Tag Archives: Billy Joel

The great “Jeopardy James” finally loses, and a nation is shocked. Billy Joel and Def Leppard singer do a fabulous duet on a classic. And Roger vs. Rafa, one more time, at the French Open

All great streaks must end, eventually.

Cal Ripken played 2,632 straight baseball games, then sat one out.
The UCLA men’s basketball team won 88 consecutive games, then lost

My 4 1/2 year old son suffered a tiny bump or bruise and didn’t cry… no wait, sorry, that streak of tears is still going.
Anyway, you get my point.

Monday night, millions of viewers across America watched, stunned with mouths agape, as the great “Jeopardy James” Holzhauer was finally defeated on the quiz show.

Mere thousands of dollars shy of breaking Ken Jennings’ all-time record money haul, Holzhauer, the professional sports gambler from Vegas, lost.

He lost to a 27-year-old librarian from Chicago named Emma, who once wrote a dissertation on how to win at “Jeopardy” and the difficulty level of the clues come up. He lost for a bunch of reasons, none of which were that he got any answers wrong (he didn’t buzz in and get a single one wrong, incredibly.)
James’ streak died because he came up against a fantastic player, yes.

But he also ran out of luck with Daily Doubles, the biggest reason he’s been able to win more than two million dollars on the show over the past several weeks.

He found the first Daily Double on the first clue of the game, which meant James could only wager $1,000 at most. Then in the Double Jeopardy round, Emma found both Daily Doubles, and passed, then padded, her lead over James.

So the great Holzhauer, who I found so entertaining with his breadth of knowledge and cool wagers, never got a chance to run up a big score like he always does.

I embedded the last two minutes of the episode from Monday above; check out how the crowd gasps when they realize James lost, then listen to how choked up Alex Trebek gets at the end! He’s legit bummed that James is done.

Bravo, young Jedi Master James. We all bow before you. Now let’s get that head-to-head matchup with Ken Jennings scheduled and on TV, pronto.

**Next up today, there’s no way in the world once I saw this, that I wasn’t putting it here.

Def Leppard is one of my all-time favorite bands, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” is one of their classic songs, and Billy Joel, God bless him, tries to spice up his monthly Madison Square Garden shows every once in a while.

So he had Joe Elliott, the band’s lead singer, come out for a duet on “Pour Some Sugar on Me” with him Sunday night.

Very freaking cool. 1989 me would be freaking out if I saw this live. (By the way, how incredible is fan-taken live concert footage quality these days? Remember when it used to be all grainy and out of focus?)

**And finally today, oh man, Tuesday was a glorious day for me and the other tennis nuts out there. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both won their quarterfinals at Roland Garros, and that means on Friday morning, we get Fedal 39, the 39th meeting ever between two of the 5-6 greatest men’s tennis players of all time.

Yes, after eight years of them not playing each other at the French Open, and four years after Federer last played in Paris at this clay-court Slam, we get another installment of one of the best rivalries in the history of the sport.

The enormous Fed fan in me wants to believe Roger can beat the best clay-courter ever, that he’s been turning back time for a few weeks, and accomplish the one feat he never has: Beating Rafa in his backyard, Roland Garros.

But I dunno… it’s going to be incredibly tough. Nadal is playing so damn well right now, and he’s not tired at all from the cakewalk matches he’s been having so far at this tournament.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be special. These two incredible sportsman, both so worthy of emulation for the way they carry themselves on and off the court, might never play again at a Slam.

So I’m sure as hell going to savor this meeting Friday, however it turns out. And if you’re a sports fan, so should you.

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Attending a college graduation this weekend spurs thoughts of my own, 20 years ago. Billy Joel and Axl Rose duet together on stage. Seriously. And the end of the reign of “Michael.”

I’m a pretty nostalgic guy, both for my own childhood, and for the world in general, and when it comes to my own life, I always find myself thinking about milestones, anniversaries, and key dates in my four decades on Earth.

But for some reason the fact that this year is the 20th anniversary of my college graduation has totally snuck up on me. I thought about it a few times as my wonderful alma mater, the University of Delaware, sent me emails reminding me to come to alumni weekend and oh yeah, donate some money as well.

But with life being busy, I just haven’t spent much time thinking about it. Until Saturday, when the wife and little boy and I went to Fordham University’s commencement. We went because two of our babysitters, Juily and Caroline, were graduating, and we love them for many reasons, including how great they are with our boy, and we wanted to show our support.

