Tag Archives: David Letterman

David Letterman’s fabulous tribute to Pearl Jam. Fallon comes back to “SNL” and kills it. And final thoughts from a wonderful California vacation

And a Happy Monday to you all, we got back from our fun family vacation to Los Angeles and San Diego Sunday and while we’re all exhausted, it was an incredibly fun time (more thoughts at the end of this post).

Wanted to catch up on a few things I missed, and I’d heard this was amazing and so wanted to share after just watching it.

David Letterman seems to be slowly emerging from his shell after being out of the public eye following the end of his TV show. Last week, when Neil Young fell ill, it was Dave who got the honor of inducting Pearl Jam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a ceremony in New York.

The speech was beautiful, touching, funny and wonderful; whether you love him or Pearl Jam or both or neither, I think it’s terrific. An excerpt:

On being hypnotized by Pearl Jam’s classic “Black”:

You know the song “Black.” There was a period in my life when I couldn’t stop doing this [mimics the refrain]. Great. Now we owe them a lot of money. Honest to God that’s all I could hear running through my head. I kept wondering how many times does this refrain occur in the song. I finally had to go to my hypnotist to get it to stop [mimics the refrain again]. One night on the show I’m doing it and the stage door bursts open, in walks Eddie Vedder. He sings the song with Paul [Shaffer] and the band. Then he comes over to me and looks me right in the eye and he says, “Stop doing that.” And I was cured, ladies and gentlemen.

The whole speech is terrific, I highly recommend watching it.

**Next up, I never liked Jimmy Fallon all that much on “Saturday Night Live,” guy cracked himself up way too much and ruined some really good sketches by doing it.

But hey, Fallon has been a huge success as a talk-show host, and so returned to “SNL” over the weekend to host. This cold open they did with Alec Baldwin and Fallon and others was really funny…

**Finally today, a few more thoughts on our trip, which proved once and forever that we all really ought to move to San Diego:

— The highlight of the whole trip for our little guy was definitely Sea World; the excitement and joy he got out of seeing the dolphins, sea otters and sharks was indescribable; he squealed and laughed and said “Whoa!” so many times I lost track. They had a terrific “Pet Show Live” performance, too, with dogs and cats and other creatures.

I know, I know, the movie “Blackfish” talked about how horrible some of the animals are treated at Sea World. But we loved it and would definitely go back.

— I learned that if ever flying to Southern California, go through the Long Beach airport. It totally rocks. Small, easy to maneuver, rental car agencies right on site, just enough food options to satisfy, tons of outlets to plug into … just an all-around great airport. Highly recommend it.

— One thing my wife and I thought about on the way home are the casual lies we tell our children; a few times on the trip we told our little guy that a certain museum or park was “closed,” but really it was just that we didn’t have time to go there like we said we would. We went somewhere else, he was happy, and never knew the difference.

Casual lies, who do they hurt?

— JFK airport at 5:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday morning was way, way more crowded than I ever would’ve guessed. We took the red-eye from Long Beach to JFK late Saturday night and when we landed, man, it was like rush-hour on a Friday in there. Who knew so many people fly so early?

— Best meal in San Diego was breakfast on our final day. Richard Walker’s Pancake House, with pancakes the size of Lake Tahoe. Just delicious and enormous.

—  Finally, a shout-out to the JetBlue flight attendant who, after we landed Sunday, lifted up the car seat that contained our sleeping toddler, carried it 30 feet down the aisle to the gate without waking him. You, sir, deserve a raise. (Also enjoyed hearing the flight attendants on both flights make sly jokes about United and their recent disaster; they were also thrilled it wasn’t them who got embarrassed.)

David Letterman has a LOT to say, and it’s fantastic. A mom of a freshman college student sends the best “care package.” And Alabama co-workers do a beautiful thing for a hard-working young man

You know sometimes when you haven’t talked to someone in a while, that as soon as you see them you just start rambling and telling them everything for about 20 minutes, only coming up for air?

Well, that’s kind of how David Letterman feels about interviews these days. After having an hour each night to talk to an audience for about 30 years, the late-night legend admits it’s been a big shift to just talk to a few people a day.

