I didn’t watch the State of the Union, I hope you didn’t either. A weird and wonderful short NYT documentary. And so long, Chief Wahoo, and good riddance.

You would think the sheer shock of it would fade by now. But more than a year after he was sworn in, I still can’t believe Donald Trump is the actual President of these actual United States.

It’s not just the idiotic things he says, like this quote on global warming from a recent interview with Piers Morgan: “There is a cooling and there’s a heating—I mean, look, it used to not be climate change. It used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place. The ice caps were going to melt. They were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, okay? They’re at a record level. There are so many things happening. I tell you what I believe in: clear air, crystal-clear beautiful water, I just believe in having good cleanliness and all.”

Or the truly incomprehensible things he does, like ignoring the fact that Congress voted 517-5 to impose new sanctions on Russia over election meddling, and Trump deciding not to impose those sanctions. Or that he’s trying to destroy the FBI and politicize it in a way that no President ever, ever has.

It’s all of it. The totality of who he is as a human being is just still so amazing to me. That he can be allowed to lead the greatest nation on Earth… I’m still not over it.

I could’ve watched the State of the Union last night. We got the kids in bed by 9, and there was no Duke game or Rangers game or any compelling sporting event I wanted to watch.

But I couldn’t. It’s not because Trump is a Republican, because I watched plenty of George H. Bush and his son W.’s SOTU’s. It’s because this man, our current President, represents so many things I loathe: Arrogance. Racism. Contempt for those he deems beneath him. An absolute belief that he is always, 100 percent right on all things.

And I’m sorry, I just can’t watch. It’s too horrifying that it’s real. If you did watch, NYT’s Nick Kristof took the time to point out all the mistakes and lies Trump told.

**Next up, the New York Times has done some wonderful and weird stuff with their short documentaries lately. I loved this one about a son, a father he didn’t know that well, and the weird things that go on in our parents’ lives that we never knew about.

**And finally today, this news kind of got lost in the shuffle this week but I think it’s worth applauding, even if it’s long, long overdue: Major League Baseball and the Cleveland Indians announced that starting in 2019, their racist logo, Chief Wahoo, would be retired and no longer used.

Like I said, this is long, long overdue. The Indians’ logo and mascot is wildly offensive to Native Americans, and the idea that it’s been kept this long just because of “tradition” is crazy. Joe Posnanski, a lifelong Cleveland sports fan, wrote this excellent piece about having conflicted feelings about Chief Wahoo’s departure.

Wahoo’s gone, and good riddance. Next up, the Washington Redskins, I hope.

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The great Roger Federer leaves me in awe again, and three cheers for Caroline Wozniacki, finally a Slam winner. And my annual Grammy thoughts from a has-been music fan

For 99 percent of professional tennis players, winning a Grand Slam title is the absolute pinnacle of their careers. So many thousands of hours of practice, sweat and tears, so many close calls and near-misses, so many injuries they’ve fought through and bad luck they’ve endured, and then one day, miraculously, they’re the last player standing, they’re holding the trophy and it’s all been worth it.

Ninety-nine percent of tennis players would kill to experience winning one Grand Slam.

Roger Federer has now won 20. And that is mind-boggling.

I know, I know, that’s very simplistic to put it like that, but it’s just one way of thinking about how amazing this 36-year-old Swiss master is. Sunday in Melbourne, Australia, he won yet another Slam title, beating Marin Cilic in five sets to win the Australian Open.

The man defies description. He goes five years between Grand Slam titles, and looks for all the world to be a man on his way out of the sport. People are calling for Federer to retire, to ride off into the sunset, all that jazz. Mind you, he was STILL in the Top 10 in the world, still playing deep into majors. But he was no longer the dominant, best-of-all-time force he once was, and so he must be told to quit.

Then, amazingly, after a six-month injury absence, he comes to Australia a year ago and wins. Then wins Wimbledon. And now wins another Aussie Open. And still gets so emotional at winning that this is his reaction in the on-court speech immediately following.

He is class personified, and I’m thrilled that he’s back on top. Twenty major titles. Just amazing.