The graduation itself was pretty run-of-the-mill, a speaker droning on, but then hearing the individual names of the students being honored got me thinking.

It is still, and probably always be, a pretty huge deal to graduate, and watching the pride and excitement of these 21 and 22-year-olds walk across a stage, shake hands with a dean, and then look excitedly into the mass of people in the crowds while trying to find their families, was special to watch.

I always knew going to college was completely expected of me, and I never once thought it was an option not to graduate.  But still, that day back in 1997 felt so important. I felt like I had accomplished something; I’d worked hard in college but not always in class, my sweat equity was mostly saved for endless hours at the school newspaper, learning and falling in love with what would be my profession.

The idea that this was the end of my educational journey struck me as both exciting and terrifying; my life had always been organized around September being the beginning of a new year; I remember in September 1997 feeling totally strange for a few days with no school to go to; what, you mean the summer ends and I don’t have any books or homework to worry about?

That graduation day 20 years ago was a milestone I was proud of; my fellow Blue Hens and I (worst mascot in America but we loved it) knew we had accomplished something.

Watching those Fordham grads strut a little after their ceremony on Saturday, the old memories, and pride, came flowing back.

Congratulations to any and all college graduates this spring; it is still a very big deal and quite a worthy accomplishment.

**Next up today, I know there’s a great tradition in live music concerts for the star performer to bring up a “special guest” or a “great friend” who’s also a mega-famous singer, but never in a million years would I have expected these two to be up on stage together.

Yet last week at Dodgers Stadium, Billy Joel brought on his “friend” Axl Rose, to sing AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” and the Piano Man’s own “Big Shot.”

I was a huge Guns N’ Roses fan way back when, and I’ve loved Billy Joel since I was 10, but seeing them on stage together here is… weird. It is an interesting juxtaposition to think of their careers together, though: Rose had a huge impact all at once, becoming incredibly famous and then crashing and burning and never really recovered from the crush of fame he received. He’s had so many problems over the years, from drugs and alcohol to showing up hours late for concerts, and he’s so unreliable that he doesn’t have much of a career anymore.

Joel, meanwhile, started off small and slowly, built a reputation as a great songwriter and singer, and has seen his fame endure for, what, at least 40 years now. He’s had lots of problems, too (bankruptcy, drinking and driving) but kept his head down and just kept performing, and now he’s a bullet-proof icon.

Anyway, just a thought. Watch the video and tell me if it’s as weird for me as it is for you.

**Finally today, a small “funeral” for my first name. For the past 45 years, Michael has been one of the most popular, if not the most popular, boys name for parents. Not one class I was ever in, from kindergarten through college, was I the only Michael. Always had to ask the teacher for the last name of the Michael they were looking for.

Lots of times, I wish I had a unique name. There were too many Michael’s in the world, I always felt; why’d my parents have to be so trendy? (And don’t get me started on the early 1980s problems we had, when Life cereal ran their “Mikey Likes It” commercials 24/7, and we Michael’s had to endure being called “Mikey” for years.” Then again, Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan had our name so that wasn’t too bad.)

But now, the reign of Michael seems to have officially ended. New numbers released by the Social Security Administration show Michael to have slipped to 8th place in 2016, and at its lowest level since 1940.

The Liams, Noahs and Masons of our world have all edged Michael aside. And I’m a little sad, surprisingly. I liked being so popular 🙂

Good News Friday: Some more tales from the stay-at-home Dad files. A real NFL hero, the Panthers’ Thomas Davis. And every Billy Joel song ever, ranked.

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My son will be five months old on Tuesday, and I swear every day in my mind I ping-pong between “I don’t know where the time has gone” and “Wow, it’s only been five months?”

One of the joys of being a stay-at-home father is that every day, I seem to notice something new about how he’s growing, changing, and making my life so much better.

But you don’t want to hear about the mushy stuff. So here are some of the stranger thoughts and occurrences, as I present my latest installment of “The Daddy Files.”

— So I’m not sure if this is a typical baby thing or not, but it’s uncanny: Every night we put him down smack in the center of his crib, and within seconds my son scoots his way up to the top right corner, and sleeps with his head practically up against the edge of the crib. Whenever I go in and move him back to the center, he still gets back to the top corner within a few minutes.

I mean, is that particular spot the most comfy?