In his retirement from TV, Dave has grown a huge beard, stayed out of the spotlight, and pretty much kept a low profile. Until now. He’s on the cover of New York magazine this week and the interview inside is, well, incredible. Dave just talks and talks and talks, and admits he sounds like a crazy person but he’s just so happy to be talking to someone again.

He expounds on Donald Trump, his own searching for new passions, and much more.

A couple quick excerpts, but I highly recommend checking out the whole thing here. 

On Donald Trump: I always regarded him as, if you’re going to have New York City, you gotta have a Donald Trump. He was a joke of a wealthy guy. We didn’t take him seriously. He’d sit down, and I would just start making fun of him. He never had any retort. He was big and doughy, and you could beat him up. He seemed to have a good time, and the audience loved it, and that was Donald Trump. Beyond that, I remember a friend in the PR business told me that he knew for a fact — this was three or four presidential campaigns ago — that Donald Trump would never run for president; he was just monkeying around for the publicity.

On Trump’s advisors:  I mean, how do you build a dictatorship? First, you undermine the press: “The only truth you’re going to hear is from me.” And he hires the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Steve Bannon, to be his little buddy. Bannon looks like a guy who goes to lunch, gets drunk, and comes back to the office: “Steve, could you have just one drink?” “Fuck you.” How is a white supremacist the chief adviser to our president? Did anybody look that up? I don’t know. How’s this interview going? Do you think you’re talking to a normal person here? Don’t I seem like I’m full of something?

On adjusting to civilian life after being a celebrity:
It’s still hard. I have trouble operating the phone. That’s the God’s truth. I needed a pair of shoelaces. And I thought, Hell, where do you get shoelaces? And my friend said, there’s a place over off I-84, it’s the Designer Shoe Warehouse. So I go over there, and it’s a building the size of the Pentagon. It’s enormous. If you took somebody from — I don’t know, pick a country where they don’t have Designer Shoe Warehouses — blindfolded them and turned them loose in this place, they would just think, You people are insane.

I love unhinged, completely uninhibited Letterman. Again, the whole interview is great.

**Next up today, I love this story so much, even if it does seem a tad cruel.

A freshman student at Westminster College in Pennsylvania named Connor Cox got a care package from his mother a few weeks ago.

He was excited to open it, as we all are when we’re in college and Mom sends stuff. Connor wondered if it’d be his favorite snacks, or some cool game or book from his room.

Nope! It was trash from the Cox’ kitchen that Connor had forgotten to take out as he’d promised he would, on Christmas break.

“I called my mom and we talked about it,” Connor told KDKA. “Asked her if she sent me the wrong box, because that’s how confused I was. But she said it was the right box, and I had to be held responsible for what I didn’t do.”

I love it! I feel bad for the UPS guys who had to smell that package, but Moms have to mold their kids whatever way they can.

**Finally today, a really sweet story about co-workers helping one of their own. In Oxford, Ala., 19-year-old Derrick Taylor woke up in the middle of the night, every workday for a year, to walk five miles to his 4 a.m. shift at UPS. Derrick did this to help support his Mom, who is sick.

According to this story, Derrick’s co-workers were so impressed by his work ethic and dedication that they pitched in for a life-changing gift that left the 19-year-old in tears.

Taylor’s fellow employees pooled together $1,100 to buy him a used Jeep Cherokee that ensured his days of 10-mile treks were over.

Co-worker J.D. Ward presented the car to Taylor in front of everyone on Feb. 22.

“This is a hard-working young man,” Ward said in the video. “He makes me emotional. This young man wants to work so bad, he walks to work from way out of town.”

The video of the co-workers giving Derrick the car is just beautiful.

 

In the Women’s World Cup final, the U.S. steamrolls Japan. Stephen Colbert and Eminem, kicking it on public access TV. And Manic Monday at Wimbledon is here!

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Well that was a pretty typical soccer game Sunday night in the Women’s World Cup final, huh? Very little action, barely a goal, ton of boring stuff…

Um, yeah. That wasn’t a soccer game, that was a track meet in cleats. If more soccer games were like that, I might actually watch the sport more than once a year.

