Tag Archives: Chris Jones

Good News Friday: Lin-Manuel and friends make a girl’s “Hamilton” dream come true. A story of a small kindness re-told 30 years later, with an amazing postscript. And musicians cover a classic 60s song beautifully.

Happy Friday, y’all! How’s everybody doing with the self-isolation thing? We here in New York are four weeks in and well, we’re doing fine. We’ve gotten into a rhythm and routine and as long as the weather is decent, we get outside all the time.

There’s been a glimmer of positive COVID-19 news this week, thank God, as things may be improving slightly.

So on that note, let’s swing into Good News Friday. I’ve got two awesome musical stories this week, sandwiched around a truly incredible tale of a man who remembered a kindness from 30 years ago, mentioned it on Twitter, and well… I’m getting ahead of myself.

First up, TV star John Krasinski has started a TV show during the quarantine called “Some Good News,” and last week on his show he made a young girl’s dreams come true.

A kid named Aubrey is a huge “Hamilton” fan, and was supposed to go see the show in New York a few weeks ago. Of course, given the state of the world now, she couldn’t go.

Her Mom posted about it on Twitter, Krasinski saw it, and he arranged this magical sing-a-long with Lin-Manuel Miranda and much of the original cast.

Just perfect. A moment Aubrey will never forget.

**Next up, I’ve written about the awesome writer Chris Jones in this space before, someone I admire for his honesty, creativity, and humor.

Well, the other night something magical happened, something that made me put up with all the negativity and nastiness that pervades Twitter sometimes.

Jones began to tell a story, just because, and this is it in full. When he gets to the end, an amazing surprise happened:

A story about one of the greatest acts of kindness I experienced in my life. When I was 17, my little country high school, down to 60 kids, was closed by the board. I was bussed to a huge high school in town for my last year. It sucked.

I made a few friends, but I was quiet, bookish, and awkward; Pearl Jam’s “Ten” was still a year from saving me. I was so forgettable that, after, in that giant photographic collage of graduates that schools make, I did not appear.

One day I had a terrible cold. Bus ride to school was eternal. Blowing my nose constantly. I get to school. There was this preppie kid, Sean, who always made fun of my clothes. He once made fun of me for an entire chem class because I missed a belt loop with my belt. That kid.

I walk into class. He looks at me and goes, “What the fuck is that?” Points at my chest. Where, to my horror, I have deposited a giant snot rocket. I have missed the tissue and blown a booger the size of a corn flake onto my shirt.

” Is that fucking SNOT?” Sean yells, loud enough, of course, for the whole class to hear it. Readers, I want to tell you, I was immediately the temperature of the sun. Other kids gather around and laugh and point. High-school nightmare.

One kid, Pete Simon, comes over. Pete was always a good guy—not super cool, but popular because of his energy. Just one of those happy dudes. He joins the crowd and his first instinct, quite naturally, is to be like: Dude, that’s gross!

But then he looks at me, and he can see in my face, I guess, that I’m dying. Pete goes, “Guys, guys, that’s a piece of banana. Did you have a banana for breakfast, Chris?” And I’m like, “Uh, yeah! Yeah, I did!” Pete looks at Sean and goes, “It’s banana, idiot.”

Crowd disperses, I clean up my shirt, class begins. What could have been a defining incident in the worst way—I could have been Booger Boy forever—never comes up again. Until today, nearly thirty years later.

I graduate, almost grateful for the invisibility. Then “Ten” comes out, and because I can do a reasonable impression of Eddie Vedder, and the flannel shirts that country kids wore suddenly became cool, I find my feet. I get the chance to figure out who I am.

And in some weird way, it’s thanks to the kindness of Pete Simon, teenage hero of my life. I’ll never forget the look he gave me later, during class: “I got you.” I could cry, remembering it. Pete Simon. What a fucking champ.”

OK, so, great story, right? Only it gets better. A woman named Krista Ferrier sees the story and replies: “What high school? My husband is a Pete Simon and this sounds just like something he would do?”