Also a quick shout-out to Caroline Wozniacki, a fantastic player who for almost 10 years has chased a Grand Slam title that eluded her. Her career looked to be on the downswing a few years ago, but she kept fighting and finally this weekend won her first major title. Wozniacki has always struck me as a class act, always gracious in defeat and a kind person off the court. Very happy to see her finally get her moment.

*Finally today, Sunday night was, of course the Grammys, and as usual I had heard very little of the music that was performed and awarded. But as always, that doesn’t stop me from having opinions. I must admit up front I didn’t have time to watch the whole show, but skipped around.

— Kendrick Lamar, I only watch you once a year, because I’m still stuck in the 1980s, musically. But damn, you are a pretty kick-ass performer.

— Very nice and touching performance by four country music artists with their rendition of “Tears in Heaven” to honor those who died in the Las Vegas shooting massacre. Glad that was honored and talked about.

— U2’s performance was, of course, amazing, with the Statue of Liberty in the background and a song “Get Out of Your Own Way” that fits the times.

— Ke$ha and Cyndi Lauper and Co. were also fantastic. Lot of great live performances at the Grammys this year.

— Pink is amazing, which I have said on this blog many, many times. Whether she’s dangling off the side of a building and singing like she did last year, nor simply standing on stage and belting out one hell of a song like she did Sunday night, that woman is truly sensational. So pumped to see her again on her current tour; the wife and I got tickets to an April show in New York. She is so incredible.

— Logic, another musician I did not know, did a powerful performance of a song written to make a suicide-prevention hotline phone number more visible.  Also enjoyed him telling people from all over the world that ‘you are not from shithole countries,” though it’s sad CBS bleeped it out.

— Miley Cyrus and Elton John doing “Tiny Dancer” was sensational; with all of her ridiculous behavior you forget just how incredible a talent Miley is. But she was fabulous here.

— Am I the only one who didn’t know there was still a “Best Comedy Album” Grammy? Man did they play that up a lot during the show; who really cares about comedy at the Grammys?

— That James Corden, Sting and Shaggy sketch on the New York City subways. Groan, groan, groan. Just bad.

— Finally, I don’t know who Logic is, but that was a pretty fantastic little speech he gave at the end of his performance. Proud to see so many artists speak up about the atrocities this President and his allies are committing.

 

Good News Friday: An ingenious idea a kid had to get a snow day called. A bipartisan love story from Connecticut is beautiful. And a Philadelphia Eagle turns the NFL’s greed into a boon for public schools.

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there, it’s the weekend before the Super Bowl (Go Eagles, more on why you should root for them later in the column) and there’s all kinds of negative stuff going on in the world, like usual (burn in hell, Larry Nassar), but I’m in a great mood because I’m going to a bris this weekend celebrating the birth of a close friend’s baby boy, and Roger Federer may win his 20th Grand Slam singles title, at the Australian Open, and because life is awesome and “This Is Us” is FINALLY going to tell us how Jack died and we can then get on with the rest of the show.

First up today, I love this story and this kid so much. So, pretend you’re a schoolkid in Hillsboro, Mo. a couple weeks ago. There’s a big snowstorm predicted in your town, and you desperately want a snow day and no school. You know there’s only one person who has the power to cancel school, and that’s Superintendent Doc Cornman.

So what do you do? Easy. You buy boxes of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and put it on his front steps. With a note reading “You know what to do.”

Cornman had a good time with the “bribe” attempt, but alas, he did not cancel school.

Hey, it was a wonderful try by a kid. I’m hoping he keeps trying, but maybe try different candy next time.

**Next up today, a love story that crossed the political aisle. Art Linares is a Republican state senator in Connecticut. Caroline Simmons is a Democrat state senator in the same state. They are both passionate, energetic people who love the political process, and a few years ago, Linares saw Simmons for the first time.

“I said to myself ‘I think I’m in love with a Democrat,” he said.

From such, a beautiful story began. This is a very cool little “Love Story” video, and it made me smile a lot.