With 15 years of built-up World Cup frustration, the U.S. Women’s National team unleashed holy hell all over Japan, getting revenge from the heartbreaking 2011 finals loss and just blitzing their opponents.

The score was 4-0 after 20 minutes, which is insane. It’d be like a football game being 42-0 in the first quarter, or a basketball game being 46-3 after the first period.

Carli Lloyd, who’s the new hero of millions of American sports fans and most 11-year-old girls (move over, T. Swift), scored a hat trick in the first half, and the final was 5-2, and the second half was basically academic.

What a wonderful moment for women’s sports. I don’t think this World Cup-winning team will get the incredible recognition and fame the 1999 team got, because of the circumstances in which that team won, that is was on U.S. soil, it got unprecedented attendance and TV ratings, etc. (Just for fun, I asked some friends who are soccer-savvy on Twitter Sunday night who would win if the ’99ers played this team. All said this year’s group would win.)

But this team is sensational. And deserve every ounce of attention they will get. Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, the legendary Abby Wambach… just great stuff.

Congrats, ladies. Take a well-deserved curtain call.

**Next up, Stephen Colbert continues to do weird and wonderful stuff while getting ready to take over David Letterman’s old time slot on CBS late night. Last week he took over a public access TV show in Monroe, Mich., and completely played it straight, interviewing the show’s usual hosts, and then bringing on “Michigan native” Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, and the two put on a hilarious deadpan interview, including Colbert asking him “Are you one of those slow-talking rappers or fast-talking rappers?”

The first five minutes are my favorite part, but the whole thing is great.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01: Venus Williams (l) and Serena Williams of the United States during their Ladies Doubles second round match against Kristina Barrois of Germany and Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland on day eight of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

**Finally today, my favorite tennis tournament has always been Wimbledon, which of course is going on now, and the best day at Wimbledon is always the second Monday.
It’s called “Manic Monday,” and not because all tennis fans worship the Bangles (though hey, if they were good enough for Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, they’re good enough for me.)

Today is the day when every player left in the singles draw plays, with eight men’s matches and eight women’s matches on top. It is fantastic and filled with great tennis all day.

Today’s Manic Monday is even more special because for the first time in six years at a Grand Slam, the Williams sisters will square off. I could spill barrels of ink writing about the incredible impact on sport Serena and Venus has, about how the younger sister Serena has far eclipsed her sister’s accomplishments, and how this likely is the final time the two will meet in such a significant match.

My e-migo Jonathan Newman has written a great piece here about the rivalry and today’s match; for me, even though neither player is my favorite, the historical nature and specialness of it will make it must-see TV.

Happy Wimbledon Manic Monday, everyone. And also, check out this terrific piece by Pete Sampras, wherein he writes a letter to his 16-year-old self. Really great stuff here.

Good News Friday: David Letterman gets sent out in style. Two adopted sisters meet for the first time, in a college class. And the Boy Scouts finally come to their senses about gay leaders

And a Happy Friday to you, wishing you and yours a wonderful Memorial Day weekend; it’ll always be special to me for all the normal reasons, but also Monday is my 2-year wedding anniversary, celebrating the best day of my life, when I made the best decision I ever made: Marrying the most beautiful and sweet girl in the world.

Want to start today’s Good News Friday with the retirement of a TV legend. David Letterman took the mantle from Johnny Carson and became the best, and funniest, late-night TV host ever. I loved Dave for the reasons everyone else loved Dave: He was smart, he was acerbic, he was a great interviewer when he wanted to be, and he was just plain zany. I never stayed up until 12:30 a.m. for his old NBC show because, you know, I was too young and had school the next day.

But seeing some of those classic bits over the years, you saw the genius at work. He took guys like Chris Elliot and Larry “Bud” Melman and made them comedy heroes, while taking everyday folks like Rupert Gee from the deli around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater and making them “stars.”

Dave was one of a kind, and I will miss him. His final show Wednesday night was a beautiful tribute, and he seemed at times genuinely overcome with emotion. The final montage, over a live performance by Foo Fighters, was dizzying and wonderful.