And yeah, it turns out Krista’s husband is THE Pete Simon in Jones’ story. And Krista showed him the story, and Pete couldn’t believe Jones remembered that all these years later, and life is amazing sometimes.

**And finally today, some of the unsung heroes of this pandemic, as far as giving us amazing entertainment, are the video editors who splice together these incredible music recordings from dozens of singers doing tunes from different locations.

This is the best I’ve seen in a long time; the classic 1960s anthem “The Weight,” originally done by Robbie Robertson, with a whole lot of talented musicians, led by Neale Erickson.

Just so beautifully done. Have a great weekend.

The best college graduation speeches of 2017. A 6-year-old girl with cancer gets a visit from the Stanley Cup. And a fascinating discovery about an 11-year-old boy with autism, as told by his dad.

And a Happy Friday to you! Hope you are enjoying the incredibly long days of daylight these days (I know I am) and that you’re not going to be sitting in summer traffic this weekend (I know I am; the family and I are headed to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. for a few days of family reunion/nation’s capital tourism fun. Oh, the Beltway, how I’ve missed you. Hope to have a post up on Monday like normal, but can’t guarantee it.)

We start this week’s GNF with one of my favorite traditions of NFL writer Peter King of Sports Illustrated. Each year he puts together what he thinks are some of the best college commencement speeches of the year, and this year they’re awesome as usual. Not every speech will “speak” to you personally of course, but they’re almost always full of cool insights. Here’s a quick passage from one of my favorites this year, actress Helen Mirren, given at Tulane University:

Don’t over-complicate things. “Don’t procrastinate. “Do say thank you when it is merited. “Don’t lose your sense of humor.“Do confront bullies.

“Do open your heart to love. “Don’t confuse sex with love. Love generally lasts longer than two minutes. “Don’t smoke tobacco … or chew it. “Don’t dive into water if you don’t know how deep it is.

“And one more thing—don’t procrastinate.”

So many of these are great; make sure you check out Michele Norris’ as well.  (You have to scroll a bit down in the column to read the excerpts, FYI.)

**Next up today, there’s always a few wonderful stories about the Stanley Cup visiting a very worthy guest this time of year, and this one is as good as any of them. There’s a 6-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins fan named Darran Dunlop, and she’s been suffering from leukemia for the past year.

Last week, a Penguins equipment manager named Danny Kroll brought the Cup to Darran’s house, and this was her awesome reaction.:

**Finally today, I truly do think this qualifies as Good News, but some may not. Chris Jones is an immensely gifted writer, for places like Esquire and ESPN (I’ve written about some of his amazing work here from time to time.) Jones has an 11-year-old son named Charley (above), who is autistic. Last week on Twitter Jones told a beautiful story about Charley, after getting some diagnostic tests back about the boy. Read it through to the end, and realize how amazing a person’s capacity is. Charley, you are my hero, too.

Here is what Jones said (this was one long Tweetstorm when he wrote it.)

Charley’s autistic. That means he’s really good at some things, and really not good at other things. His brain is extremes. For instance, his memory is ridiculous. He often brings up things that happened when he was very, very young. He often brings up the time I was driving with him, and he saw a big truck with an Elmo doll on its grill. He wasn’t yet two.

But he has no comprehension of math, for instance. The passage of time. He would not understand that 1983 happened before 1996. He recently took some tests in school. He finished in the first percentile in math and in spelling. Serious learning disabilities. Those weren’t surprises. We know he can’t do math or spell. But the spelling has always mystified me, because Charley is a voracious reader.

I feel safe in saying few children read more. If you see Charley, he will have a book in his hands. We take his books everywhere.How can a child who reads so much, and so well (if he doesn’t know a word, tell him once and he’ll know it forever) be unable to spell?

Now with these tests we have our answer: Charley memorizes words. Not how they’re spelled, but how they look.He doesn’t sound out words and never has. He remembers the shape of them. Each word is a picture. It’s amazing.

