Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Hey Democrats: Way too soon to be burying Trump and being overconfident about November. A fantastic brain-teaser about great works of literature. And my favorite-ever video about awful Dad jokes

Happy Father’s Day to all my fellow Daddies out there. Hope your day was as enjoyable as mine was, when we had the family over for a socially distant afternoon of Wiffle Ball, food, and my mom kicking all our butts in cornhole, a sentence I never thought I’d write.

So you may have heard the current President of the United States had a rally on Saturday night.

It was billed as a huge, sellout “return to greatness” kind of rally for Mr. Donald Trump, but it was, to paraphrase Marcellus Wallace in “Pulp Fiction,” pretty f’ing far from great.

The arena was barely half-full, a whole bunch of teenagers seemed to have punked the campaign by registering for hundreds of thousands of tickets, and Trump was his usual blustery, nonsensical self up there.

And so, as was the theme in media leading up to the rally, a lot of what I read Sunday was basically this: Trump is cooked. Done. Finished. Biden leads in all the polls, he’s leading nationally, he’s leading in just about every swing state, and Trump is well aware the end is near. Get ready for President Biden, it’s just a matter of riding out these last few months.

To which I emphatically say: STOP. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.

It is June 22. This race is far, far from over. After the debacle of 2016 election predictions, when every “prognosticator” had Hillary Clinton winning easily as late as two weeks before the election, you would think people would’ve learned.

There is still a TON of time between now and the election. Trump looks finished now, but don’t you dare underestimate how much worse it can get. He will play dirty tricks in this campaign that would make Lee Atwater or Roger Ailes blush. He will do everything possible, just like an authoritarian strongman, to hold onto power.

And remember, this is Joe Biden we’re all pinning our hopes on. Biden could still screw this up in any number of ways: He could pick a terrible VP candidate (unlikely, but possible). He could say something monumentally stupid, which is what he does sometimes.

The economy could start to get better. Voter turnout might not be as strong as hoped. The vote-by-mail crusade to allow more Americans to cast their ballots that way could turn out to be impossibly difficult.

I’m just saying, there’s WAY too much premature dancing on Trump’s political grave right now. Way too much.

The man is like a mythical creature for a storybook: No matter how many times you think they’re dead, they still come back to life.

It’s June 22. There’s a lot of time left. There’ll be plenty of time for celebration on the night of November 3, if we’re lucky.

**Next up, my smart friend Kelly posted this on Facebook the other night and I’ve been showing it to everyone I know since (we had a great time with it on Father’s Day).

It’s one of these brain teaser games with 25 famous works of literature listed, but using synonyms for their titles. Your job is to figure out what each description refers to.
For example, I’ll give you No.1: “The Old Man and the Sea.”

Some of these were really hard and stumped me, and most of them are crazy-clever (No. 11 is my favorite).

Enjoy this brain workout.

**Finally today, I looked Sunday night for some new Father’s Day videos to share with you today, but nothing I saw was as good as this one I shared two years ago in this space. It’s a PSA from Australia in 2015, called “Dad Joke Survivors.”

It made me laugh really hard, again. I am a huge fan of Dad jokes, because of course I am. And these were so bad they were great (the constipation one is a particular favorite.)

America seems ready to explode, and I don’t know what will stop it. Two little boys and a hug: A palatte-cleanser for a Monday. And the airline that’s making you raise your hand if you have to pee

I’m a Twitter addict, as I’ve mentioned here several times. I’m on the site way more than I should be, and it usually provokes all kinds of feelings in me, both good and bad.

But I texted this to a few friends late Saturday night, after 20 minutes of scrolling through my feed:
“I’ve never ever felt more depressed and hopeless about America than I do right now. Just awful.”

What I saw was what I’m sure all of you saw over the last 72 hours: So many of our major cities under siege. Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix.

Police officers spraying tear gas, firing rubber bullets, and using an incredible amount of excessive force on protesters. Buildings and businesses being destroyed, cars being set on fire. So, so much rage.

That rage comes from African-Americans sick and tired of being sick and tired,  seeing so many dark-skinned men being killed by police, completely unnecessarily.

The rage is also coming, and don’t you doubt it for a second, from white supremacy groups eager to take advantage of the chance to sow chaos and destruction. Take a look at the videos from so many of these burning cities, and you’ll see a ton of white agitators. The governor of Minnesota said the arrests there last week were 99 percent of people from out of state, coming to stir shit up.

I feel helpless, like so many of us. I know that violence is not the answer, and that there are millions of people in the streets right now who are trying to protest peacefully, and their words and images are being overwhelmed and overshadowed by the small number of violent antagonists.