So long Dave, we’re going to miss you. I leave you with this: There were a ton of great tributes written about Letterman the past few weeks, but this one, by longtime writer/booker Daniel Kellison on Grantland.com, was by far my favorite. The “insider” stories he tells about some of the most famous Letterman moments (the Drew Barrymore flash, the night Madonna wouldn’t leave) are really entertaining.

sisters.columbia

**Next up today, this story sort of blew my mind: Two sisters, both adopted by separate families when they were babies, met for the first time two years ago. In a classroom at Columbia University,

Katy Olson, 34, and Lizzie Valverde, 35, were adopted and raised by separate families three decades ago — Olson in Florida and Iowa, and Valverde in New Jersey.

According to this story (and the video is great, too), two years ago, they wound up sitting in the same writing class at Columbia. On the first day, as students shared some stories about growing up, they realized their connection.

“It hit me, all the pieces just collided — kind of like a big aha kind of moment,” said Olson, who had been looking for her sister for years. “I was like, ‘Whoa!'”

 Another crazy part is that Valverde never knew she had a biological sister, while Olson did.

And now, Valverde is graduating. What a great story. Can you imagine meeting a sibling for the first time in your 30s? Crazy.

boy-scout

**Finally today, I’ve ripped this organization many times over the years in this space, so when they actually show signs of intelligent life, I feel I must give credit where it’s due.
Even if their actions are long, long, LONG overdue.
Yes kids, the Boy Scouts of America, long completely intolerant of gay scouts and leaders, is finally joining the 20th century. Just a few years after finally allowing openly gay scouts to stay in the organization, now the Boy Scouts president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said the scouts should end their ban on gay adult leaders.

Gates said that “any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”

Well hallelujah and pass the Merit Badges. Better late than never. That this incredibly intolerant organization has been allowed to “get away with” this kind of discrimination for decades is deplorable. The idea that a gay scout leader is somehow deficient in helping lead young boys is offensive on many levels.

Better late than never, Boy Scouts.

Bernie Sanders, not such a liberal darling after all on guns. Tina Fey hilariously strips down on Letterman. And the 5-Hour Energy people, not so charitable

Henrik.CapsGame6

Barely breathed from 9-10 p.m. Sunday night, as my beloved New York Rangers nearly gave me a heart attack but hung on and held off a furious Capitals rally to win Game 6, 4-3, and even their Stanley Cup playoff series at 3.
Amazing. Rangers were down 3-1 in the series, and now they get Game 7 at MSG on Wednesday night.  Henrik Lundqvist is the best money goalie in the world.
Man, hockey playoffs are the best… but not so good for my health.
On with the show…

For the past two weeks, since he announced he was running for President as, so far, the only challenger to Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has been riding a wave of positive publicity in the media, getting liberals like me excited that Mrs. C (shout out to Marion Ross!) will get at least a little test, and becoming more of a national name, a trend that will surely continue for awhile.

But late last week came a story that stopped me short, and lots of other liberals I know, short. Slate.com published a pretty scathing, but accurate, story showing Sanders’ very un-liberal voting record when it comes to guns.

Bernie’s not only pro-gun, he’s extremely pro-gun, vetoing background-check legislation and uttering some very NRA-approved comments after the Sandy Hook shooting. (“If you passed the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen.”)

Bernie doesn’t talk about guns much; he’s much better prepared and strongly on the left when it comes to economic inequality, our reckless foreign wars, and spending cuts.

This gun defense is going to really hurt him, and I’m sure it’s already lost him some votes.

I’m not ready to give up on him yet, because there is no “perfect” candidate. But I very much would like to hear his response to those who rightly see him as a big NRA supporter. I know Vermont is a very pro-gun state, and I know he’s elected to serve the wishes of his constituents. Still, his votes are very much at odds with most Democrats.

Will be interesting to see how he responds.
Meanwhile, is there anyone in the Republican party NOT running for President? So happy we’ll get all these wingnuts together on a debate stage soon…

**Next up, I’ll probably be posting of a lot of these “David Letterman farewell” moments until he signs off on May 20, because so many celebrities want to pay tribute to Dave, who I love.
Some of them will surely be touching and emotional; others, more like this hilarioius Tina Fey stunt.