Thousands of words, stored in his brain, stamped on it like tattoos. But asking him to spell them..That’s like asking the rest of us to draw a picture of a person we know. We know what they look like. But we can’t translate it.

The real question isn’t why Charley can’t spell. It’s how Charley can read. Well, my beautiful boy did what we should all remember to do. He took one of his strengths, and he used it against one of his weaknesses. He found a way around life’s obstacles.

Every time he picks up a book, Charley defies his reality. And he has a book in his hands all the time. He’s my hero.

My first Lamaze class proves enlightening (and scary). The Michigan politician with a sparkplug sexual fetish. And gorgeous video of Antarctica


Tuesday night the wife and I passed yet another “milestone” on the road to birthing a human and then taking care of it for the rest of its life: Lamaze class.

Technically, it’s called “Childbirth Education” class, and for the next five weeks, for 3 hours a week, my beloved and I will sit in a room with four other couples and learn how to deliver a child safely and without strangling each other in the delivery room.

With the caveat stated right off that “Yes, I know, you can’t really prepare for being a parent, you just have to DO it!” here are a few things I learned on  the first night:

— When your wife tells you she’s had her first contraction, go make a sandwich. Walk around the block. Watch the entire six hours of HBO’s “Angels in America.” But whatever you do, don’t rush to the hospital. Yep, contrary to what I’ve seen on TV all these years, early labor can take hours, and should be done at home. If you go to the hospital with contractions 20 minutes apart, they will laugh at you and send you out quickly. So I was told.

“Birthing ball” is a term I will get very familiar with. Apparently moms-to-be are supposed to sit on these exercise ball thingies toward the end of pregnancy, since it helps strengthen the pelvis and lower back, and helps turn the baby for easier delivery.

— I’m old. Well, I didn’t learn that in class, but my wife and I, both in our late 30s, were definitely the graybeards of the group. Hey, at least they didn’t offer us a senior citizens discount on the class or anything.

-Lamaze class feels a little like health class in high school, with all kinds of diagrams of the female anatomy and arrows and photos and stuff that generally you’d rather not see. Unlike in Mr. Stangasser’s health class in 10th grade, though, I didn’t spend most of Lamaze class trying to get the cute girl in the next row to smile at me.

Toward the beginning of class, Mary Lou, our instructor, said the goal was to get us new parents more relaxed and less anxiety-ridden by giving us all the information about what’s going to happen.
Not sure if she was looking at me and saw the terrified look on my face when she said it, but that immediately made me feel better.

And besides, those breathing and relaxation exercises can be done by the dads, too, right?


**Gotta admit, this is a new one on me. Was watching Rachel Maddow the other day and she mentioned this story, which I had to find to believe.

Jordan Haskins, of Saginaw, Mich., is a 24-year-old convicted felon running as a Republican for a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives, and it seems he’s getting no support, or opposition, from the county GOP.

Maybe that’s because as a teenager, Haskins had a long criminal record, mostly due to one of the most bizarre sexual fetishes I’ve ever heard of.

According to this story, Haskins admitted to police that he scaled fences and trespassed on both public and private property in order to take vehicles for joyrides and to facilitate a fetish he referred to as “cranking.” Police reports state he disconnected the spark plugs on a vehicle and then masturbated while attempting to turn over the engine.

I mean, seriously, this is a thing??? Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner, please move to the back of the line, your transgressions have got nothin’ on Mr. Haskins.

Spark plugs? Where does one even discover a liking for this kind of thing?

Lot of strange, strange people in this world.

**Finally today, some very cool video of a place we don’t get to see like this too often: Antarctica.

The AFAR travel guide company sent Chris Jones to the remote continent last winter, and he wrote a fascinating story, and shot some really cool footage, of how beautiful the place is.

Really gorgeous stuff.