It is a horrendous time in America right now, with 40 million people out of work, a deadly virus that’s killed more than 100,000 of us, and systemic police racism and brutality that does not seem able or interested in changing.

Just so damn depressing. Some more thoughts as I try to process all this…

— From a Twitter user named Andi Zeisler: I’m old enough to remember two weeks ago when mobs of white people armed themselves to the teeth and stormed state capitals to cough on cops because they wanted haircuts and apparently that was fine???”

Exactly. How come when all those white folks in Michigan, armed with guns, stormed the state capitol, and literally forced the legislature to shut down its session, the police didn’t do a damn thing? How come nobody drove police vehicles into crowds of THEM, and they weren’t attacked or sprayed with anything?
Oh yeah, right. They were white.

— Look, I don’t want it to sound like I’m bashing ALL law enforcement. Police have as hard a job as anyone, and 90 percent of them do it so well, and with honor. So many of them are doing the best they can in an impossible situation.
But everywhere I looked this weekend, I saw police officers using way, way more excessive force than is needed.

— The rapper and activist Killer Mike gave a moving speech in Atlanta the other night, that I wanted to share with you. It’s eight minutes long, and it’s fantastic. The pain on his face, and in his words, are real. But so is the hope.

— Also very disturbing to me were all the reports of the media being targeted by police. From a Kentucky reporter live on air getting sprayed with pepper bullets, to other journalists being manhandled, to protesters attacking broadcasters… just awful. Sunday night a CNN reporter was allegedly struck with a baton by a D.C. police officer, even while holding up his credential to the officer.
This is what happens when the President and his minions spend four years telling you the press is the enemy of the people.
An excellent summary of all the attacks on media are in this story here.

— As for our President, who as usual has shown ZERO interest in being a national leader in a crisis, who could give two shits about anybody but his voting base, and who spent last week Tweeting insane and libelous allegations against Joe Scarborough and our former President, this paragraph from the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker pretty much sums up his entire tenure:

“Trump and advisers calculated that he shouldn’t speak to the nation because he had nothing to say, no tangible policy or action to announce, nor did he feel an urgent motivation to try to bring people together. So he let his tweets speak for themselves.”

That should be the epitaph of these four years: “He had nothing to say, so he let his tweets speak for themselves.”

Stay safe, everybody. I don’t know when any of this will get better.

**Next up, I feel like we all need a palatte-cleanser, and a reminder that despite all the awfulness of the past few days, there is still so much good in the world.

From the Twitter feed of a man named Travis Akers, two boys, of different races, coming together as friends for a hug.

Racism is taught. You’re not born hating others. This is a beautiful video.

**And finally today, a story I found amusing: To help contain coronavirus and encourage social distancing, an airline in Europe will now require passengers to raise their hands if they have to use the bathroom.

Ryanair announced the new measure on Tuesday, listing it as one way they plan to keep crew and passengers safe once they return to the skies after having grounded much of their fleet during the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline suggests that requiring passengers to ask before heading to the onboard bathrooms will help with maintaining a safe social distance between passengers during flights. “Queuing for toilets will also be prohibited on board, although toilet access will be made available to individual passengers upon request,” the press release reads.

So many questions: First, what if I really have to go pee and the flight attendant doesn’t see my hand? Used to happen all the time in third grade.
Also, I’m someone who goes to the bathroom two or three times during a flight, am I going to be denied permission like I used to be in third grade, because Mrs. Ross didn’t believe I really had to pee again, and I wasn’t just trying to get out of class?
Also, if my hand isn’t seen, can I impatiently squirm in my seat and stomp my feet like I used to do in school?

Getting permission to pee, on an airplane. We live in a strange new world.

Trump not enacting the Defense Production Act means he’ll have thousands of deaths on his hands. An Italian man hilariously “goes out” for coffee. A soccer player does some amazing juggling. And

 

Sometimes, you just have to do what your mother tells you to do.

Even when you’re 44, married and with two kids and spent much of the day trying to find your 2.5 year old’s favorite blankie over and over again.

So for days now the woman who gave me life has been as angry as I’ve ever seen her, about Donald Trump refusing to enact the Defense Production Act. And she has every right to be angry, as do the tens of thousands of people who will die over the next few weeks because overstressed hospitals don’t have the equipment, or the room, needed to save lives.

It is unconscionable, absolutely unconscionable, that New York governor Andrew Cuomo says his state (MY state) needs 30,000 more ventilators and got only 400 from the federal government.

“You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?” Cuomo said. “What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators? You’re missing the magnitude of the problem, and the problem is defined by the magnitude.”