Seems Tina doesn’t like having to always get dressed up when she does Dave’s show, so she decided to dress down.

**Finally today, my boy Jeff Pearlman is one of my best friends, and he’s done me lots of favors over the years, so when he’s fired up about something and asks me to share his outrage, I do my best to summon it. He wrote this post on his excellent blog last Friday, about the odious “charitable” endeavors of the 5-Hour Energy company, who make a pretty nauseating product (I tried it once and hated the taste).

It seems the company is running these heartwarming commercials saying that with every bottle of their yucky liquid sold, they’re making a donation to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a charity that helps children of deceased military members receive a 100-percent paid-for college education.

Except, if you look closer (as Jeff did), 5-Hour Energy is only kicking in ONE NICKEL for every can sold.

The ad is emotional manipulation at its finest, and pretty despicable that the company is painting themselves as huge supporters of this foundation.

Read Jeff’s much-better rant here.

 

A sportswriting memory, or: The day a team’s fans told the world I stink. And David Letterman, readying for a ride into the sunset

I had the great pleasure on Friday of speaking to a bunch of Long Island 8th graders, at their middle school’s career day (a good friend asked me to do it; she’s a guidance counselor at the school).

I love doing this kind of stuff, because I know how boring most kids find school, I know it breaks up their day and also, because just maybe, once in a while it inspires a kid to become a lawyer or a doctor or, in my case, a journalist.

Anyway, I got to telling the kids about being a writer, and about some of the great and not-so-great experiences I had, and told them the following story which I love to think about every now and then but have never shared here, a story which always makes my Dad smile:

In 2004 I was the beat writer for the Adironack IceHawks minor league hockey team, for the Glens Falls (N.Y.) Post-Star. The IceHawks played in what was the equivalent of AA ball, and in many ways their roster was the typical minor-league team: There were a few on-the-rise legit prospects (one guy I covered, Pierre-Luc LeBlond, actually made the NHL for a while), a few on-the-way-down ex-NHL guys, and then a whole bunch of middle of the road, mediocre players who were just playing for the love of the game, and still had at least some skill left.

Anyway, one thing that made the IceHawks interesting was their fans. Specifically, the fans in Section H of the Glens Falls Civic Center. These two dozen or so guys were the hardcore hockey fans; they knew everything about the team, the opposing players, the referees, everyone. They’d make signs taunting the visiting team, mostly crude signs but nothing too X-rated. Sometimes they were clever, and I knew a few of the guys because the fan base wasn’t exactly huge.

Anyway, one day during a bad losing streak I wrote a column and ripped the IceHawks a new one. I don’t think anything I said was unfair, and really, it wasn’t all that harsh, but this was a small town and the fans weren’t used to hearing a local team get criticized too much.

I didn’t get too much feedback from it the next day, just the typical “you’re the hometown paper, you’re supposed to root for our teams” nonsense you always get a little bit of.

Anyway, I was excited the next day because my father had driven up to Glens Falls for a visit. He’d never seen an IceHawks game, and was excited to come into the press box to “see me work.”

And so before that night’s game we walk up to the press box and look around the arena, and what do I see in Section H?

MikeLewisStinks.IceHawks

I was shocked for a minute. Then started laughing, and laughing, and laughing. I was more flattered than insulted; hey, they took the time to spell my name right!

And during the second period, there was this one, which I may have enjoyed even more…

Michael Pucks

Again: My DAD was at the game! He asked if this was a regular thing. I sadly had to tell him, no, it wasn’t.

And come on, I’m worth more than a few pucks! At least throw in some gloves, a pair of skates, and a few sticks!

I thought the whole thing was hilarious, and a sign I was doing a good job. Why? Because those guys got angry at what I’d written, and if they were that mad that they had to tell 5,000 people in an arena about it (OK, probably only 2,500 there that night), that meant I’d stirred them up. They were mad at me, but it’s way better than if they didn’t read me or ignored me.

