Tag Archives: ESPN

The anxiety of school testing day, from both students and teachers. And a World Cup announcer calls a blind date, brilliantly


Tuesday may have been April Fool’s Day in your world, but I’m here to tell you that I was in a NYC middle school all day and not a prank was to be seen.

That’s because Tuesday in New  York was the day millions of schoolkids, and teachers, had alternately dreaded and looked forward to: The first day of the state English test, the beginning of three straight days of seeing whether students had learned the new Common Core curriculum.

The feeling Tuesday was different, for sure; it was a school I had been at a bunch of times this year, but Tuesday felt a little strange. There was anxiety in the air, both from the students, who obviously wanted and needed to do well, and from the teachers, since New York, like many states, has started using kids’ scores as an evaluation method of their teachers.

Now … I’m not going to get into a whole screed about the Common Core, for or against, because quite frankly this is a public blog and I want to keep my position, temporary though it is as a sub.

I do think, contrary to many, that the Common Core Standards are needed and are a good idea, but they’ve been implemented hastily and teachers haven’t been given the time nor the materials they need to prepare student for them.

But anyway, enough about the test itself. My sympathies Tuesday were with the students. I don’t remember stressing out this much about tests when I was a kid; to see some of these middle schoolers Tuesday, you would’ve thought their life depended on the outcome.

I’m sure they all did fine. But 12 year olds shouldn’t be getting ulcers, you know?


**Finally today, this was hilarious. ESPN World Cup soccer announcer Ian Darke calls the “play by play” of a blind date. I laughed hard.

Good News Friday: Fireworks! Babies see 18 things for the first time. And a beautiful montage of soldiers and families, returning home

And a Happy 5th of July to all of you; I spent July 4th in a wonderful place again, on a dock outside the Chart House restaurant along the Hudson River in New Jersey.

It’s a fantastic spot to watch fireworks, and this year didn’t disappoint. The Macy’s display was incredible; the colors and shapes blew me away, and no photo I could’ve chosen could do them justice. Man I love fireworks. Hope you had a fantastic 4th. babyfirst.blog **This cracked me up and hopefully will you as well. It’s a video compiling 18 different three-second videos of a baby experiencing something new in the world for the first time. We’ve got brilliantly cute moments like “First Time Seeing Ice Cream,” “First Time Hearing and Seeing Fireworks,” and “First Time Drinking Out of A Hose.” Man, it’s a scary new world out there when you were just born…

Finally, with July 4th being a day we should all be thankful for our freedom, here’s a tear-jerker of a video from ESPN. It’s a montage of soldiers on their way home to see their families, and the happy reunions that ensue. Yeah, the Kleenex were pulled out on this one here at Wide World of Stuff headquarters…

Governor Ah-nold, revealed again as a dirty boy. And the new ESPN book spills dirt

There were lots of people in 2003, me included, who couldn’t fathom why anyone in California would want Arnold Schwarzenegger to be their governor.
He wasn’t that smart. He had no good ideas. He had a Australia-sized dose of charisma and charm, sure. But the man was repeatedly exposed as a sexist, serial groper of women, and even though California was in awful shape then (though now it’s in worse shape, of course), I couldn’t possibly understand why anyone would vote for him.

Well, eight years later, here’s Arnold. He left California in awful shape, and it turns out the lovely Maria Shriver left him after finding out Arnold cheated on her and has a child with another woman.
What a disgrace. And to think he got to lead one of the biggest states in the union.
The brilliant L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez, a Schwarzenegger skeptic from Day 1, has written this terrific piece about the former governor.
I read it and just shook my head. The leaders we choose aren’t always what we deserve…

**Next week brings the publication of a brand-new book about one of my favorite subjects: ESPN. Like many of you, I’m sure, I used to love the now-enormous media giant. And then slowly, slowly, slowly as it grew so gigantic, little parts of its soul started melting away, piece by piece, until finally last summer, in one of the low points of our civilization, they allowed LeBron James to hijack the network for one giant French kiss to himself.
Anyway, telling the story of the history of ESPN has been attempted before, but never quite to this extent. James Miller and Tom Shales, who wrote the fabulous book “Live from New York” about Saturday Night Live, have written the story of ESPN’s rise. They interviewed 550 people, and apparently there’s a lot of good and bad in there.
The good: Lots of creative, brilliant people worked there, including Keith Olbermann (who gets praised and savaged in this excerpt I highly recommend).
The bad: A culture of sexual harassment was rampant, and egos were out of control, leading to so many bad ideas.
As much as I’ve grown to dislike ESPN, I do love it for one thing: Its explosion led to so many more televised sports events. Which is a good thing for nuts like me.
Check out the book on Amazon here.