Nurses are re-using masks, making DIY equipment and turning Hefty trash bags into gowns because this pandemic is spiraling out of control, and our President, with his head firmly up his derriere, refuses to compel all U.S. companies that can, to produce war-time equipment for the front lines.

And that’s what this is, a war, with hundreds of casualties already; the CDC website Tuesday night lists 44,183 cases in America, with 544 deaths, numbers that will go up immensely as more and more tests are made available.

This NYT story lays bare exactly what the slow federal response has meant for this pandemic, and the fact that Trump STILL refuses to enact it means preventable deaths that will occur over the next few months will not be prevented.

And this President sits back and puts ridiculous, unrealistic rosy spins on how things are going, talking about re-starting the economy by Easter while an Atlanta news outlet Tuesday night reported that the city’s hospitals are full.

So much blood is on this President’s hands. So much blood. And every doctor and nurse who has to choose which dying patient to save in the coming weeks and months has to do that knowing so much could’ve been done to minimize the damage.

**Next up today, I thought this was a pretty great little moment of comic relief. So an Italian man is arguing with his family because he wants to go out for coffee to a local cafe, and of course because of coronavirus they don’t want him to leave the house.

Watch as he “storms” out and where he ends up. Pretty fantastic.

**Finally today, sure there are no real sports going on right now, though my cousin Rob got me hooked on “Death Diving” on ESPN2 the other night, which is like cliff diving but into a pool and a lot scarier.

But hey, there are still great sports feats going on out there. This is Mabry Williams, a 14-year-old soccer player from Texas, doing some amazing juggling and finishing it off with an incredible flourish. According to her mom’s Twitter feed, it took her 20 minutes of trying to do this.

It would take most people twenty years. Eye-popping stuff. Go Mabry!

 

The unreal reality we now find ourselves in: Some thoughts as we all muddle through. A Broadway star makes an awesome gesture to kids whose school plays were cancelled. And the Final Four picks I would’ve made for March Madness

It has been a dizzying couple of days for all of us.

The news and information is flying so fast and furious. The fear is real; the panic is justified.

I have many thoughts flying around my brain tonight, and I’m hoping this makes sense to you. Because the many voices inside my head are telling me lots of different things lately. (Also, my sister sent me the above photo and I laughed out loud. It’s been really, really weird living without sports these last four days).

— Everyone in a position of authority is saying “stay away from people as much as possible. Don’t go near anyone besides immediate family.” And yet there are morons I see going bar-hopping all over the place, and gathering in restaurants. Young people, mostly, feeling so invincible and acting so stupid. Makes me burn.

–And yet, I need to share this with you: We did something Sunday that I’m sure many of you will disagree with, but I felt we had to.
My oldest, Nate, has become best friends with a wonderful girl who lives a few houses a way. They’re in the same kindergarten class, they hang out at the bus stop, and have weekly playdates. She’s a sweet, caring 5-year-old who truly cares for my son.

Several weeks ago her grandma (she lives with her grandparents and father) excitedly gave me an invitation to a birthday party for her granddaughter. It was going to be at a local bowling alley on Sunday March 15th, the whole class (22 kids) was invited, and it was going to be great.

Then, pandemic hit. And day by day Nate’s girlfriend’s grandma got more and more people changing their RSVP to “no.” Slowly the number of kids dwindled and dwindled, even as the party venue was moved to a local playground to minimize risk and contact.

By Saturday morning, the guest list had dwindled to three other kids. It was awful; this poor, sweet child was going to be disappointed. Do you remember how enormous of a deal your birthday was when you were 6? It was everything.

Anyway, I know we weren’t “supposed” to, and I know it may sound wrong to many, but my family and I went to the playground yesterday and for an hour. Nate ran around with his girlfriend, and two other classmates who also showed up. Then we went back to the birthday girl’s house for cake.

Was it crazy? I don’t know. But the thought of this sweet girl having NO ONE show up for her birthday party was too much for us to bear.

— So much of the major life changes that have hit all of us in the past few days have been talked about, but a few I’ve been thinking about: What will happen to blood donations? All over America there are blood drives and donation centers every day, and now, there will be hardly any. What will happen to patients who aren’t suffering from corona but badly need a blood infusion, and there are shortages everywhere?

— Another thing I thought about: “Regular” patients who get sick, are they going to be out of luck at hospitals and medical facilities because those facilities will be swamped taking care of coronavirus cases? This would definitely be a bad week to break your leg or suffer a heart attack.

— As for our President, well, he continues to be on-brand with his embarrassing, idiotic behavior. Tweeting out lies, completely refusing to take responsibility for anything, claiming things that are completely false (that Google is creating a nationwide coronavirus screening site, for example), he’s acting as he always does.