Another insane weekend of NCAA Tournament hoops. Why kids need pets, in adorable photos. And “Jeopardy” turns 50


Man, what an incredible weekend in the NCAA Tournament.
I love the Tournament every year, of course; it’s like sex and pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.
But sakes alive (nobody says that anymore, do they?), the last few days have been sensational, even for the Tournament.
The titanic Virginia-Michigan State battle on Friday night (going on simultaneously as the Kentucky-Louisville thriller, and man did America’s remote controls get a workout there). Wisconsin and Arizona going to the wire on Saturday. Kentucky and Michigan trading buckets and playing a wildly entertaining game on Sunday.

A wonderful weekend of hoops, which leaves us with a Final Four of Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Kentucky.

Some scattered thoughts from my hoops-overloaded brain:

— I hate John Calipari. Loathe the man, everything he stands for, and just about everything he’s done in his long, sleazy career. I root against him at all times, even rooting for the hated Tar Heels a couple years ago when they played Kentucky.
But even though I think he’s scum, I have to give it up to him: He’s an outstanding, outstanding basketball coach. This Kentucky team lost 10 games this year, some to really bad teams (South Carolina?), but has played sensational ball the last two weeks. The Harrison twins, Julius Randle, Alex Poythress, all have gotten so much better. I hate to say it, but I think they might win the national title. Here’s the great Pat Forde of Yahoo! on Cal.

— Real happy for Wisconsin and their highly underrated coach, Bo Ryan (above). But man did those last five seconds of the Badgers’ win over Arizona take forever. I like instant replay, but to take 10 minutes on an out-of-bounds call is ridiculous. The refs screwed up twice in the final seconds, with a terrible offensive foul call on the Wildcats, then by reversing the out-of-bounds call.

— Sean Miller of Arizona, by the way, is now the “best coach to never reach a Final Four.” He’s tremendous.
— I know a lot of people bash him because he knows nothing about college hoops, but Charles Barkley cracks me up. Here’s him talking about Shaq:

— Michigan State. What a miserable performance offensively on Sunday. I can’t believe that Keith Appling and Branden Dawson played so poorly in such a big game, and even Adreian Payne didn’t play well down the stretch. Really have to give credit to UConn, tremendous defense they played Sunday.

— Rough day for the state of Michigan. Both big-time schools lost nail-biters. But Nik Stauskas can play for me anytime; what a scorer.

–Finally, not sure who’s going to win on Saturday. My first instinct is that Florida beats UConn, and Kentucky ekes past Wisconsin, giving us an all-SEC championship game in a year that that league was as bad as its ever been.

Whatever happens, it’s sure been a hell of a tournament.

**Sunday was a historic day in game-show history milestones: “Jeopardy,” maybe the best game-show ever invented, turned 50. (My personal favorite game shows?: Gotta go with tree from my childhood: “Sale of the Century,” (loved me some Summer Bartholomew) “Card Sharks,” and of course, “25,000 Pyramid.” Loved me some Nipsey Russell, too).

“Jeopardy”‘s brilliance? Watching it makes you smarter. I have no doubt that much of the useless knowledge I have in my head came from Alex Trebek’s 30 minutes of brain stimulation.

One story and one video to share to commemorate. First, the great Chris Jones of Esquire wrote a little piece about why “Jeopardy” is so great, and then “Saturday Night Live” did a funny parody called “Black Jeopardy” last weekend.


**And finally, because it’s Monday and nobody wants to be at work but so many of us have to be, here’s a little mood-brightener. Unless you hate babies, or pets, or babies playing with pets. And if you hate all of those things, well, get off my blog.

A site called hoperaised.com has put together 22 adorable pictures of kids playing with their furry friends. The photo above is my favorite, but really, they’re all pretty awesome. I love the one below, too.

Go ahead and click, I guarantee you’ll smile.



The federal government, back open for business. A brilliant story on the flight home from Dallas on 11/22/63. And a disturbing new high school rape case


Well Hallelujah and pass the champagne: We have a government back open in these here United States!