**And finally, there are a ton of reasons to root against the Evil Empire Patriots next Sunday, but if you need one more, how about this great gesture, and a way to stick it to the NFL’s greed, by Eagles star defensive end Chris Long. Long has already been hailed as a hero by me for playing this season for free, donating each game check to charity. And now this…

So in the playoffs the Eagles have been underdogs and their players have embraced it, making dog masks and such. Long’s teammate Lane Johnson had designed a T-shirt honoring the dog mask idea and wanted to sell them to raise money for charity. Well, the NFL, never one to miss a chance to make a nickel, started selling their own dog mask T-shirts, and the money wasn’t going to charity, it was going to their wallets.

So Long called out the NFL on Twitter, asking how much of the profits of their shirts were being donated, and what do you know, all of a sudden the NFL is giving all profits from the shirts to help fund the severely-depleted Philly school system.

Way to go, Chris Long. Such an easy guy to root for.

Kids are eating Tide pods and how can you be bored in 2018. A hilarious Serena Williams Tweet about parenting. And Obama on Letterman’s new show is fantastic.

Despite the fact that I’m now 42 years old and people half my age can legally drink alcohol, I try not to be a crotchety old man about stuff. I don’t get most current music, don’t fully understand Snapchat, and am mostly clueless on emojis and Internet/texting abbreviations.

Sure, I think millennials and the generation below them seem to be awfully entitled and whiny and expect everything to be given to them, but hey, I’m sure that could be said about every generation. So like I said, I try not to be all “Get off my lawn” all the time.

But this shit about teenagers eating Tide laundry detergent pods and making videos of themselves doing it… just might be the dumbest thing I’ve seen this year (and I’m including Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.)

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the Tide Pod Challenge has become a hot new trend among kids, whereas they challenge each other to put those tiny, square laundry detergent aids into their mouths for a while, while filming themselves and then uploading it to YouTube.

At least 10 people have been sickened from ingesting Tide Pods, though most of those have been toddlers who put them in their mouths by accident.

But this trend of kids, in 2018, putting these in their mouths because they’re bored…

Hey kids today: Do you have any freaking idea how good you have it, with so many entertainment options? Do you realize in 1982, or 1989, we had like 30 TV channels, no Internet, no cell phones, and often spent our “entertainment time” just hanging out in mall parking lots???

Do you realize that sometimes we’d just spend hours in our backyards inventing games with imaginary friends and stuff? Are you aware that we’d think it was the height of hilarity to make prank phone calls and ask “Do you have Olive Oil in a bottle? Better let her out, Popeye’s getting mad!” We would play THIS video game and find it wildly entertaining!

It’s 2018! You have cell phones and Internet and Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and Instagram and the whole world at a touch of a button! You can Skype and FaceTime to see any of your friends, at ANY time! There is never any reason to be bored, hell, I think it’s almost impossible to be bored if you’re a kid today.

And yet, somehow, the incredible array of entertaining opportunities isn’t enough. So we have kids eating laundry detergent.

Sigh. I weep for the future.

And oh yeah, get off of my lawn.

**Next up today, anyone who’s read any of my tennis posts on this blog knows I’m no Serena Williams fan, to put it mildly. But you know, sometimes she says or writes something that’s so funny and true, I gotta give it up for her. Someone sent me this the other day, and I can tell you it had me in hysterics for a full minute.

Serena, as a fellow parent, I say “Preach!”

**Finally today, Tuesday I was able to carve out an hour to finally watch the debut of David Letterman’s new Netflix series, and episode one was a fantastic interview with some dude who used to be President. Barack, something or other?

It was really terrific viewing, as they ranged from serious topics like Russian tampering in the 2016 election, and a long discussion of the famous 1965 Selma march led by John Lewis, as well as less-weighty topics like Obama’s first day after leaving the Oval Office (“I was puttering around trying to work the coffeemaker”) and the puddle of emotions he was when dropping off daughter Malia to college.

It’s a warm, wonderful hour of TV, and if you’re a Netflix subscriber, I highly recommend watching it here.

Man, I miss both of those guys.

Something old and something new coming in the Super Bowl, as the Patriots and Eagles advance. And this government shutdown is inexplicable, in many ways

The mindset of a Philadelphia Eagles fan, in one text exchange from me to my friend Dave M., a longtime Eagles supporter, when the score of the NFC Championship game Sunday was 31-7, Eagles, in the fourth quarter:

Me: “Nick Foles, oh my goodness!”
Dave: “Don’t jinx it!”