— The single most important item in your home when you have a baby? The Oxy-Clean spray that gets stains out. God, the number of outfits that have been saved by a quick Oxy treatment. Seriously, they could charge 50 bucks a bottle for it and I’d still pay it.

–I truly had no idea poop came in so many colors. Every time I change a diaper it’s like opening a bag of Skittles.

— He giggles now, often uncontrollably. Best sound in the world.

— Is it OK that I, as a perennially and permanently short person, am beyond excited that at his last checkup my son was found to be in the 75th percentile for height? I know, I know, it doesn’t really mean anything yet. But damn, as a 5-foot-5 1/2 inch person, I would so love for my spawn to hit, I don’t know, 5-9?

— People warned me that as a stay-at-home parent I’d be desperate for adult contact during the day. But honestly, between reporting for my freelance writing gigs and the fact that the grandparents are always checking in, it hasn’t been that bad.

— He’s a fantastic night sleeper, going 10-11 hours a night. But he’s not a great napper. Still, that’s a much better problem to have than the other way around, I know.

— I have conquered my previous, all-encompassing fear that I’m going to drop him.
Now I’m always worried that when he rolls over he’ll conk his head into a table and give himself a concussion.

Is that progress for my mental state?

**Next up, I consider myself a pretty big Billy Joel fan, but I’m nowhere near at the level  of Christopher Bonanos, a writer for vulture.com. The other day Bonanos compiled an exhaustive list of all 121 recorded original songs by the Piano Man, and then ranked them.

It’s pretty much guaranteed to annoy most fans like me because he has some of my favorites ranked way too low (“Goodnight Saigon” is only No. 38, but”Say Goodbye to Hollywood” is No. 14? And “She’s Always a Woman” is way too lowly ranked), but it’s also fascinating to read why he rates certain songs higher.

Go ahead and lose yourself in the list for 10 minutes. And No. 1 is an inspired choice.

thomas-davis-800

**Are you as sick of the braggart Seattle Seahawks, the (possibly) cheating New England Patriots, and the squirrelly, morals and facts-challenged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as I am?

This week, with all the fallout from the Super Bowl, the story of a wonderful NFL player got lost in the shuffle a bit. Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers won the league’s Man of the Year award, and man, is this guy deserving.
Let me just tell you about some of the wonderful things Davis does: His hometown of Shellman, Ga., never had a playground when Thomas was a kid. So once he made the NFL, he built one. He sends two needy students from the Carolina area to college every year, on him. He buys Christmas presents for 300 kids who might not otherwise get any, and his Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation established an after-school leadership and mentoring program.

He also throws a lavish Thanksgiving dinner every year for victims of domestic abuse living in a women’s shelter.

In short, Thomas Davis is a wonderful human being, who deserves to be celebrated just as much as the arrogant Marshawn Lynches and Rob Gronkowskis of the world.

“I do things like that because I love to see kids have smiles on their faces,” Davis has said. “As a young kid, I knew my circumstances, I didn’t have the opportunity. I know as a leader of the community, I can give back. I want to be part of the solution.”

A fantastic profile of the great Billy Joel, tortured genius. A girl with an inoperable brain tumor has an amazing day of hoops. And I hold my nose and praise the incredible Tom Brady

NikWallenda.Chicago

**Nothing to see up above, just Nik Wallenda walking blindfolded on a high wire, without a net, above the city of Chicago Sunday night. Insane.

I’ve really fallen down on the job lately in this space when it comes to recommending/highlighting great stories I’m reading. There’s so much out there that’s so well-written that I try to point readers toward, but the truth is I do a much better job of hyping great stories on my Twitter feed than I do here.

But I’m trying to rectify that this week with two posts about amazing journalism I’ve read lately. The first is this exquisitely-researched and composed profile of Billy Joel by Nick Paumgarten in the The New Yorker. If you’re a kid who grew up on Long Island in the 1970s and ’80s like I did, Billy Joel pretty much was the soundtrack of your childhood.
Even if you weren’t a fan, his music was everywhere, on every station, seemingly all the time.

I’ve always been a big admirer of his music, have a ton of his albums, and know all the lyrics to many of his songs (not that you asked, but my three favorite songs of his are “She’s Always A Woman,” “Goodnight Saigon,” and, “The Angry Young Man.”)