Yes, our brief national nightmare is over for now, after two-plus weeks of hundreds of thousands of government workers furloughed, national parks and other major pieces of society closed, and more ridiculous posturing in Congress than any country should ever be subjected to.

Happily and surprisingly, this shutdown ended with a pretty complete surrender by the Republicans, as even the wing-nuts like Ted Cruz and Louis Gomert seem to have realized that they weren’t going to win this one.

Some quickie thoughts on the end of a shutdown that never should have happened:

— I was happy to see that for once, Harry Reid and his fellow Dems didn’t back down, didn’t cave, didn’t move an inch. But as I said to a friend Wednesday night, “where would they have caved to?” Would they have agreed to repeal ObamaCare, to delay it for a few years, to do all kinds of the idiotic measures the House wingnuts were asking for?

— Also, all this talk of the Democrats “winning” is nice, but look at all kinds of discussions we’re having now. The sequester cuts seem permanent, we’re not spending ANY money to replace all the devastating cuts to social services, infrastructure, etc., and it would take an act of God to raise taxes in this country again. The GOP has pushed the debate so far to the right that just the Dems stopping them a little bit seems like a big victory.

— And before we all start celebrating, and I hate to throw cold water on things, but all the deal Wednesday does is delay the real negotiations for a few months. The debt ceiling and the funding of the federal gov’t only goes through mid-January and early February, so we might have to do this all over again this winter.
Now I can’t BELIEVE the GOP Tea Partiers will be stupid enough to try another gov’t shutdown, but no one ever went broke overestimating the Tea Party’s stupidity.

— My buddy Clay seems to think this shutdown, which has greatly damaged the GOP in every poll I’ve seen, is going to have a big effect on the 2014 elections. I’m dubious, though, because 2014 is a long way away and this country has the attention span of a gnat, and because all kinds of delay and obstruction can still happen between now and then.

So, we’ll see. But hey, for today, we’ve got Yosemite National Park (above) open again, so let’s be happy.


**Whether you like it or not, you’re about to be inundated with news about the the JFK assassination, as we’re a few weeks away from the 50th anniversary. There’ll be TV specials, movies (the new “Parkland” movie, about what happened at the hospital right after the shooting, looks interesting), and a whole ton of newspaper and Internet stories about it.

Obviously we can’t consume all of it, but if you read only one thing, I highly recommend this Chris Jones story from Esquire this month. Through meticulous reporting and dozens of interviews, Jones reconstructed what happened on the flight back from Dallas to Washington on Air Force One, when John F. Kennedy’s casket was on board, along with a grieving Jackie Kennedy, a stunned but suddenly-President Lyndon B. Johnson, and two rival factions of advisers trying to figure out what to do next.

What struck me most about the piece was how composed Jackie Kennedy was, how unsure of everything LBJ seemed, and just the incredible balance everyone else tried to achieve between grief, and acceptance, while the body literally lay a few feet away.

Truly an incredible, and unprecedented moment in American history, and awfully compelling reading.

**Finally today, you may remember the rape trial of a couple of high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio last year, where two boys got a girl drunk and then sexually assaulted her. The case, and trial, divided the town and attained the kind of national attention a city just doesn’t want.

Not surprisingly, another small town is now facing the same specter. Again, the details are disgusting: Teenage boys, 14-year-old girls, a whole lot of alcohol, and sexual assault (this one has the lovely detail of the boys dumping one of the half-naked victims out of the car and leaving her, completely drunk, outside her house in the 22-degree weather.

Maryville, Missouri is where this incident occurred, and Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel has all the gruesome details, including why the prosecutor there already decided the boys should not stand trial. Here’s an interview as well with the second victim

R.I.P. Roger Ebert, the greatest film critic who ever lived. And the Internet in 1995; remember this?