Yes, even up 24 points in a game that was pretty much un-blowable at that point, Eagles fans were still nervous. And I totally get that as a Jets fan.

But happily for the sanity of most of Pennsylvania, the franchise of Chuck Bednarik, Harold Carmichael and Reggie White did not blow it, and so we’ve got one heck of an interesting Super Bowl.

Oh sure, it would’ve been nice to see someone besides New England come out of the AFC, because we all hate them so damn much. But even though Jacksonville’s fantastic road effort fell short, I think this will be a fascinating Super Bowl. Is it Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s last hurrah? Can the ferocious Eagles defense disrupt things? Will Nick Foles remember he’s, um, Nick Foles and come back to Earth?

Should be a really fun game.

Some other thoughts from NFL Championship Sunday…

— I feel really badly for Vikings fans; would’ve been so much fun to see a home team finally host a Super Bowl in its own stadium. And after last week’s miracle win it sure seemed like they were destined to go all the way. But they got totally outplayed, and Case Keenum finally looked like the backup QB he’s been all his life. But they had one hell of a season.

— I can’t believe that was the same Nick Foles on Sunday who could barely complete a pass against the Raiders back in December. This guy looked like Joe Montana Sunday, throwing beautiful deep passes and being so accurate on the short ones. Carson Wentz couldn’t have done it better.

— Even up 20-10 in the fourth quarter, I never thought the Jaguars were going to win Sunday. The Patriots have done it for so long, and so well, that I truly never thought they were in danger. Jacksonville, though, what a hell of a future that team seems to have. So many young, fast guys on defense, a stud running back, and a quarterback, Blake Bortles, who maybe has finally turned the corner and is going to be good.

— I thought this was really sweet: The wife of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, Julie Johnston Ertz, is a U.S. Women’s National Team player. They played Sunday and apparently she didn’t know the outcome of the football game. She found out right after the final whistle, and this was her fantastic reaction.

**So, I gotta admit, I really and truly didn’t think a party that controls all three branches of the federal government would be stupid enough to actually shut the whole thing down. I mean, when you control everything,

But ya know, you gotta hand it to the Republican Party. Not only do they allow millions of federal workers to be off from work Monday, but they have the gall, the chutzpah, the effrontery to blame the shutdown on the Democrats. And the New York Times, bless their beautiful hearts that I love, actually ran headlines Friday night saying “Senate Democrats block bill to keep government open past midnight” when only 45 Republicans were on board for a short-term resolution?

This is, in reality, the first time EVER that a party that controlled the White House, the Senate and the House had endured a government shutdown. So hey, one more thing that’s never happened before, happening under Trump! Whoo-hoo.

So the government shutdown happened, because chaos is the only thing Trump and the GOP are good at. And people’s livelihoods are at stake, and paychecks will be lost, and hardship will be endured, while Mitch, Paul and Donnie boy sit back and blame everyone but themselves.

Democrats like Schumer and Booker and the rest: Hold firm on DACA. Do NOT capitulate to bullies and tyrants.

The other big news over the weekend was the Women’s March, which saw millions take to the streets from New York to L.A., from Atlanta to Seattle, and points in between.

It was very impressive to once again see a huge turnout, and if you are wondering “Well, what difference does it make if they march?” I say: A big difference. If these women (and there were men marchers too) become more politically active this year because of this march; if they register their neighbors to vote, or work on behalf of a candidate they’d previously never considered, or simply become a more informed citizen of the political process, then the march absolutely has made a difference.

More power to the people!

Good News Friday: NBA star Kyle Lowry donates $1 million to his alma mater. A Baltimore school tries meditation instead of detention, and it’s working. And a beautiful story about a father, a daughter and a driving test

And a Happy Friday to you out there, unless you’re a government employee who’s about to go on an unplanned and unpaid vacation because our Idiot-in-Chief has no clue on what he wants, so Washington D.C. comes to a halt and we have a government shutdown.