If our embarrassingly bad preparedness that will get Americans killed doesn’t cost him votes in November, nothing will.

— And yes, count me among those starting to worry that the Orange con man is going to try to find a way to cancel November’s election. If there’s a chance for him to do it to hold onto power, he will.

— Stay safe, everyone. We’ll all get through this together. So many more good people than bad in this world, so many. We’ll get through it. And try to be good to one another.

So of all the bad news going around the last 72 hours or so, this was by far the most uplifting, wonderful thing I have seen. One of the many, many consequences of the mass cancellations of schools, and public gatherings, is that student actors of all ages who have been rehearsing for months on their school’s spring production now won’t get to perform them at all.

They’ll miss the thrill and anxiety of Opening Night, of seeing their friends and family in the audience, the rush of being backstage afterwards, and the huzzahs and accolades from everyone they know.

It sucks. So Broadway actress Laura Benanti did something sensational Friday: She put out this Tweet (above) telling all the performers out there to send in video of themselves to her on Twitter, and SHE would be the audience they didn’t get to have.

The results were sensational. Dozens of people sent in videos, and my wife and I spent an hour last night watching them and playing “Name That Tune” (my beloved is a total musical theater nerd and got many of them right). These kids are dedicated, so talented, and are being robbed of a wonderful experience.

God bless Laura Benanti; this is such an uplifting set of videos. I posted one below, but click on her Tweet and watch as many as you can. These kids deserve audiences!

**Finally today, yesterday was the third Sunday in March, a day I look forward to (no joke) almost as much as my birthday every year.

It was Selection Sunday, the glorious annual event that has me getting out paper and pencil at 6 p.m. Eastern and hand-making brackets as they’re announced, screaming and yelling about this team being way over-seeded and that team being way under-seeded, and quickly trying to figure out which upsets to pick and which ones are too crazy to pick and it’s all just so damn fun for me.

But, you know, none of that happened this year.

Still, I can’t shake the addiction. So even though there are no real brackets to look at, and no tournament, I want to put on record the four teams I would’ve liked to pick today to make the Final Four.

1. Florida State: They’re deep, they’re talented, and well-coached. This was going to be their year.

2. Gonzaga. They’ve been flying under the radar despite being a Top 5 team all year, they don’t have the usual 1-2 NBA studs they’ve had lately, but the Zags are seriously good.

3. Seton Hall: The Pirates were solid for months, dipped toward the end, but are very well coached, have a superstar in Myles Powell, and I think they were primed for a big run.

4. Richmond. Really? Yes,  really. This has been one of the craziest, most unpredictable college basketball seasons ever, so why not the Spiders? They have depth, played in a strong league (the A-10 this year) and could totally have made a Cinderella run.

Sigh. We’ll never know. But we did get this fabulous video (bel0w) put together by a man named Max Goren: A “One Shining Moment” of the 2019-20 season.

It’s great, and it’s all we’ll have.

Final Four picks…

Another insane political weekend, with Trump implicating himself in a crime and a horrendous tax bill passed. You can’t stop Josh McCown, or those New York Jets! And the opossum that drank a bottle of bourbon (sure).

This was something we all talked about after last November’s election: Don’t normalize this. Don’t get numb to it. The Presidency of Donald Trump will be a real thing, rolling on day after day, and there will be so many things happen that had never happened before, so many things a U.S. President would never, ever say or do that now occur on the regular. Don’t give in. Don’t ever forget that this is NOT normal.

I was thinking about that this weekend, after two pretty amazing and horrible things occurred in our federal government. First, a party that claims to be fiscally responsible, wants to cut the national debt, and pretended to be outraged at how Democrats ran things when they were in charge of the Senate decided to firewagon an enormous 479-page tax reform bill through the Senate in a matter of days, without any kind of tax score, time for hearings, question or opposing thoughts. They completely lied about it being a “middle class tax cut,” when in reality it will benefit wealthy people and corporations enormously.

They literally were writing changes to the bill in pen and handing out those copies Friday night, forcing a vote before anyone had a chance to read it. And then, despite all of the rushing and lying and the alleged “opposition” to how Trump and the GOP Senate do things from people like John McCain and Jeff Flake (frauds, both of them), managed to pass this monstrosity of a bill at around 2 a.m. Saturday

It is disgraceful and disgusting, but it is what happens now. Then, because you can always count on our President to do something stupid, he announced on Twitter that he had committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

“I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI,” Trump wrote in a tweet.

In other words, when Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to go easy on Flynn, Trump already knew Flynn had lied to the FBI. So when Comey refused to go easy on Flynn, Trump fired Comey. That is textbook obstruction of justice.

