Tag Archives: James Corden

James Corden with a heartfelt takedown of “fat-shaming.” A hilarious obit from the family of a prankster. And NFL Week 2: Any healthy QB’s left? And boy do the Giants stink

It’s pretty rare when one late-night TV show host goes after another publicly on their own show. But James Corden, who I love, went after Bill Maher, who I used to love and now I just feel sorry for, last week on Corden’s show, and I applaud him for it greatly.

Maher, who was once a smart, edgy thinker who was very funny, did a stupid, thoughtless monologue at the end of his “Real Time with Bill Maher” HBO show last week about “Fat shaming,” and how it needs to come back, and be amped up. Fat people, Maher argued, need a kick in their rear to lose weight, and the rest of us should be constantly reminding them of it.

“Fat shaming doesn’t need to end, it needs to make a comeback,” Maher said. “Some amount of shame is good.”

James Corden, who like millions of us has struggled with his weight for his whole life, rightfully, and smartly, whacks back at Maher’s idiotic takes. Watch this heartfelt, so well-done seven minutes by Corden. I admire him using his platform for his, and shame on Maher (you said some shame is good, right Bill?) for once again showing the world has passed him by.

Bravo, James.

**Next up today, it’s rare you’ll ever read an obit as funny as the one a Connecticut man named Joe Heller had written about him, by his three daughters.

Heller, a master prankster and the life of any party he went to, died at age 82 on Sept. 8, and the obit is hilarious.

This is the lede to the great obit:

“When the doctors confronted his daughters with the news last week that “your father is a very sick man,” in unison they replied, “you have no idea.”

It talks about how as a kid he named his pet dog “Fart,” so his mother would have to yell that word out every time she was looking for the pup. It mentions how he embarrassed his family constantly and in many ways.

The obituary listed achievements such as being a “consummate napper” and a regular browser of collectibles at the local dump.

There wasn’t a road, restaurant or friend’s house in Essex that he didn’t fall asleep on or in,” Ms. Heller wrote, adding that her father “left his family with a house full of crap, 300 pounds of birdseed and dead houseplants that they have no idea what to do with.”

The whole thing is fabulous, a sweet, warm tribute to a Dad they loved dearly.

Who is now taking the ultimate nap.

— First off, what in the world did the New Orleans Saints do in a past life to piss off the referee Gods? We all remember last year’s debacle of a missed pass-interference call in the NFC championship game, that may have cost them a Super Bowl chance. And then Sunday, they scored an apparent touchdown on defense that was called back because of an “inadvertent whistle.” The NFL refereeing continues to be so, so bad.

— Quarterback down! Quarterback down! Actually, quite a few quarterbacks down on Sunday, not counting my future star Sam Darnold of the Jets, who this week came down with mono, so clearly those makeout sessions with the offensive line in the locker room had some deletory effects.

Drew Brees, hurt and maybe out for a while. Ben Roethlisberger, hurt and maybe out for a while. Carson Wentz of the Eagles, who finished his game Sunday night, might be hurt.
Rough sport, this football thing.

— My ex-father-in law, who lived near Buffalo for a long time, used to taunt me on the rare occasions the Bills were doing well, saying “You know Michael, the Bills are the only true New York team,” since of course the Jets and Giants have played their games in New Jersey for decades.

Well, after the first two weeks of the NFL season, the Bills are certainly the best New York team. Because they just got done beating both of the “other” New York teams, finishing off with a stomping of the Giants Sunday.
I don’t know if the 2-0 Bills are for real yet, because both the Jets and Giants are horrible this year, but I know Buffalo might have a good young QB and some playmakers on offense, and an aggressive defense. Let’s see how they do against some better competition.

— Football in Florida is putrid this season. The Jaguars stink. The Bucs are pretty woeful, too. And the Dolphins… wow, if they don’t go 0-16, something very surprising has happened.

— Pray for me tonight. The Jets are down to their backup quarterback, have a bunch of other injuries, and are playing a Browns team that got embarrassed last week and needs a win badly. This could get uglier than the shower scene in “Psycho.” (look it up, young’uns.)

Good News Friday: James Corden and Billy Crystal re-create a classic movie scene, perfectly. A little boy discovers the joy of jumping in puddles. And police officers in Washington rush to a scene of a snowball fight, and join in.

And a Happy Friday to all you cats and kittens out there (sorry, was channeling my inner Alan Freed there. Look him up, kids). Hope you are doing wonderful today and you’ve got your Valentine’s Day shopping done, always important to remember that day, fellas.