First up today, college basketball players get a bad rap these days for not giving a fig about school, and only using the university they attend as a “way station” to the NBA.

But the reality is, nearly every NCAA Division I player won’t make it to the pros, and many of them really do care about their university, and realize how big a role it plays in their lives.

One of those who did make the NBA, but didn’t forget where he came from, is Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry. Lowry made a splash this week in a great way, announcing he’s donating $1 million to Villanova University, where he grew up and learned so much.

Lowry’s story, told beautifully here by The Athletic’s Dana O’Neil, is of a hard-headed, sullen kid who came to college and four years later, left a very different man.

“They always accepted me. They all wanted me to do well,’’ Lowry says. “Yeah, I took advantage of it, but they helped me figure out how to do it.’’

Really great story here.

**Next up today, I found this next story fascinating, and hopeful. We all know teachers and principals have been giving out detentions and suspensions forever, and whether they work or not is always up for debate.

An inner-city elementary school in Baltimore named Robert W. Coleman has been trying something different: Not suspensions, but sending kids to a “Meditation Room,” where they learn to breathe and relax and not stress so much.

It’s part of a partnership with the Holistic Life Foundation, a Baltimore non-profit. Does it work? Well, there have been ZERO suspensions at Coleman this year, so that certainly seems to be a good number.

Read the story here about other ways meditation is helping these students.

**And finally today, a beautiful story from Joe Posnanski, about his daughter, turning 16, and the fear of a driver’s license test. I think we can all relate to the terror of sitting there at the DMV, waiting for your instructor to call your name, and then hoping to hell you can finally pull off a solid parallel park. (2nd-best parallel park of my life happened on my road test; it was a freaking miracle.)

Posnanski is never better than when he’s writing about his family, and this column is just sensational.

Here’s the lede:

She is so scared. I can always tell when she’s scared; she has this look on her face, and it’s not so different from the look she had when she was three years old and we were walking through Times Square, and the crowd was overwhelming her. I reached down then and picked her up and slowly the fear drained from her face. She was happy again. I cannot pick her up now. She stares at the monitor, the one that shows who will be called next. D113. C149. E228.

I look at her card again. It is A102.

It’s a wonderful tale that we all can relate to. Have a great weekend. Oh, and I’m picking the Vikings and Patriots to meet in the Super Bowl.

 

Jimmy Fallon channels James Taylor to mock Trump. New Zealanders get creative to get around drinking laws. And “SNL” brings the funny with Mika/Joe and Bill Murray

The first thing I ever really liked Jimmy Fallon for were his song parodies on his late-night show. He channeled Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen, and he did them so well, that me and millions of others figured, maybe he’s funny in late-night after all, and he shot to the top of the ratings.

Then, he cratered. He stopped being as funny, his skits seemed tired, and he didn’t do nearly as strong with his musical tributes.

I don’t know how long it’s been since Fallon made me laugh out loud like I did watching this, but it’s been a while. However this, as James Taylor doing “Fire and Rain” about the new Trump book, is perfection.

“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen fury.

I’ve seen White House staff who will have to face a jury.

I’ve seen him drink a cup of water with tiny hands,

While he’s lyin’ in bed watching Fox and Friends.”

Enjoy…

**Next up today, I’ve got Australia on the brain this week because the first Grand Slam tournament of 2018, the Australian Open has started (and wow have there been a bunch of upsets, and wow are the American players doing terribly. I think this is karma for last year’s tournament being so amazing.

Anyway, I love Australian people for many reasons, but their creativity when it comes to drinking has always impressed me. Apparently New Zealanders are equally as brilliant at finding ways around drinking laws.

Check this out: In the village of Coromandel, New Zealand, a town ordinance bans liquor over the New Year’s period, which means no alcohol in public places.

But a bunch of friends decided they wanted to find a way to drink. So they spent the early afternoon building a sandcastle in the middle of the Tairua estuary (body of water), a holidaymaker, who asked not to be named, said.

Upon building their sandy fort, members of the group were reported to have said the liquor ban didn’t apply to them as they were “in international waters”.

Once the crew’s creation was complete, they installed a wooden picnic table and chilly bin.