Robert Mueller, I believe your case has been made much easier thanks to the madman moron who just can’t stop Tweeting.

Portrait Of Opossum On Field By Rock

**Next up today, I have been quite derelict in posting bizarre news stories on the blog of late, so let me try to rectify that right now. This one is a beaut: The lede from an AP story in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.:

“An opossum that apparently drank bourbon after breaking into a Florida liquor store sobered up at a wildlife rescue center and was released unharmed.

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge officials say the opossum was brought in by a Fort Walton Beach, Florida, police officer on Nov. 24. A liquor store employee found the animal next to a broken and empty bottle of bourbon.

“A worker there found the opossum up on a shelf next to a cracked open bottle of liquor with nothing in it,” said Michelle Pettis, a technician at the refuge. “She definitely wasn’t fully acting normal.”

OK, I have SO many questions here! First, the opossum “broke into” the liquor store implies that he/she/it, like, picked a lock and disabled an alarm or snuck in through a window ledge. How do we know the opossum committed a crime? Maybe the animal just ambled in behind a few customers and no one noticed, why they gotta already criminalize the opossum?

Second, just because Otto Opossum was next to an empty bottle of bourbon doesn’t necessarily mean he drank it, right? I mean, couldn’t the opossum have been framed by a rival, like a bunny or a mouse? Where’s the hard evidence, dammit!

And finally, look, OK, it’s not easy being an opossum. Nobody gives you any respect, nobody knows if you’re spelled “opossum” or “possum” and the career opportunities just aren’t there like they are for squirrels or chipmunks. You ever seen an opossum in a bear commercial? Me either.

So if the opossum needed some bourbon to get through the day, who’s business is it, huh? I say leave the little bugger alone.

This story is priceless. My favorite line: “Pettis says the opossum did not appear to have a hangover.”

Whew.

**Finally today, if you told me that on Dec. 3 of this year, the New York freaking Jets would still be appearing in those NFL playoff scenarios on national broadcasts, I’d have tell you to go get drunk with an opossum. But damn the torpedoes and pass the liquor, my favorite tortured football team is still alive, dammit. After a stunning 38-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Jets are 5-7, which is at least three wins better than I thought they’d be for the whole season.

Josh McCown (Josh McCown!) the 38-year-0ld quarterback, threw for 366 yards on Sunday, the Chiefs defense did all it could to help Gang Green, and the awful Jets D finally made a stop at the end of the game.

Look, the Jets aren’t any good but geez Louise, they’ve won FIVE games this year, which no one expected. Todd Bowles was a good candidate to get fired before the season began; now, dude should get Coach of the Year. What an unexpectedly interesting season the Jets have carved out.

Couple other quick-hit NFL thoughts from a pretty entertaining Sunday:

— The Jacksonville Jaguars are 8-4 and going to the playoffs. Yeah, I don’t believe it either.

— There are so, so many bad quarterbacks playing right now. I was saying to my friend Sunday after the Jets’ win, that everyone knocks McCown, but you know what, he’s in the top half of NFL starting QBs right now! That’s how bad the QB situation is.

— How’d that QB switch work out, Giants? Asking for a friend.

— Not sure who the best team in the league is, but happily we know the Cleveland Browns are the worst. It is really, really hard to be this bad.

— Finally, hey Gronk, this was total, total bush league. This is why NFL players have mush for brains when they’re 50.

I can’t ignore Trump’s disgusting remark about the media over the weekend. Remembering the late Jerry Lewis on Labor Day. And a blind football player gets the moment of a lifetime

It’s happened again. It keeps happening.

I tell myself to ignore the self-righteous sexist bigot in the Oval Office. I really try hard to just let what he says brush off my shoulder. I was having a such nice weekend, watching incredible tennis at the U.S. Open, most incredible being that a 5-foot-7 Jewish guy from Argentina has somehow made the quarterfinals (Diego Schwartzman, you complete me. And also I’m just about as tall as you), and then Sunday morning I came across this, from the leader of our country.

It’s Donald Trump, in Texas, talking in front of some Coast Guard rescuers. Just watch the first 30 seconds, please

I watched that and I was fuming. I’m still fuming. “Winds the media won’t go into, unless it’s a good story?”

There are so, so, SO many things offensive about that statement, and yes to steal from Dennis Miller, I am about to go on a rant here.

Journalists risk their lives EVERY DAY doing their jobs. Journalists go into war zones, they go into tornadoes and hurricanes and 75 other kinds of danger, danger that this privileged asshole with all his war deferments and excuses and having other people do his work wouldn’t know about.

“The media,” the people this man so disparages, actual, real reporters, have 5,000 times more courage than this buffoon. Reporters do incredible work under awful circumstances, and they pay for it with their lives.