A reality show starring TSA agents. Some NFL Draft thoughts. And Jack Edwards goes on a bizarre rant

More proof that the people who run television networks are officially all out of ideas:
AMC is giving us a reality show about people who work for the TSA, the folks who do all the security screening at the airport.
Yep, the Department of Homeland Security ought to make for really compelling TV.  Or not. I can’t wait for 35 minutes of watching a man get screened at the airport, or a bunch of dogs walking around smelling suspicious packages.
Of course, there’s always the possibility of the cast doing like most reality stars and getting wasted and hanging out in a hot tub together.

Although, as the brilliant Amy Dickinson pointed out on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, it’ll take them a while to get drunk.
Because each cup of beer has to weigh three ounces or less.

**So I didn’t watch too much of the NFL Draft last night. Just didn’t get into it this year; most years, usually.
I did see some of it and read about it online, and have a few scattered thoughts:
— I love all the “experts” who immediately assess which teams did great and which teams didn’t. Like we’ll really know anything about these players for the next 2-3 years.

— I thought it was a wonderful moment when ESPN’s Suzy Kolber made Alabama star Mark Ingram cry by showing him an email from his dad, Mark Sr., from prison.
But then I realized how incredibly emotionally manipulative and staged it was by ESPN. Watch this from the 3:00 minute mark on, and tell me that doesn’t ooze fakeness. (By the way, Mark Ingram Sr. is in prison for financial fraud).

**My beloved Jets didn’t pick until the 30th selection, so it was a pretty stress-free evening. It’s nice when your team is good enough to draft at the end of the first round (where only the best teams from the year before get to pick). It’s a weird feeling, having the Jets as one of the elite. I’d love to get used to it. Pats fans, Steelers fans, this must be what y’all feel all the time, right?

**Finally, Jack Edwards is a hockey announcer for the Boston Bruins. But this post has nothing to do with hockey.

He’s gone on some bizarre rants in his career, and recently he yelled at a Montreal Canadiens player to “GET UP!”
He’s just a strange guy. I love that he loves hockey, but he’s so over the top sometimes that he’s hard to take.
Anyway, this 2-minute speech he gave at the end of the Bruins-Canadiens Game 7 the other night may be the most nonsensical thing I’ve ever heard. Seriously, try to follow it. It’s got something to do with the American Revolution and royalty:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Israel angers me again: Oy vey. A rant at ESPN. And a good Woody Allen movie (it’s been awhile)

Israel. Oh, Israel. You make it so hard sometimes for American Jews like myself  to defend you.

Like on Monday. Right when Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu was about to have a meeting with President Obama, an Israeli navy commando raided an aid flotilla and killed nine people.

Israel says it acted in self-defense. The rest of the world seems to disagree. It looks very bad, especially when you learn that the flotilla was carrying 10,000 tons of aid.

I’m sick of what certainly appear to be pro-active acts of violence by Israel. I know there are many Jews in America who will defend Israel no matter what. I’m not one of them.

I hope the investigation of this attack shows that the Israelis acted in self-defense. I really hope I’m wrong. Because this sure as hell won’t help any peace process that might ever occur in the Middle East.

**ESPN does a lot of things right, and it does a lot of things wrong. Monday it totally angered me because it refused to show live tennis from the French Open; instead, it showed taped matches that had been over for hours.

If you are interested in me ranting about this (and you know you are), click here for my blog on the French Open Monday, and scroll toward the bottom.

**”Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is one of those movies I’d been meaning to see for a while, but never got around to it. Finally saw that it was on one of the 47 Showtime channels we get (seriously, it’s ridiculous how many different Showtimes and HBOs there are), and taped it, and watched it Sunday night.

Pretty good, as I’d heard. I’d watch Scarlett Johannson read a phone book, so beautiful is she, but she actually acted quite well in this. Javier Bardem was his usual awesome self, and Penelope Cruz was terrific, too. Not sure she was worthy of that Oscar she got; I mean, she was only in a few scenes. But she was really good.

It was a well-paced, well-written film, even it if wasn’t all that funny. And it made me wonder: Hey Woody Allen, where the hell’s all this good stuff been? Woody’s made some dreadful movies in the last 10 years, and I’ve watched most of ’em (that one with Helen Hunt? And the “Scoop” movie with Scarlett? Just atrocious piffle.)

Glad to see Woody can still make a good movie, that’s all.