Michael Jordan was the one basketball player I’d be telling my grandchildren about, and have them listen at my knee, wide-eyed, as I recall wat it was really like to see him play.

The way my generation heard stories about Oscar Robertson, or Jerry West. MJ would be the standard, the legend all others are judged against, and I feel lucky that his career happened during my childhood/early adulthood.

But as it turns out, the grandkids will be hearing about someone else, too. About a 6-foot-8, 260 pound kid who went from high school to the NBA, and did things no one had ever done before on a basketball court.

And 12 years into his career, he’s still doing things no one has ever seen. LeBron James is not simply the best player in the world; he has become, in my mind and many other sportswriters I’ve read the last few weeks, equal to Michael Jordan.

Yes, I said it. LeBron is as good as MJ ever was. And there is no way in Hades Jordan gets to the NBA Finals this year with the cast LeBron is playing with.

With his two all-star teammates sidelined, and forced to play with the hoops equivalent of four guys he found hanging out at the YMCA, LeBron willed his team to the NBA Finals, and kept them in a series they had no business being in after Kyrie Irving went down. Golden State was the far superior team, and are a worthy NBA champion, and I’m happy for Steph Curry and his whole squad, and for Warriors fans, who are awesome.

But even after a season-ending loss, I’m thinking about LeBron.

The last two weeks, he has put on one of the greatest spectacles I’ve ever seen in sports. One man against five, basically, and the one kept his team in every single game. Jump shots, drives, 3-pointers, assists,

His NBA Finals averages of 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists heading into Tuesday night’s Game 6 are extraordinary; words can’t describe how dominant he’s been. He’s played 228 of a possible 250 minutes. And in those 22 minutes he hasn’t been on the floor, Cleveland has been outscored by 22 points — one point per minute.

I could go on and on. But suffice to say, we’re watching a one-of-a-kind athlete in his prime, and, notwithstanding a few months of raging ego when he first went to play for Miami in 2011, a really good guy on and off the court, one who’s easy to root for.

I know Cleveland came up short, and LeBron James couldn’t do it all himself.

But these last two weeks have been an absolute joy to watch. It never gets boring watching pure excellence.

**Next up today, we New Yorkers are pretty immune to surprises on the street. I mean, the wide as the Grand Canyon spectrum of human behavior on display every day right in front of us has kinda innoculated us from truly being shocked, I think.

But this JetBlue experiment sure seemed to shake up people, in a pretty funny way. The airline decided to put a hologram-looking talking computer up in a glass window on 6th Avenue recently, and it asked pedestrians pretty simple questions about their flying preferences.

Then the machine started talking back. And making fun of their wardrobe. Turns out it was a real person inside the whole time…

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**Finally today, this is one of the strangest stories you’ll see. A high school track athlete from Buffalo named Sam Peterman literally collapses after every race she competes in.

Peterman, who’s 15, suffers from something called neurocardiogenic syncope, or NCS, a condition that causes her to faint nearly every time she finishes a race. Her father, Dale Peterman has almost always been there to catch her.

“It’s the hardest thing,” he said of waiting for Sam at the finish line. “Because you never know.”

Despite Peterman’s condition, she’s been cleared to run by doctors. But can you imagine what that’s like, knowing you’re going to pass out after every race, but loving to run anyway? That takes dedication and a love of a sport I’m not sure many people would have.

Fascinating story by Rob Harms in the New York Times.

A fabulous video on if we treated the arts like sports. A Michigan law disgustingly discriminates against gay adoption. And a father turns funny kids sayings into art

Thoughts on a Monday morning while pondering why God hates Cleveland, how if Kyrie Irving were healthy the Cavs would’ve been planning a parade in Ohio right now, and knowing damn well that no matter who wins this NBA Finals series, LeBron should be Finals MVP…

It’s obvious to millions of people in this country, even to sports diehards like me, that we put way too much emphasis on athletics in America.

And that of course extends to the media, which covers people like Alex Rodriguez, LeBron James and Tom Brady as if they were the most important humans who ever walked the face of the Earth (“what, they can hit a ball far over a fence or throw it 50 yards? Of course they should be treated like kings!”)

However, since it’s not like sports are suddenly going to be de-emphasized, in place of say, the arts, it’s up to comedians like Owen Weber to produce brilliant parodies like this (above), sent to me by my smart and funny friend Will. It’s a “Sportscenter”-like take on how shows about the arts would look if they were given the same God-like status in our culture as sports.

My favorite part? “The stage-presence-enhancing drugs.” Brilliant.