Lots of good stuff out there this week to make you feel better as we head into the weekend, but I have to start with this brilliant James Corden-Billy Crystal clip from Corden’s show the other night.

The movie “When Harry Met Sally” is one of my all-time Top 5 favorites, and it should be legally-required viewing for every American. The most famous scene, of course, from that classic, is Meg Ryan’s fake-orgasm scene in the deli.

Well, Corden and Crystal kinda sorta recreated it this week, and it’s freaking fantastic (they even got the detail right of what one of the other customers was wearing in the background!). I laughed really hard.

**Next up today, police officers in Duvall, Wash. showed up in the middle of a winter storm to a playground where kids were having a snowball fight, and got totally into the spirit of it.

I love this. So nice to see officers letting kids be kids.

**And finally today, one more video that made me smile. A Twitter user named Mikel Jollett posted this video of his son discovering the joy of jumping in puddles, and it made me think of the day, about three years ago now, when my oldest son Nate and I were in the park near our apartment, and I showed him the joy of leaping into a puddle and getting all wet.

He giggled and giggled and jumped into that puddle at that playground for about 20 minutes, and I will take that memory with me until the day I die.

I hope this kid, and my kid, never loses that innocent joy.

Mike Birbiglia’s “The New One” on Broadway is hilarious. A great James Corden/Lin-Manuel/Emily Blunt musical montage. And at Christmas, as always, the Jews eat Chinese food.

A couple of things today before we get into the blog: 1, Merry Christmas to all of you out there who celebrate; hope you get everything you desire under your tree. 2, Like I’ve done the last few years, the last two blogs of this week, and the New Year’s Eve blog, will be “Best of Good News Friday” posts, where I look at all the stories I’ve featured over the past 50 weeks of Fridays and post my favorites again. I get great feedback from you readers when I do it, and it always gives me something positive to think about heading into the new year. OK, on with the show…

Mike Birbiglia is like a great restaurant hidden away somewhere deep in town, or a terrific book that only some people have read.

What I mean by that is, if you know his comedy and are familiar with his style, you love him and rave about him to everyone you know.

But the problem is, if you don’t know him, you’re in the majority. Birbiglia is famous, but not like Louie C.K. or Kevin Hart famous. He can probably walk into most rooms and not be mobbed, but he also probably can get a good table at most restaurants.

I’ve been a Birbiglia fan for at least a decade, since I first started hearing him on radio shows and in TV spots. He looks unassuming and doesn’t have any killer schtick or gimmicks; he’s just really freaking smart and really funny.

I’ve watched his movies and seen him on countless shows, but until Saturday, I’d never seen him live. But when I heard he had a new Broadway show out this winter, I knew I’d finally get to see him live.

And so Saturday the wife and I saw him live, and I knew we’d have a great time at “The New One” when, walking to the theater 30 minutes before showtime, we saw the star himself going in a side entrance not five feet in front of us.

“Have a great show Mike!” my wife yelled out. “Hey thanks!” he yelled back. That was fun.

As I expected, “The New One” was fabulous. Ostensibly, it’s about Birbiglia and his wife trying to have a child, then what life was like once their daughter was born, and how the first year went.

But really, the show is just Birbiglia doing what he does best: Telling relatable stories and making them hilarious. When he says stuff like “I’ve played in small towns, towns that weren’t even towns, cities that were Applebee’s with a dream,” I’m laughing out loud.

Birbiglia is brutally honest about why he didn’t want to ever have kids (after listing all his physical maladies and emotional issues, he says to his wife “you really want to put more of this into the world?”), and then tears-in-your-eyes crying funny about the transitions he and wife Jen had to go through once the child was born.

Honestly, I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Birbiglia is a master comedian who should be way more famous than he is.

If you’re anywhere near New York in the next month, I highly recommend “The New One.” Or check out any of Birbiglia’s work on YouTube.

 

**Next up today, my wife is a huge fan of musicals and while I don’t, ahem, share that passion, I know millions of people do so I thought this was definitely worth sharing. And I have to admit, it was superbly done.

James Corden teamed up with the stars of the new “Mary Poppins Returns” movie, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, for a fantastic tour through great musicals past and present.

The “Into the Woods” bit is hilarious, as is “The Wizard of Oz.” Relax and enjoy and then try not to sing at least one of these the rest of the day.