Check out this list of reporters who’ve been killed while doing their jobs, in this year alone (44 so far).

These people, not you, you arrogant orange jerk, do dangerous things and go dangerous places to inform the public, their readers and viewers.

Oh and by the way, Donnie, the media WERE WITH the Coast Guard reporting on what they were doing. The media has been getting word out about trapped victims in Houston and surrounding areas, telling stories that need to be told, while you just fly in for a minute and say incredibly stupid shit like “They’re so happy, the people in the shelters, it’s beautiful.”

God he pisses me off, and yeah I’m taking it personally because journalism was my life and passion for many years and I know how many risks reporters take to get the truth out there.

OK, rant over. What an absolute disgrace he is.

**Next up today, it’s Labor Day, and as usual it’s got me thinking of school starting soon (not for me, but for my little guy, his first day of school ever is in a week!), autumn coming, but most of all, Jerry Lewis and his telethon. Jerry Lewis, of course, just died a few weeks ago, and what an amazing life he led.

He was a comedian, an actor, a philanthropist, and a tireless advocate for muscular dystrophy research with his annual Labor Day telethons.

Lewis was most famous, of course, for his comedic partnership with Dean Martin in the 1950s and ’60s. I know sometimes in this space on Labor Day I’ve posted something from the telethon, but today, a classic Martin and Lewis bit, just because it made me laugh and it’s from 1951 and it still holds up.

Enjoy.

**And finally, college football came back this weekend and of all the scores and games that may have crossed your mind, there was one extra point in the USC game that may have been the best thing that happened.

Meet Jake Olson. He’s a long-snapper for Southern Cal, and he’s blind. Born with retinoblastoma, a cancer of the retina, Olson’s left eye was removed when he was a baby. By age 12, he knew he would also lose his right eye.

But he’s been a part of the Trojans’ program for a long time, two years in fact, and has been practicing snapping constantly. So in the fourth quarter of their win over Western Michigan, Olson got a chance to play.

Perfect snap. Mobbed by his teammates. Sometimes sports are pretty powerful.

Fallon on Charlottesville is his best moment as “Tonight Show” host. The tennis player who serves both lefty and righty. And remembering the great Jim Murray, as always, on Aug. 16

There was, as always, so much going on in the news on Tuesday. I don’t want to spend 1,000 words venting about our President’s remarkable ability to continually compound his own mistakes and make them worse. So I won’t. Instead, a few words about Jimmy Fallon, who took a lot of criticism for having Donald Trump on his show last year and basically “normalizing” him, giving him the softest of softball questions and goofing around with Trump like he was some reality TV star (oh wait, he was.)

I think Fallon deserved a little bit of the scorn but he got piled on quite a bit. He’s always struck me as an earnest, decent guy who does want to please everybody. Monday night he took to the airwaves at the start of “The Tonight Show” and gave this heartfelt opening. Very well done.

**Next up today, it’s mid-August which means you’re probably going to be reading way more tennis posts on here than usual because, well, the U.S. Open starts in a week and I’m going to be covering it every day and it consumes my life for three weeks.

Anyway, in a tennis mood today once I saw this, which I’ve never seen before. A Korean player named Kim Cheong-eui is on the minor-league Challenger circuit, and he does something I’ve never seen a pro do. He serves righthanded serves in the deuce court, and then left-handed serves into the ad court. He also hits forehands with both hands, on both sides.

This is incredible that he’s able to do this, and do it well. Check it out…

**And finally today, August 16 always makes me thing of a few things: One, it’s my Dad’s birthday (Happy birthday, Pops!) Two, my birthday is tomorrow (turning 42 and not too thrilled about it, but being associated with Jackie Robinson and Mariano Rivera for a year, I guess isn’t too bad) and three, I think of Jim Murray.

Every year on this blog on or around Aug. 16 I write about Murray, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived, who sadly left this Earth way too soon, in 1998. I love running excerpts of his columns because they remind me of how brilliant he was, how beautiful his writing was, and how much of a heart this man had.

As always, here’s some Jim Murray, to give you some beauty on a Wednesday…

Here are my two favorite columns of his: First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing. Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snow-capped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

God, I miss that guy.

North Korea’s a huge concern, but throwing people off the voting rolls? That’s just evil. Another incredible young lady on “America’s Got Talent.” And Australian dolphins are suddenly gay? Sure!

Tuesday was another day in Trump’s America, which meant insanely stupid bluster and threats on Twitter, another country with a madman as leader (North Korea) threatening to attack the U.S. (and maybe actually being capable of it), and many people on Twitter wondering if the world would end soon.