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**Next up, it’s fairly depressing for liberals like me to look around at the enormous majority of Republicans running statehouses and state legislatures these days, and the draconian laws they’re passing.

Truly, I could write a post a day, seven days a week, for months just on the anti-choice, discriminatory bills against gays, minorities, and any other group that isn’t a while male that gets passed, usually under the radar. Sure, the GOP-led Congress is doing nothing, but truly insidious laws are being passed in places like Florida, Texas and Oklahoma.

Today, though, I want to focus on Michigan, and a remarkably shameful piece of legislation just passed.

From the Detroit Free Press: “On Wednesday, Republican majorities in both chambers approved a bill that would allow faith-based adoption agencies — including those who take taxpayer dollars to place children who are in the state’s custody — to discriminate in the practice of their work. They can deny services to families that violate the agency’s religious beliefs, including unmarried couples, same-sex couples and those who hold different religious beliefs.

The legislation is a craven attempt to cloak discrimination in faith, and it leaves the best interests of the 13,000 children in the state’s care — entirely out of the equation.”

So once again, just like in Indiana last spring, the Michigan legislature has legalized discrimination, telling anyone, like an adoption agency, that they don’t have to let gay couples adopt.

This is disgusting, and as has been discussed before, oh so stupid; committed gay couples are just as likely, if not more likely (thanks to the fact that it’s infinitely more difficult for them to adopt) to be good parents for those kids who need homes.

I really think that, 25 years from now, this idiotic thinking is going to look so bizarre to people, that simply because of a couple’s sexual preference, they weren’t allowed to be parents.

And hiding behind “religious reasons” is just oh so cowardly.

Batmanpooping.scarymommy

**Finally today, my friend Amanda pointed me to this pretty hilarious post on the ScaryMommy.com blog, highlighting the work of Martin Bruckner. He’s a Dad who runs a Tumblr called “Spaghetti Toes” (the name comes from overhearing his wife say to his daughter, “Please don’t put spaghetti between your toes” at the dinner table,” something I’m sure I’ll say at some point in the next year or two to our son), and what he does is take utterances by parents to little kids, or vice versa, and makes art out of them.

The one above might be my favorite, but I love this one too:

Scarymommy.tiredandoutofgasCheck out more at Bruckner’s Etsy.com site here.

 

A 96-year-old woman wows “America’s Got Talent.” 2 Broadway casts give an impromptu concert at LaGuardia Airport. And a dog saves his blind owner

Happy Friday to all, summer weather has hit New York and my son is climbing onto everything he can get his hands on in our apartment (yep, the boy is 9 months old and starting to walk, yet still has no teeth. It’ll be kind of embarrassing when he gums his food on dates).

So many stories I wanted to cram into Good News Friday this week; one I don’t have time for but really wanted to share was Sports Illustrated writer Peter King’s annual compendium of the best commencement speeches given this season; this year he’s got excerpts from speeches by Garry Kasparov, Joyce Carol Oates, Ed Helms, and Tim Cook, among others. There’s some really fantastic stuff in there.

OK, first up in Good News Friday is the wonderful Tao Porchon-Lynch, a 96-year-old ballroom dancing whiz from New York who appeared on “America’s Got Talent” this week, and was awesome. Not only because she had a 26-year-old partner (I already told the wife that if I get to 96, I’m allowed to dance with 26-year-olds, and she agreed.)

Check her out in the clip above; the dancing starts around the 2:30 mark… Amazing. God bless her.

**Next up today, as someone who has spent countless hours of my life delayed by flights either arriving at or departing America’s worst airport by far, LaGuardia Airport in NYC, I find this story fabulous and wish I was there to see it.

During a recent six-hour flight delay from New York to Orlando, some of the stranded passengers were castmembers of the traveling shows “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” So instead of bitching and moaning about their plight, they put on an impromptu concert for their fellow humans.

How great is this?

guidedog.Hero

**And finally today, this story has gone viral and deservedly so. A very loyal and brave guide dog named Figo threw himself into the path of an oncoming bus last week, to protect his blind owner from serious injury.

Audrey Stone and her guide dog Figo were walking in Brewster, N.Y. on when Figo spotted a school bus heading straight towards them.

Figo, a golden retriever, sprang into action and threw himself in harm’s way, sparing Stone the full impact. Stone, 62, suffered a fractured right elbow, three broken ribs, a fractured ankle and a cut to her head in the accident, said Del Gardo. The dog’s leg was cut down to the bone, said Paul Schwartz, who manages the Xtra Mart gas station at the intersection and ran to the scene to help.

But Figo is expected to make a full recovery. What an amazing dog.