**I know Fridays are always repositories of Good News in this space, but it’s been a rough week; apologies for there being no post Thursday, but I was sitting shiva at my fiance’s parents house; my soon-to-be bride lost her grandfather at age 93.
While checking the Internet Thursday night I saw that Roger Ebert had died, and I got sad all over again.  I can’t write anything about him as well as anything he wrote, but I tried a little here.

There were a ton of Roger Ebert tributes all over the Internet Thursday night. None of them will match Chris Jones’ sensational profile in Esquire from two years ago, which I’ve written about on here before. But Will Leitch’s memories are terrific, and so was this piece from The Onion.

I think what so many people are feeling about the loss of Ebert is not just that he was a terrific writer; which he was, and not that he was just such a funny and entertaining man on TV and in interviews, which he was for so many years with the late, great Gene Siskel.

But it was Ebert’s humanity that really struck home. He was, by all accounts, a genuinely decent human being, who was much kinder than necessary on so many occasions.

Having never been lucky enough to meet him, it’s his writing that will stick with me the most. There may be nothing more delightful in the English language than Roger Ebert obliterating a bad movie with his prose.
Here’s a little sample:

On “The Brown Bunny,” 2003: “I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than The Brown Bunny.”
On “Armageddon, 1998:” “No matter what they’re charging to get in, it’s worth more to get out.”

On “Mad Dog Time,” 1996: “Mad Dog Time is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I’ve seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching Mad Dog Time is like waiting for the bus in a city where you’re not sure they have a bus line.”

But if all you remember about Ebert are his movie reviews, that’s a shame. In recent years, as cancer ravaged his body and made his face unrecognizable, he took to writing lengthy, beautiful posts on his blog at rogerebert.com.   

He faced his illness with courage, humanity and humor, and never once pitied himself at all. I leave you with what he wrote about his own mortality; it’s beautiful and simple and better than anyone else could’ve said.

“I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.”

R.I.P., Roger Ebert. The world has lost a wonderful soul.

**Finally today, I leave you with something a little lighter. I’m a sucker for these “time capsule” type videos about the Internet. Check out the first few minutes of this report about this new-fangled fad from 1995:

The married couple whose clothing has matched for 35 straight years. A very cool day with the Stanley Cup. And a 6-year-old makes the Spelling Bee finals

I really don’t even know what to say about this story, except that it’s just wrong, what this couple does.
Meet Mel and Joey Schwanke, who have been married for 64 years. That’s awesome, and God bless them for being married that long.
But the Omaha, Neb. couple have a bit of a different marriage: For every day of the past 35 years, the fabric of Joey’s tie has exactly matched the color of Mel’s dress.
Every. Single. Day.
They have, according to this story, 146 different outfit combinations they can choose from.
I mean, what can you say? I’ve heard of older couples who start dressing alike after being together for a while, but this is a little ridiculous.
If you click the link above, there’s a video of Mel and Joey, too. Highly recommend it.

**The Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight, and even though I’m sad the Rangers aren’t in it, it still should be a pretty compelling Finals. But the star, as it always is in the hockey playoffs, is the Stanley Cup itself. It’s the greatest trophy in sports, one I’m proud to say I’ve touched once (one of the best days of my life, truthfully).

Chris Jones, the wildly talented Esquire and ESPN writer, had a great story idea, executed well. He asked the NHL if he could borrow the Stanley Cup for a day, and just take it around his small Canada hometown and see people’s reactions to it.

What happens to Jones (and to people who touch it) is truly a great read.

**Finally, the first of what may be numerous posts this week about the National Spelling Bee. I am an ENORMOUS National Spelling Bee fan (it starts Wednesday, with the finals at 8 p.m. on Thursday night on ESPN), which I just explained to my fiance tonight.

I got a horrified laugh followed by a look of utter puzzlement from her, but hopefully no reaction that will make her give back the ring.

Anyway, the Bee is must-see TV for me every year, because A, I love seeing smart kids get rewarded by being famous for a few hours, and 2, because spelling is so horrendous among America’s children these days (believe me, I just finished grading 7th graders’ work for four months, we have a spelling epidemic in this country) and I like being reminded that some people can still spell.