So, you know, a typical Tuesday.

Of course we are all correct to worry that one of these two hothead heads of state will start a war. But I’m not all that worried; for all his bluster and macho BS talk, it’s not like Trump can just start a nuclear war on his own. There are lots and lots of layers of protection and checks before the U.S. launches nuclear weapons.

What I am worried about, and this is what I’ve worried about all along, is the stuff he and his government departments are doing that doesn’t get all the publicity. The stuff that he doesn’t Tweet about, that’s often where the most insidious, and awful stuff is.

For example, how about this: The Justice Dept., led by Trump frenemy (does he like Sessions today or not? I can’t tell) Jeff Sessions, has recently strongly backed the state of Ohio in a court case that would throw eligible voters off the rolls just because they hadn’t voted in the last few elections.

Let me say that again: The state of Ohio, and the U.S. Justice Dept., thinks it should be perfectly legal to eliminate and invalidate valid voters’ registration because they missed voting in a few elections.

I’m sorry. BUT ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME????

The genesis of this issue stems from Ohio passing a law that allowed the state to drop voters from the rolls if they hadn’t voted in the past three elections. The courts struck down this law, saying it violated the National Voter Registration Act, and the case is now before the Supreme Court. The Justice Dept. filed a brief supporting the state’s position.

And oh yeah, Ohio is a hugely important state in Presidential elections, and according to this story Ohio has purged 2 million voters from 2011 to 2016more than any other state, including 1.2 million for infrequent voting. (Let me stop right there. More than ONE MILLION voters have illegally been removed from the rolls because they didn’t vote enough. Not because they moved, or were felons, or anything like that.)

At least 144,000 voters in Ohio’s three largest counties, home to Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, were purged since the 2012 election, with voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods twice as likely to be removed as those in Republican-leaning ones, according to a Reuters analysis.

Absolutely despicable. Disgusting. But not surprising. For many years the data has shown that when fewer people vote in elections, Republican candidates win. So voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering and laws like this help keep voter turnout as low as possible.

The Supreme Court now has this case. That’s the court Merrick Garland should be on, but Neil Gorsuch is instead.

Worry about North Korea, sure. But the trampling of American’s voting rights should concern you equally.

**And now, a much-needed palatte cleanser. Once again I am blown away by a young person I’d never heard of, after their performance on “America’s Got Talent.”

Darci Lynne is a 12-year-old girl from Oklahoma. Shy and having trouble making friends, Darci’s mother got her a doll for her birthday two years ago. Darci decided to learn to become a ventriloquist, and this amazing performance is the result. (Thanks to loyal reader Sanford for sending me this clip.)

My jaw was on the floor the whole time. What a talented, sweet kid. (The performance starts at the 2:15.)

**And finally, this story, heard by me on NPR’s always-hilarious “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” was just too good and weird to pass up.

From the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper:  Scientists in Western Australia have observed large groups of dolphins engaging in what they described as ‘homosexual behaviour’ after the mating season finishes.

The team at the Mandurah Dolphin Research Project noticed that after mating season was over, the male Bottlenose dolphins were ‘mounting’ and ‘having genital contact’ with each other.

‘These dolphins, all but three of them juveniles, organised themselves in four subgroups in which they were observed engaging in socio-sexual behavior that included mounting and genital contact between individuals,’ Murdoch University’s Krista Nicholson told the Mandurah Mail.

All righty then! So many jokes I want to make here, but I think you’d probably like to make your own.

Oh, and if you think this whole story is here in the blog just so I’d have an excuse to run a clip of my favorite “Glee” line ever, well,  you wouldn’t be wrong. Take us out, Brittany!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Anger, joy, sadness: So many thoughts from another Trump-ruined weekend. A Monty Python video to make you laugh. And an epic Aussie Open ends with Federer and Serena on top

laxprotest-refugees

I really don’t even know where to begin.

Since Friday afternoon, when the current leader of our country signed an incredibly cruel, stupid and inhumane executive order barring citizens from seven nations from entering the U.S., and also inexplicably banned legal residents with green cards, until Sunday night, when I beamed with pride looking at all of the protests (and one big ACLU legal victory) across America at what that president has done, I’ve had so many emotions and thoughts running through me.

Fear. Anger. Sadness. Pure joy (that’s when I was watching the Australian Open tennis, more on that later). Frustration.

I don’t know how coherent any of this is in my head right now, but the only way I think I can try to be semi-intelligent on this is through some bullet-points thoughts.