But Joel has always had off-stage troubles, from legal problems to drinking problems to women problems. He comes off as a hard guy to work with and to like, but Paumgarten does such a thorough, fantastic job in this story, and given so much access by Joel, that the reader is sort of forced to admire all that Joel has accomplished. And at 65, he’s still going strong, making $25 million for just a dozen concerts at Madison Square Garden in 2014.
A really terrific story; I know it’s long, but read it a little bit at a time when you can, it’s so well worth it.

laurenhill.gameshot

**I’ve been following this Lauren Hill story for several weeks, and almost wrote about it a bunch of times. But each time I stopped, because I wanted to wait until it had at least a sliver of a happy ending, which it did Sunday.

Lauren Hill is a 19-year-old college freshman from Ohio. She was supposed to be a varsity starter for tiny Division III Mt. St. Joseph’s (OH) College this year, but as a high school senior she received some devastating news from her doctor: Lauren 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 this summer that she likely only had months to live.

Lauren still wanted to live out her dream of playing one college basketball game, and Mt. St. Joseph’s desperately wanted that for her, too.

And so the NCAA agreed to let MSJ move one of its early-season games up to Sunday, so Hill could play. A tsunami of love and support poured over her from everywhere in the world, with famous pro athletes, fans from as far away as Japan, and so many thousands of people in Cincinnati who bought tickets to the game.

Finally the game came on Sunday, and off the opening tap, Lauren Hill sank a layup. And the biggest cheer she ever heard erupted from the crowd. They gave her a standing ovation, and chanted her name, and … here, just watch. If you don’t get chills, check your pulse, you may not be alive.

Such a horrible hand Lauren Hill got dealt in life. There’s nothing anyone can do to get rid of her tumor, but they at least gave her one incredible day. Here’s a great story about her ordeal, and her wonderful day Sunday, and why Lauren Hill has inspired so many.

**And finally, a few words about a man who has tormented my football team for more than a decade. A man I loathe, a man I’m sick of, but a man I can’t help but stand in awe of after yet another phenomenal performance Sunday.

I speak of course of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who helped throttle the Broncos Sunday. Year after year, Brady, like Dan Marino before him, has driven a stake through my football heart, but leaving that aside, he truly is one of the five greatest quarterbacks I’ve ever seen play.

Every year, his supporting cast changes, he hasn’t had a good running game in a decade, and his receivers are rarely big-name guys. But Tom Brady gets it done, year after year, game after game. Sure he’s lost a couple of Super Bowls, but they weren’t his fault. The man is incredibly consistent, and at 37, still on top of his game.

I hate him, but he is a marvel and a legend. And he deserves all the accolades he gets.

Geez, you see what an eight game Jets losing streak does to me? I’m writing paeans to Tom Brady!

Matt Taibbi’s blistering new book is fabulous. The best ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” you’re going to see. And Billy Joel serenades Christie Brinkley (again).

Ferguson

**Just got home and am watching some of the disgusting and disturbing video of the Ferguson, Mo. police firing on peaceful protesters, arresting journalists (and tear-gassing them, above), and turning the town into a military state. What country are we living in, again?

Long, long ago there used to be a great newspaper tradition of the “muckraking journalist,” guys like Upton Sinclair and Mike Wallace who would expose corruption, fraud and the incredible double standards that exists in the law between rich and poor, black and white, etc.

Matt Taibbi is probably the best “muckraker” working today; he has written incredible stories for “Rolling Stone” and other publications for years, and his latest book, “The Divide,” has been on the New York Times bestseller list for months.

I finally got around to reading it this week, and it is sensational. It made me angry, sad, made me laugh and shake my fist, sometimes all in the same paragraph. This is a really, really important book.

Taibbi takes on several different topics in the book, including the appalling behavior of the police when dealing with minorities, immigration laws and discrimination, and the 2008 financial crisis that saw so many financial institutions commit crimes, yet no one went to jail.

What runs through every section is the incredible divide between the haves and have nots, that the same crime committed by a Hispanic man in Los Angeles will be punished differently than if it’s committed by a while middle-class professional in Chicago. The world poor people live in and rich people live in isn’t even in the same universe anymore, Taibbi argues.

Using personal stories that will shock you (the most shocking one comes at the end, involving a white musician and police brutality) and make you think, Taibbi’s reporting is terrific, and he breaks down complex financial crimes so that even non-money whizzes can understand them (his work on the Fairfax financial scam is the best part of the book).

It’s appalling how certain groups are treated in America. I knew it was bad, I knew as a white middle-class guy I had it pretty good. But this book showed me just how very far we have to go to achieve any sort of justice and equality for all.