This is my favorite part: Waikato eastern area commander Inspector John Kelly said police weren’t aware of the novel attempt to circumvent the liquor ban.

“That’s creative thinking – if I had known that I probably would have joined them.”

I love Kiwis.

**Finally today, I missed this on “Saturday Night Live” but am so glad I got a chance to see the cold open. With cameos by Bill Murray and Leslie Jones, the fabulous Kate McKinnon gives us Mika and Joe from MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” talking about the new Trump book and flirting, hilariously.

A side note: If McKinnon doesn’t become a huge star, soon, I’ll be shocked. She is absolutely fantastic.

 

An NFL playoff game finish like no other, as the Vikings pull off a miracle. Remembering MLK’s greatest speech on his day. And one guy in Hawaii almost ended the world Saturday

It has become sort of a tradition on Twitter, when something amazing happens in the world of bats and balls and sweaty people, for myself and others to simply Tweet, “Sports, man. Sports.”

Because sometimes there just is no explanation. No rhyme or reason, no cogent analysis of why something completely improbable happened. Just that it did, and it brought such joy and anguish, and I’m going to stop waxing poetic now and just show you this:

The New Orleans Saints led the Minnesota Vikings 24-23 with 10 seconds to go Sunday in Minnesota. The Vikings had blown a 17-point lead and were about to lose, yet again, in excruciating fashion in the playoffs. And then, with the stadium cathedral-quiet, this happened…

Or, viewed another way, from the vantage point of the field at U.S. Bank Stadium, THIS happened (Warning: the crowd noise gets insanely loud a few seconds in, so watch yourself)

The Minnesota Vikings won a remarkable, improbable football game Sunday night, thanks to some really poor defense by the Saints, and some sort of miracle magic from above (Kirby Puckett and Prince cooked up something fierce).

I was driving in the car listening on radio when it happened, both little boys sleeping in the back seat, my wonderful wife indulging me listening to a game in which she knew I cared about neither team, and when the play occurred I think I yelped four octaves above my normal range, and probably swerved into the right lane of the Long Island Expressway.

Crazy, crazy game. Now Minnesota plays Philadelphia, two pretty tortured franchises, each playing a quarterback nobody ever expected to see on the field this year, certainly not in an NFC Championship game. Should be fantastic.

Some other thoughts from a pretty freaking fabulous NFL playoff weekend:

— Jacksonville? Jacksonville! Big congrats to any team that can put up 45 points on the road when Blake Bortles is the quarterback. That was one hell of a win in Steelers-ville, 45-42. Do I give the Jaguars any chance to beat New England next week? Yeah, they have a chance. It would take a pretty major miracle, but may I remind you what happened at the end of the Vikings/Saints game?

— Not pretty, that Eagles win over Atlanta Saturday. But I know a lot of Eagles fans and they don’t care how ugly any win is, nor should they. Their star QB Carson Wentz is out, and Nick Foles played pretty damn well, and the Atlanta Falcons did what the Falcons do in most postseasons with Matt Ryan as their QB, and that’s underwhelm. Atlanta absolutely could’ve and maybe should’ve won that game, but as usual, fell a bit short.

— Hilarious to think of the four remaining starting quarterbacks in the playoffs. Hmmm, let’s see, which one of these is not like the other: Bortles. Keenum. Foles … Tom Brady.

— Every time the Steelers lose in the playoffs I see a lot of screaming from their fans about how bad a coach Mike Tomlin is. And I always say the same thing: Please, let him come coach the Jets. We’ll suffer through these 12-win seasons and constant playoff appearances. SMH.

**Next up, today  is of course Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so I hope you all take a few minutes and listen to this incredible piece of American oratory, from August 28, 1963.

Every time I listen to it, I still get a few chills. What an amazing man.

**And finally today, this ought to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy and hopeful about the future. There was a fairly serious emergency panic in Hawaii on Saturday, due to an accidental emergency missile attack alert being sent out from the state government’s alert system. From The Washington Post, here’s how it happened:

Shortly after 8 a.m. local time Saturday morning, an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency settled in at the start of his shift. Among his duties that day was to initiate an internal test of the emergency missile warning system: essentially, to practice sending an emergency alert to the public without actually sending it to the public.