And for the record? I gave those Section H guys a big thumbs-up in the next column.

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**Finally today, we’re just three weeks away from the end of the David Letterman era of late-night television; since the early 1980s Dave has entertained millions of us, and with his last show coming up on May 20, the usually press-shy Dave sat down for a fantastic and revealing interview with Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times.

Among the highlights, and I highly recommend checking out the whole story here:

— On retirement: “I’ll miss it desperately. One of two things: There will be reasonable, adult acceptance of transition. Or I will turn to a life of crime.”

— On his strange, different style he brought to late night: “I never knew if the stupider things we did or the more traditional things we did would work. I didn’t know if the stupid stuff would alienate people. And then, when I look back on it now, of course the answer is, you want to do the weird thing.”

— On his rivalry with Jay Leno: “I think people were curious to see what will happen? And we prevailed for a while, and I lost my way a little bit. Quite a little bit. “People just liked watching his show more than they liked watching my show.”

The new Chris Rock movie is not as good as the hype (but it’s decent). Darlene Love belts it out for Letterman one more time. And South Dakota’s hilarious accidentally dirty billboard

chrisrocktopfive

I took my 3-month-old to the movies the other day, which some of my family and friends have called crazy and others have applauded (Hey, the kid’s got to get out in the world, it was a rainy afternoon, and it was a fun adventure. He behaved beautifully in the theater, didn’t cry a peep while sleeping through the whole flick, and except for some difficulty on the bus, it was a successful trip.)

Was very excited to see “Top Five,” the Chris Rock movie being hyped as an actual “good” Chris Rock movie, and really funny and smart and sharp. Best movie of his career, the critics I trust said.

And maybe it was. But it sure wasn’t as stellar as I had hoped.

First, the good: There were some genuinely laugh-out-loud funny scenes, the two best being when Rock’s stand-up comedian-turned-actor, Andre Allen, goes back to his old neighborhood and meets up with Tracy Morgan and others, and a hilarious strip-club scene with cameos by Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler (Seinfeld works blue here and it’s awesome; he says a word in this flick that I’m 100 percent certain he’s never said on stage before).

The story itself is not bad: Andre is getting married in a few days to a reality-TV star played by Gabrielle Union, but before that he’s spending a day with a New York Times reporter played by Rosario Dawson, to help promote a new “serious” movie he’s in.

But so much of the movie just felt forced to me; Dawson’s “journalist” was the most unprofessional and ridiculous portrayal of a newspaper reporter since Drew Barrymore played a copy editor with a secretary in “Never Been Kissed,” Rock’s not that good of an actor so his attempts at seriousness fall flat, and the ending didn’t really do it for me.

Still, it did have some laughs, and probably is the best movie Rock has done. Honestly, it’s worth seeing just for the Seinfeld and Sandler scene, truly side-splittingly awesome.

**Next up, it’s Christmas Eve, and I’d like to wish all my readers who celebrate a Merry Christmas. May your stocking be filled with everything you want, and make Christmas dinner make you stuffed and happy.

There are a lot of great Christmas traditions out there, and I’m not about to say one is better than the other. But one I’ve come to love, along with millions of others, is the fantastic female singer Darlene Love coming to the David Letterman show a few days before Dec. 25 every year, and belting out a beautiful rendition of “(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home.”

Love has an incredible voice, she’s been wowing Letterman for more than 20 years, and with his show ending in May, this was the last performance for him.

Just fantastic stuff, gives me chills to hear how beautiful her voice is.

dont-jerk-and-drive1.w529.h352.2x

**And finally, this made me laugh pretty hard, because there’s still a 12-year-old boy inside of all of us.

The state of South Dakota gets a lot of snow and ice in the winter, and is trying to spread the word to drivers not to jerk their steering wheels to avoid accidents, thereby causing accidents.

So they came up with a public service campaign, putting up billboards and commercials, with the slogan: “Don’t Jerk and Drive.”

Somewhere, Bart Simpson is laughing his ass off.

Tales from 2 awesome days at U.S. Open qualifying. Letterman remembers Robin Williams, beautifully. And a terrific speech from a Little League coach to this team

Stefankozlov

I’ve spent the last two days out at the National Tennis Center in Queens, watching one of my favorite events in sports, and the ticket didn’t cost me a dime.