Anyway, so the Bee is this week and I’m excited. Especially after I read this story, about a 6-year-old girl named Lori Anne Madison who is the youngest National Spelling Bee contestant in history. Lori sounds awesome, I hope she goes far!

Honesty in writing. The boy who fell out of the sky. And is Tiger Woods back? Maybe.

Two great stories to get you going on a Monday…

I have written here, a few times, how much I admire Chris Jones as a writer, and now as a blogger.

One thing that I admire about the blog is his honesty. Last week Jones, who writes primarily for Esquire, wrote a post about being upset and disappointed that he didn’t get nominated for a National Magazine Award (the magazine writer’s equivalent of a Pulitzer, basically) for a brilliant story he wrote about Roger Ebert.
We writers all care about awards, and we all want to be acknowledged and recognized for our work. Any writer who says they don’t care is fibbing, I think. I’ve been very fortunate to win a bunch of writing awards in my career, and each one has meant a lot to me.
Anyway, Jones wrote this strong blog post about being disappointed, and he took some heat for it in certain corners of the Internet, which I didn’t get. Basically he was being accused of whining and only caring about the work for the award’s sake, which is 100 percent NOT what he was saying.
Anyway, Jones followed up with an even better post, which says so much about what I feel as a writer.
He’s honest in his blog, painfully so sometimes, and even though I think I’m pretty honest here, I wish I had the courage to be as totally free and open as he is.

**Speaking of great writing, Tommy Tomlinson is a legend in newspaper circles, but he’s a guy who I don’t think most of the general public is aware of. He writes for the Charlotte Observer, and this weekend he wrote this fascinating tale of Delvonte Tisdale, a seemingly-normal teenager who one night went to the airport and climbed inside the wheel well of a US Airways flight right before it took off.
And of course, died at some point during the flight when he fell from the plane. This is a story that seems to make no sense, but Tomlinson does a superb job in trying to find answers to a very strange and sad tale.

I urge you to read it today.

**Finally, a few words about Tiger. I loathe the “sport” of golf, but usually watch one day of the sport every year, the final Sunday of The Masters, just because it’s the Wimbledon of their sport. But I missed it Sunday and caught some highlights Sunday night. Tiger Woods had a hell of a day, shooting a 67 and leading the tournament for a little while.
Every time Tiger does this at a major, people start wondering if he’s “back.” And when the hell he’s going to start winning again.
Maybe it’ll be now. Or maybe, as some are saying, he will never be “Tiger Woods” again. Maybe the whole women scandal has taken something from him, and he won’t ever be able to get it back. He also continues to act like a spoiled brat on the course, so all this talk of “change” from him didn’t seem to stick.
As much as I loathe the guy, it’s fascinating to see him struggle, after being SO good for so long.

Hal Needham, a guy I totally want to have a beer with. A great Rooney goal. And Chris Jones feels my pain

My semi-regular plea to follow me on Twitter. Hey, if you don’t like what I Tweet, chances are you’ll like something I re-tweet!

Have you ever listened to someone be interviewed and think “Man, I so want to go have a beer with that guy? Or just sit and listen to him tell stories for a few hours?
I had one of those experiences for the first time in a long time listening to Hal Needham, legendary Hollywood stuntman, on NPR’s Only A Game the other day.
Needham has been in like 400 movies, broken 56 bones, and is still going strong. He’s written a book, which is why he was on the show, but listening to him tell stories and answer questions is too much fun.
I always thought stuntmen had pretty cool jobs, but God it’s awfully dangerous. Now they’ve got computers and CGI and all that and it’s less risky, which of course Hal hates.
Listen to my new friend Hal Heedham’s interview here; trust me, it’s worth it just to hear the story about his stolen watch.