Around 8:05 a.m., the Hawaii emergency employee initiated the internal test, according to a timeline released by the state. From a drop-down menu on a computer program, he saw two options: “Test missile alert” and “Missile alert.” He was supposed to choose the former; as much of the world now knows, he chose the latter, an initiation of a real-life missile alert.

A drop-down menu? Seriously? Who among us, and I’m completely serious, hasn’t accidentally clicked the wrong thing on a drop down menu?

Hey here’s a tip to all governments, everywhere: Put the “test” button option and the “Missile alert” option on separate buttons. Separate screens, or hell, how about separate computers!

Hugs and kisses,

The World.

Good News Friday: A Florida teacher donates a kidney to a student’s dying mom. Sarah Silverman encounters a rude troll, and changes his life for the better. And dogs snowboarding, because they can.

Happy Friday to you beautiful people out there. Boy oh boy oh boy, if this wasn’t Good News Friday I might just go off on a 1,000-word rant about our Shithole-in-Chief and how he continues, amazingly, to find lower and lower ground to sink to.

But dammit, I’m staying positive today, so no Shithole jokes out of me, though I will link to this Trevor Noah “The Daily Show” clip which made me laugh pretty hard.

Anyway, on with the show… So much good stuff out there this week. Wanted to start with an incredible story from “CBS Sunday Morning” and my man Steve Hartman, whose job I totally want.

Recently Steve introduced us to an amazing elementary school teacher in Florida named Donna Hoagland, who found out the mom of one of her students was suffering from kidney failure. The rest… well, just watch and get the Kleenex ready.

**Next up today, I thought this was actually a pretty great example of one person, reaching out to someone who mindlessly Tweeted hurtful things, and changing a life.

Comedian Sarah Silverman is loved by many, disliked by others, and ignored by some. She’s a comedian and she’s political so I totally get why not everyone loves her. But a few weeks ago Silverman did something extraordinary.

After one of her Tweets, a man named Jeremy Jamrozy replied to her with a disgusting, vulgar four-letter word that starts with C and is normally directed toward women. A See you Next Tuesday, as it’s sometimes called.

There was absolutely no reason for him to say something so derogatory, but 99 percent of us would’ve just ignored or deleted it. But Silverman in recent months has been trying something different, trying to connect with people in a different way, so she wrote Jeremy back, saying: “I believe in you. I read ur timeline & I see what ur doing & your rage is thinly veiled pain,” she tweeted back. “But u know that. I know this feeling. Ps My back F–king sux too,” she added, referring to the back troubles the user mentioned in his Twitter feed. “See what happens when u choose love. I see it in you.”

And that could’ve been that. But it gets so much better. Stunned by Silverman replying, Jamrozy wrote back: “I can’t choose love. A man that resembles Kevin Spacey took that away when I was 8. I can’t find peace if I could find that guy who ripped my body who stripped my innocence I’d kill him. He fucked me up and I’m poor so its hard to get help.”

All of a sudden, a dialogue had started. Soon, Silverman was asking her followers for back specialist recommendations near San Antonio, where Jamrozy lives, and raised several thousand dollars for him.

Jamrozy has five herniated discs in his back, but is getting treatment and is now so grateful for Silverman’s reaching out. And Jamrozy has been overwhelmed with support.

“Thank you to all the support financially, emotionally, and donations. This is more than I could have wished for. Thank you nicos organics I received ur package am excited to try the products out. Thank u everyone. U showed me a lot within a few days. Love u all.”

So much good out there. It just takes one person, reaching out, helping another person.

**Finally today, some things just make everyone smile. Here is a dog, pulling a sled, about to go snowboarding.

Oh, and one more good news thing: The Minnesota Vikings host an NFL playoff game on Sunday. Millie Wall is 99 years old and one of their biggest fans, but she’s never been to a game in person.

The Vikings are changing that. How great is this???

**Sarah Silverman and the troll with the bad back…

 

**Doggie snowboarding video.

“Molly’s Game” a cracklingly good movie with Jessica Chastain in control. A crazy finish in college hoops’ USC-Stanford game. And another judicial blow to ridiculous gerrymandering.