I’ve written in this space before about the awesomeness of the U.S. Open qualifying tournament, when 128 men and 128 women compete for 16 spots in the main U.S. Open draw (for those not familiar with it works at Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the top 110 or so players in the world rankings automatically get into the main draw of the tournament, while the rest of the spots go to players who get wild cards (usually up and coming players for the host country, or older players whose injuries have made them drop way down the rankings) or those who make it through qualifying, where you have to win three matches in a row to reach the coveted main draw).

It’s free to the public, you get hour after hour of competitive tennis (there are rarely any lopsided matches in “qualies,” because there’s not much difference between players ranked No. 145 and No. 165, for example), and you can get even closer to the court than you can during the regular U.S. Open:

Some scattered thoughts from my heat-fried brain after two days of tennis nirvana:
— My biggest takeaway from the two days was how physically brutal tennis is. I’d say in at least 50 percent of the matches I watched, at least one player took an injury timeout (in one match Wednesday, both players took simultaneous injury timeouts, which I’d never seen before.) Tuesday a promising young American woman named Sachia Vickery hurt her knee late in the second set and tried really hard to keep playing.
She managed to get the match to a third and deciding set, while barely able to move between points. During the points she ran and played her best, but she was in agony for a good hour out there. She finally lost and had to be helped off the court.
This sport just punishes your body when it’s played at a pro level.

— Got a real good look at the two most promising young American men to come along in a while, though calling them “men” really isn’t accurate yet; 16-year-old Stefan Kozlov (above, who looks about 12 if you just see his face) won his first-ever adult qualies match, while 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe, who I’ve written about here before, lost a close night match before a raucous crowd cheering him on vociferously. Both are outstanding talents that could win the Open one day.

— Another cool feature of qualies week is you never know when you’ll stumble upon major stars practicing to get ready for the Open, unannounced. Wednesday around 3 p.m. I wandered over to the Grandstand court, just to see if anyone was over there, and No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka was practicing with No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych. Two of the top 6 players in the world, playing a practice set just 20 feet from me.

— Maybe my favorite thing I saw in 2 days? A teenager walking around with a “Commack Tennis” t-shirt on. That’s my old high school! And man, we never had T-shirts advertising our Commack pride. I was totally jealous.

**Next up, David Letterman always is funny, but he also does a fantastic job with sad news on his show as well.
The other night Dave gave a moving speech about Robin Williams’ death, followed by a terrific short montage of the comedian’s finest moments on Letterman’s TV shows.

Watch and enjoy… Dave’s the best.

**Finally today, the Little League World Series has been going on all week, with Wednesday night seeing new Sports Illustrated cover girl Mo’Ne Davis and her Philadelphia teammates lose to Las Vegas.
As always, there are winners and losers in Little League, where millions of kids learn how to do both. But it’s losing with class and grace, and seeing the positive in defeat, that’s often hardest for kids to learn.
Which is why I loved this speech from Rhode Island coach David Belisle, who had to try to console his players after they were eliminated from the World Series. His words are beautiful, uplifting, and exactly what we want all coaches to be.

Ethopia’s drivers are the craziest I’ve ever seen. ESPN’s 30 for 30 on the Bad Boys Pistons was great. And Letterman does right by Colbert

Man, these Stanley Cup playoffs have been bananas. Your bleary-eyed blogger was mesmerized by Columbus’ huge comeback win in OT, and Dallas-Anaheim and St. Louis-Chicago Wednesday night. Man, I love playoff overtime… as long as it doesn’t involve the Rangers.

We begin today with one of the craziest videos I’ve ever seen. It looks like it could be a fake but I can’t find anything disproving it.

This is what traffic looks like in Meskel Square, in Addis Abeda, Ethopia. (The video is from 2012 but it was just featured on website DangerousMinds.net)

Can you imagine the stress level of driving in these conditions? And there were no accidents in the video, that’s what’s amazing.
This makes driving in Manhattan look like a nice Sunday afternoon drive in the country.