**I’m not a big soccer guy, but I can appreciate the brilliance of some of the plays made by superstars.

Wayne Rooney, who is as well-known for his soccer brilliance as his unbelievably foul mouth, did this against Manchester City the other day in a game. The timing, the skill, it’s pretty incredible. Enjoy.

**Chris Jones, who is one my favorite writers in the world, has a new blog which is quite entertaining. Today he wrote a post about a subject near and dear to my heart: The curse of having an ordinary byline.
Chris Jones. Michael Lewis. We’re both cursed by the commonness, you see. There’s so many of us roaming the Earth, and in our cases, writing stories, that it’s impossible not to have byline-envy. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a distinctive byline, like S.L. Price or C.J. Chivers?
I’ve tried variations of mine over the years (see the URL of this blog; I throw my middle initial in there), but never quite had the guts to go for “M.J. Lewis.”
Anyway, Jones has written a great post about his 10 favorite writer names ever. Check it out, and feel the jealousy burn within me.

A fantastic piece on Ebert, Boner Stabone missing? And 30th anniversary of “Miracle on Ice.”

I don’t link to enough great writing on this blog. I’m going to try do it more often, because in my non-blog life, I’m constantly telling the people I know and love, “You have to read this newspaper article/magazine feature/book.” I’m quite the nag, constantly emailing great stories.

My first step toward highlighting amazing journalism and writing is this Chris Jones feature in this month’s Esquire, on the brilliant, but cancer-ravaged Roger Ebert. I’ve written about Ebert before; the man is truly a brilliant wordsmith, and his genuine goodness and upbeat spirit shines through this piece. Ebert hasn’t been able to eat, drink or speak for years, but his brain and his way with words still carry him through.

Jones is a brilliant writer, and this is a wonderful article. Take 10 minutes and read it if you can. (I posted an old photo of Ebert above here, just so you can see how jarring it is, looking at him now in the photo with Jones’ story.)

**I know this isn’t a funny story, but I’m sorry, part of me had to laugh. If you haven’t heard, a classic sitcom character from my youth, “Boner” Stubone of “Growing Pains” fame, is missing. His parents are looking for him, and say they haven’t heard from him in weeks, and that he’s been depressed for a long time.

That’s not the funny part, of course. This is the funny part; Kirk Cameron, aka Mike Seaver, tried to reach out to Andrew Koenig through Access Hollywood Monday night. And Cameron’s final quote just slayed me: “Andrew, if you’re reading this, please call me. Mike and Boner could always work things out when they put their heads together.”

First of all, as one who watched nearly every episode of the show, NO, that last statement is patently false, Mike and Boner never could work things out.

Mike and Boner were constantly screwing up, getting in trouble or doing bad things to Carol, and it never worked out for them. Mike, Boner and Eddie (the Fredo Corleone of that group, quite frankly) were a bunch of bumbling fools.

And second, please, please, PLEASE tell me Kirk Cameron didn’t really say that. Please tell me he wasn’t trying to liken his old friend’s serious depression with CHARACTERS FROM A TV SHOW that the two were on together 25 years ago! In the tone of Chandler Bing, could you BE more patronizing there, Kirk? Ugh.

I hope Koenig is found safely, and that he gets the help he needs. And that he stays far, far away from Mike Seaver. And Ben, too; I never liked that punk.

One final “Growing Pains” thought: I’m going to say that between characters named “Boner” and Ben’s friend “Stinky Sullivan,” that show had the greatest nicknames of any sitcom, ever. Seriously, tell me what show beats that combo?

**With the hockey buzz in America hopefully growing after Sunday’s remarkable U.S. win over Canada Sunday (and I watched the highlight of that Ryan Kesler diving, clinching goal a few more times Monday, and still don’t know how he did it), I thought this might be nice:

Monday was the 30th anniversary of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” game. Here’s some original game footage from the ABC telecast. Gave me chills. Good stuff starts at about 1:55 mark:

And you can bet all the tea in China that the fantastic HBO “Do You Believe in Miracles?” documentary on that 1980 will be viewed by your blogger this week.