You can buy “The Divide” here. Definitely recommend it.

 

**So this ALS Ice Bucket Challenge thing has gone viral super-fast; if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m guessing you haven’t been on the Internet this week, but a quick explanation: In a brilliant attempt to raise money and awareness of the awful disease (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), the ALS Association has gotten celebrities of all stripes to take the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which consists of a person allowing another person to dump a Gatorade jug of ice and freezing cold water over their head.

Football players are doing it, actors are doing it, hell, some 9-year-old friend of my nephew’s at day camp did it too; the other part that keeps it going is that after you suffer the freezing cold, you challenge three other people to do it too.

This one I embedded above, though, has to be the coolest one yet; hockey player Paul Bissonnette on top of a mountain, getting glacier water poured on him, from a dude in a helicopter.  So great.

The ALS Foundation reports the challenge has raised more than $2 million already; if you would like to donate, please click here.

**Finally, it’s great to be Billy Joel sometimes. Last week the music icon was doing a concert at Madison Square Garden and spotted Christie Brinkley, his ex-wife and the woman about whom he wrote the song “Uptown Girl” back in the 1980s, sitting in the crowd.

So of course he then launched into “Uptown Girl” and had his video cameraman film her reaction (at the end you can see her). So, so cool.

And how the hell does Christie Brinkley still look so amazing at 60-plus?

Some thoughts on the first four days of March Madness (but not on Duke losing). Rachel Maddow on the death of Fred Phelps. And Fallon and Billy Joel tune up

Syracuse v Dayton

Here’s what you won’t be reading today at Wide World of Stuff: A several-hundred word rant on the incredibly disappointing and sucky Duke men’s basketball team, which for the 2nd time in three years got bounced out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round by a vastly less-heralded team.

You won’t be reading that because since the game happened Friday afternoon, I’ve had more than 48 hours to stew about it, rant about it to my friends, and basically process it through my sports digestive system.

Instead, I want to talk about some of the other incredible stuff that’s happened in the first few days of March Madness, the greatest event in sports:

— Like the North Dakota State upset over Oklahoma on Friday night, which led to this awesome dancing from players and coach…

And the dancing from that Mercer kid I know I’m already sick of, Kevin Canavari, who played six minutes in their win over Duke but hey, kid’s entitled to celebrate:

— One of the constant themes of just about every upset, or blown lead (I’m looking at you, N.C. State): Missed free throws. It’s the easiest shot in the game, the one where no one guards you, yet every  year at crunch time players miss ’em. Crazy.
— Not shocking that Duke or Kansas lost early, because they were led by freshmen and sophomores. That’s why Mercer, Stephen F. Austin, and North Dakota State’s wins weren’t shockers; those teams have been playing together for years, not months. They know each other’s games so well.

— I know a lot of people don’t like Charles Barkley as an announcer, and I don’t like him sometimes, too. But he is damn funny.

— Dear CBS: We don’t need to see a little boy in the stands crying over Kansas about to lose, SEVEN times in the last few minutes of the Stanford upset over the Jayhawks. I mean, OK, show the kid once for the human drama, but to keep going back to it is cruel.

— I know that No. 15 Eastern Kentucky didn’t end up beating Kansas, and No. 16 Coastal Carolina lost their steam and fell to No. 1 seed Virginia, but those moments, where the underdog is winning in the second half and their bench is going crazy and the crowd starts to believe this really can happen? Best part of the Tournament, every year.

— Best team I saw over the first four days: Wisconsin. Second-best? Florida.

— Finally, I can’t tell you how infuriating I found that Chris Webber/Burger King commercial, though not as infuriating as any Michigan fan surely did. Chris Webber, if you don’t know, was a major star at UM in the early 1990s, leading the Wolverines to two nat’l title game appearances. You won’t find any of those wins Webber led Michigan to in the NCAA record books, because thanks to Webber taking cash and benefits from agents, all those wins were wiped out.

Michigan was also put on probation thanks to Webber, and the sanctions set the program back years.

And now here he is in 2014, 20 years later, wearing a maize and blue Michigan jersey in a Burger King commercial, making money for himself off his association with Michigan basketball! The chutzpah, the gall, the whatever, of Webber to do that is mind-boggling.