So here goes, on yet another almost-unprecedented weekend (I’m imagining this is a little bit like what the mid-1960s felt like, and not I’m not equating the two eras .. yet)

— The first thing I could not get over Friday was how fast this executive order from the White House was implemented and had its effect. Do you realize that government never, ever works this fast? I mean, it takes days, weeks, months to get anything done, whether it’s legislation, or just a trip to the DMV. Yet somehow at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday the President signs a piece of paper and suddenly the entire federal government apparatus at airports and other border checkpoints springs to life and begins detaining anyone from those nations on Trump’s order, as well as legal green-card residents trying to get back into the country.

The speed and power of how this happened should frighten the hell out of any American.
One other quick point: I see lots of people calling this a “Muslim ban.” Trump is not banning ALL Muslims from entering the U.S. It’s not a Muslim ban. No need to make it worse than it is when it’s already terrible.
Besides, the full “Muslim ban” is probably still ahead of us from Trump.

— One of the many unbelievable parts of the executive order was that legal green-card U.S. residents were detained, including 88 and 83-year-old Iranian green card holders who were detained for 17 hours at the airport. You have a new administration refusing to allow people who are LEGALLY allowed to be in America access. It took 48 hours but the Homeland Security secretary, John Kelly, said Friday night that green-card holders should be allowed back in.

Wow, what a hell of a compassionate stance. Put him up for sainthood.

muslimpic-satire

— Two quick facts that help to illustrate how ridiculous Trump and Bannon’s “this will keep us safe from terrorism” bullshit is:

1. It’s worth noting that South Carolina born terrorists killed more Americans on US soil in last decade than terrorists from the 7 named countries.

2. There have been 3.2 million refugees admitted to the U.S. since 1975. 0.00062% of them committed terrorist acts, killing a total of three Americans.

So, you know, those are my “alternative facts.”

— The airport protests were fantastic, all across the country, Americans coming together to protest the grotesque and inhumane treatment refugees were receiving, and protesting that so many people here legally (there’s that pesky word again). I loved the passion, the chanting, the sheer “we can’t let them get away with this” attitude.

I wonder if this is what it’s going to be like for a while, every week a new Trump administration atrocity, and every week new protests.  As an anonymous Twitter person said Sunday: “If you’re looking for something to invest in during the Trump presidency, I think the poster board market is going to hold up pretty well.”

— So oh yeah, while everyone was rightfully pissed at the executive order, two other huge and awful things happened from the White House. First, and this is pretty inexplicable, the White House didn’t mention Jews in their statement commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day because, and I quote spokeswoman Hope Hicks here, “because we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all those who suffered.”

Wow. I mean… wow. Six million Jews killed, and you don’t mention them on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Shameful. The other huge deal that is getting less attention is that Stephen Bannon, the white supremicist (sorry, “nationalist”) who is basically running the White House has been named to the National Security Council while two other high-ranking security officials are told they can only go to some meetings. This is unprecedented, and wildly dangerous. For why, read this and get chills.

–Finally, I don’t ever wanna hear a Republican talk about a Democratic president overreaching, ever again in my life. That was the one of their huge complaints about Obama. Go ahead and tell me how Trump/Bannon aren’t acting like dictators right about now.

**And now, because I think we ALL need something completely pointless and hysterical today, I give you my favorite Monty Python sketch ever, the iconic “Black Knight.” I’ve seen it 100 times, still makes me laugh every time. “OK, we’ll call it a draw then.”

roger-federer-australian-open-final

**Finally today, this weekend’s Australian Open finals, as I alluded to earlier, brought me much joy. Sure, I was rooting for older sister Venus to beat Serena on Saturday morning in the women’s final, but it was a competitive match and hey, Serena is an incredible player and as I’ve said before, clearly now the greatest female to ever play this sport.

Sunday morning, my goodness, what a match. I don’t want to gush on too long about the great Roger Federer because this post is super-long already, but what a tremendous show he and Rafael Nadal, his greatest rival, put on. Five sets, back and forth, one of their best matches ever, plot twists aplenty in the fifth set, Federer getting down 3-1 and me getting pretty upset as I paced the room… and then somehow the Swiss master found a way.

The greatest men’s player ever won five straight games over as good a competitor as the sport has right now. Somehow, despite being 35, coming off a six-month layoff and being deep in the fifth set, Federer pulled it out.

There’s so much about him to admire, but how about this quote from Federer: “Tennis is a tough sport and we don’t have draws but if I could have shared it today with Rafa I would have taken a draw.
“Keep playing Rafa, please. Tennis needs you. Thank you for everything you do.”

We are so, so fortunate to be tennis fans in this age of Federer and Nadal, two supreme sportsmen who have a wonderful rivalry and are both thoroughly decent human beings.

Eighteen Grand Slam singles titles for Roger Federer. What a champion.