I know very little about poker, other than I used to play it badly in high school and college among my friends. I never understood the poker craze from about 15 years ago, when suddenly it was on TV all the time, nor could I understand in a million years the appeal of people sitting at home watching other people play cards. For hours! And listening to broadcasters analyze it.

Truly, I would’ve rather watched Newt Gingrich sing off-key nursery rhymes to children.

But I do know that poker is a very dramatic card game, and that there have been quite a few really good poker movies made (Rounders, anyone?), so I kind of figured that “Molly’s Game” would be good.

Throw in that Aaron Sorkin, who’s been way better writing movies than TV since “The West Wing” ended, was writing and directing it, and that Jessica Chastain was starring as the true-life heroine who hosted incredibly high-stakes poker games for celebrities before suffering a downfall, and “Molly’s Game” was almost certain to be great.

And it was very, very good. If you’re a Sorkin-phile like me, you’ll love the script, though it’s not quite as good as his writing on “The Social Network” or “Steve Jobs.”

If you’re not familiar with the story, Chastain (who’s in 99 percent of the scenes of this movie, truly she carries the thing) plays Molly Bloom, a former Olympic-level skier who suffers a big crash and sees her athletic dreams evaporate in an instant. She eventually moves to L.A., gets a job as a personal assistant/slave for a Hollywood jerk, then finds happiness and opportunity when he asks her to organize a poker game.

Soon Molly is taking over the weekly game, enticing big rollers and actors to play, and raking in serious cash (in real life, people like Leo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire were regular players).

But of course Molly doesn’t stay on top forever; a combination of Maguire’s dickish-ness (played beautifully by Michael Cera) and, without giving anything away, other sinister factors take her down, with the FBI getting involved.

Chastain is sensational in “Molly’s Game,” I haven’t seen too many of her movies (I think “Zero Dark Thirty” was the first flick I watched her in, she was great in that too), but she lights up the screen here. Kevin Costner is in the movie for about five minutes, total, until a fantastic, long scene at the end, and Idris Elba (shout-out to Stringer Bell!) is great as Molly’s lawyer.

There’s a lot of poker talk in the movie but you don’t really need to understand it all; what is easy to understand is how a beautiful, connected woman who knows how to play to men’s egos and insecurities can rise up to a powerful spot in their lives.

“Molly’s Game,” like most movies, is about 20 minutes too long. But the acting is phenomenal and it’s a compelling story. Plus, the ski footage is pretty amazing, too.

Definitely a film worth seeing.

**Next up today, it’s January and while I’ve been in full college basketball mode since November, I realize not everyone else is. So in my quest to start getting y’all ready for March Madness, check out this crazy finish from the Stanford-USC men’s game on Sunday.

With the score tied at 74 and less than five seconds left, USC’s Jordan McLaughlin made a spectacular drive to the basket and then sank a twisting layup which absolutely should’ve been the game-winning hoop.

Except, Stanford still had two seconds, and Daejon Davis, and well, this happened…

**Finally today, a pretty huge political story broke Tuesday night, and no, it’s not Donald Trump admitting he doesn’t know the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Gerrymandering, that controversial practice states use to draw incredibly unfair and imbalanced district lines, so as to preserve majorities for their party, suffered another big blow. North Carolina, one of the worst gerrymander offenders, had its recent law struck down.

From this story: “A panel of three federal judges in North Carolina ruled on Tuesday that the state’s congressional map was unconstitutionally partisan, and ordered that it be re-drawn before the end of the month.

The court agreed that the map, which was originally drawn in 2011, was drawn to favor Republicans and thus violates the First Amendment, as well as the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the Election Clause. It’s the second time North Carolina’s congressional maps have been thrown out — in 2016, three federal judges ruled that state’s congressional districts were the result of an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.”

This is outstanding news for those of us who believe in fair elections, and fair representation. Between Wisconsin, North Carolina and Texas, those three states have been sliced and diced to death, all to favor the GOP. Of course I know the Democrats gerrymander, too, but not this blatantly.

2018 is going to be a great year, and this is one terrific start.