**Next up today, you may have heard that Fred Phelps, leader of the disgusting Westboro Baptist Church and one of the most odious human beings who ever lived, died last week.
Rachel Maddow beautifully dissects the “positive” legacy of Phelps. This piece is so worth your time, to reaffirm that so much hate, can breed so much love and compassion:

**And finally, Jimmy Fallon and Billy Joel team up for an awesome musical duet, doing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” thanks to a cool iPad app called Looper.

Seems like Fallon can get his musical guests to do anything.

Good News Friday: Billy Joel makes a college kid’s dream come true. A Corgi who’s an awesome goalie. And the best video Bar Mitzvah invite ever

**Was all set to write about my excitement that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played Thursday night in California, their first match in a year. But Fed’s injured back barely let him move, and Nadal, not really healthy himself, drubbed him. Made me sad to see Fed so not like himself. Get better soon, Fed.

Meanwhile, watching 5 minutes of Jerry Seinfeld doing stand-up from Wednesday night cheered me up a little. The man’s still got it.

Billy Joel may not be what he used to be; his voice isn’t the same, his reputation has been ruptured by his several drunk driving incidents (hey, when “Saturday Night Live” parodies you multiple times, that’s not good), and he hasn’t made any new music in quite a while.

But for people like me who great up in the 1980s with his music, he’ll always be a legend. So it was nice to see a kid who was born WAY after “Piano Man” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” came out feel the same way about Billy as millions of us do.

At a college student lecture/concert recently at Vanderbilt University, Billy was asked a question by 20-year-old Michael Pollack, a Vandy student and aspiring songwriter who asked if he could come up and play “New York State of Mind” with Joel.

Billy said “Sure,” and the above video ensued. Just beautiful. I’ve talked about this with my friend Pearlman a bunch, as both of us have been around celebrities a lot and have seen how big of a jerk they can be to fans.

It takes so little for a superstar to make the day of a fan, so little to give someone a lasting memory. I don’t know why more celebrities don’t just take the five seconds to be nice.

Anyway, the Vandy kid does a hell of a job here, don’t you think? Here’s a little background on how he got to play with Billy.

**And now, the most excited Corgi in the world, playing goalie with a ball tossed by his owner.

The anticipation of the dog is my favorite part; he just cannot wait for that ball to be thrown.

**Finally today, saying something is “the coolest Bar Mitzvah invitation ever” isn’t exactly clearing a high bar, I know. But this kid Jorel totally nailed this video invite, with an assist from the music of Queen;

I wish I could go, I bet it’ll be a killer party.

The WikiLeaks scandal doesn’t move me. And an incredible Billy Joel interview

So the entire media world seems to be going crazy over this newest WikiLeaks scandal, involving thousands of leaked diplomatic cables that were top-secret.
Thanks to someone who’s leaking this stuff, we’re supposed to believe, thanks to a hysterical press corps, that national security has been threatened, diplomacy ruined, and the entire world may come crashing down.
Please. Been reading about the WikiLeaks disclosure for a little while tonight, and it sounds to me like much ado about very little.
We have learned, for example, that the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called Iranian officials “big, fat liars,” and that the U.S. has tried to persuade Pakistan to give America some of its nuclear weapons.
There is other stuff in there, unflattering stuff about world leaders, but I mean really, everyone knows that people talk behind each other’s back. That’s what makes the world go round: gossip.
I just don’t see what the big deal is. Maybe I’m missing the boat here. Or maybe, once again, my friends in the media are making this out to be a way bigger deal than it really is.

**It’s fairly required that if you grew up on Long Island in the 1980s, you’re a Billy Joel fan. So of course I was, and still am, a huge fan.
Billy was one of us, just a working-class schlub from the Island who wrote songs on the piano that became the soundtrack to many of our lives. I saw him in concert once, back when I was in high school around 1991 or so, and it was freaking incredible.
Anyway, Billy’s songs have always meant so much to me, from the beautiful “She’s Always a Woman” and “And So it Goes” (a wildly underrated Joel classic) to “Piano Man” and “Summer Highland Falls.”

Howard Stern? I’m so not a fan. But last week Howard had Billy on his satellite radio show for 90 minutes, and it was an incredible interview. Stern came off as just a regular guy, asking questions, and it was fabulous. Billy talked about how he wrote certain songs, how lyrics “muck up” beautiful music, and of his days banging Elle McPherson, and then Christie Brinkley (it was a rough life for Mr. Joel).

If you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, here’s Part 1. All six parts are on YouTube, if you’re interested. It’s truly a fantastic conversation.