NBA Finals Game 4: Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers

**I know I’m a few days late on this since it premiered last week, but I finally got around to watching ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary “Bad Boys” on the 1980s Detroit Pistons, and man oh man, it was fantastic.

Chronicling the rise of Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars and their gang of thuggish villains who also could play basketball really well, the movie is sensational in showing how first Detroit had to fail many times against Boston, before finally breaking through in 1989.

The personalities on that team: between Laimbeer, the perfect villain, Isiah, the smiling assassin (maybe the best under 6-foot player in NBA history), Dennis Rodman, back when he was normal, the super-underrated Dumars, the great coach Chuck Daly… the movie had it all.
It was fun to remember when Michael Jordan was a big underdog, and how hard he and the Bulls had to fight to topple the Pistons;  it was great seeing just how amazing a competitor Isiah was; he’s been such a joke and a disgrace in his post-playing life that you almost forget how good he was.

“Bad Boys” is engrossing, and fabulous. It’s on again on ESPN2 at noon on Saturday and on Sunday on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. If you’re a sports fan, it’s must-see viewing.

**Finally today, unlike the awkward and awful transition from Jay Leno to Conan O’Brien on “The Tonight Show” a few years ago, the passing of the torch on CBS seems to be going much better.

Two of my all-time favorites, David Letterman and Stephen Colbert, sitting around chatting the other night on Dave’s show, soon to be Colbert’s show. Really liked the first few minutes of this, especially… Late night is in very good hands, with Colbert and Fallon.

 

 

 

Amazon.com scares me with their newest breakthrough. The amazing Meryl Streep can do anything (here’s proof). And David Stern hits Letterman on farewell tour

amazon
I’m not exactly sure what the line is when it comes to companies knowing way too much about us on the Internet; the line seems to move all the time. Amazon.com, especially, keeps pushing that line further and further away, and we all kind of shrug. (Drones delivering packages to our house? Sure!)

But this thing I heard about this week might be going a bit too far. OK, way too far. Amazon needs to chill out with this.

Apparently the newest development at the company is what they’re calling “pre-shipment”, where, get this, Amazon will start shipping things you might want to buy soon to fulfillment centers near where you live.

Seriously, they’ve now patented some kind of fancy mathematical formula that will look at what you’ve purchased before, along with what you’ve put on your “wish list” and what you’ve clicked on, and then shipping that item in your general direction before you’ve even bought it. That way, when you DO buy it, Amazon.com can get it to you quicker.

My head hurts just thinking about this. How do they know whether I’m really going to buy the item, and isn’t it a waste of time and money if I don’t end up buying it? Maybe I fall out of love with a certain author, or an appliance I thought I needed I no longer to.

So on behalf of the world, let me say this:

Dear Amazon.com,

We love you, really. You’ve made our lives better in many ways. But enough. You’re getting a little too clingy and too into us. Please stop trying to predict our every move and action. It creeps us out. Thanks.

Hugs and Kisses,

The World.

**So I don’t know if there’s a human being alive who doesn’t love Meryl Streep, probably the greatest American actress of all time. She’s been nominated for 18 Oscars, won three of them, and seems to be a hell of a nice person off screen as well (I say “seems to be” because, you know, you never know. We all thought O.J. was a nice guy until June, 1994).

Streep is famous for being able to do any kind of accent or persona, so recently on “Ellen” the host asked her to do some crazy scenarios that would test even Meryl’s range.

She of course came through perfectly, and hilariously. I really laughed at the last impression here….

**Finally today, sports fans may know that NBA commissioner David Stern, just about the most powerful guy in sports the last 30 years, is retiring next week. I’m not going to launch into a whole “legacy of David Stern” thing here, because it’s pretty obvious how brilliantly he helped steer the NBA of Larry and Magic, through the Michael Jordan era, right through LeBron. Stern is a marketing genius, a power-broker extraordinaire, and he took a sport that was highly regionalized and to a specific audience and exploded it into the world’s consciousness.

Anyway, Stern is retiring next week, and stopped by David Letterman Wednesday night to read a Top 10 list