**And finally today, it is of course Christmas Eve, which for millions of Christians means waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, delivering presents and devouring cookies (hey kids, isn’t Santa hefty enough? Maybe leave vegetables if you want Santa to live a long, healthy life).

But for us Jews, Christmas Eve means one thing above all: Eating chinese food. So as I try to do every year on Christmas Eve in this space, I give you the brilliant “Saturday Night Live” sketch called “Christmas Time for the Jews,” which is hilarious and spot on.

Enjoy that lo mein, my fellow Members of the Tribe!

Good News Friday: A kindergarten class sings “Happy Birthday” in sign language to a deaf janitor. Barbra, oh Barbra, does “Carpool Karaoke” beautifully. And customers at a donut shop do something beautiful for an owner and his wife

And a Happy happy Friday to all of you kick-ass readers out there. As we recover/rejoice/get depressed over this insane week of politics, with the Dems gaining a majority in the House (and still likely to get bigger, as more and more races get called), our President having a batshit insane press conference which led to his Press Secretary using doctored video to try to make a reporter look bad, and the world (God help us) looking at TWO recounts in Florida elections, let’s all take a breather and get happy.

(And by the way, don’t think it’s not killing me that I haven’t had the chance or the time to opine in this space about the Duke basketball team’s 34-point obliteration of Kentucky Tuesday night. Man oh man, if it hadn’t been an election night I might have subjected you all to a 1,000-word treatise on how freaking amazing this Blue Devil team might be. But, you know, I’ll save that for January or something)

OK, you ready for some Good News Friday? (Read that in a sports coach’s voice for the full effect). Of course you are ready for some Good News Friday, dadgummit!

OK I’ll calm down now. Let’s start tugging at the heartstrings with some amazing schoolkids. At Hickerson Elementary School in Coffee County, Tenn., there’s a beloved hearing-impaired janitor named Anthony James. He’s been there for 15 years, is described as “sweet” and “selfless” by the staff, and of course is beloved by the kids.

So for James’ birthday recently, the Hickerson kindergarten classes taught by Mrs. Allyssa Hartsfield and Mrs. Amy Hershman learned how to sign the words to the Happy Birthday song to surprise him. And surprise him they did.

Watch the fantastic video above, and realize just how easy it is to make someone’s day. Just pure joy on James’ face.

**Next up today, I am legally required as a Jewish person from New York to love and worship Barbra Streisand, but even if I wasn’t legally required to do so, I would. Barbra as a person is, well, complicated.

My two favorite quotes about Streisand from people I know have always been my father telling me, as a little boy, to listen to her sing “because it’s like a symphony, all in one person’s voice,” and a friend of my ex-wife’s once watching Barbra do a TV interview and then saying to me, “There’s no one in the whole world who loves themselves as much as Barbra does.” (She was right, of course, but the guy currently sitting in the Oval Office may have surpassed her by now).

Anyway, Barbra still has an amazing voice, and she went on James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” last week and was, predictably, awesome.

A nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn is still doing pretty good for herself, and that makes me smile.

**And finally today, another example of a small family of customers appreciating the small store they frequent, and stepping up to do something amazing.

For nearly 30 years, Cambodian refugees John Chhan and his wife, Stella, have been serving customers fresh donuts at their store, Donut City, in Seal Beach, California, near Los Angeles.

But a month ago Stella suffered a devastating brain aneurysm, and has been absent from the store.

Loyal customers originally wanted to set up a fundraiser for John to help with medical expenses, but John said no, he just wanted to spend as much time as possible with Stella.
And so to give John his wish, loyal customers have been showing up every day at 4:30 a.m. when Donut City opens, buying a dozen donuts at a time, hoping to sell out all of the store’s merchandise within a few hours, so John can go be with Stella in the hospital.

Stella is doing better, John says, recovering slowly but surely.

People helping people. If I lived anywhere near the shop, I’d buy a few crullers every morning.

 

The great Roger Federer leaves me in awe again, and three cheers for Caroline Wozniacki, finally a Slam winner. And my annual Grammy thoughts from a has-been music fan

For 99 percent of professional tennis players, winning a Grand Slam title is the absolute pinnacle of their careers. So many thousands of hours of practice, sweat and tears, so many close calls and near-misses, so many injuries they’ve fought through and bad luck they’ve endured, and then one day, miraculously, they’re the last player standing, they’re holding the trophy and it’s all been worth it.

Ninety-nine percent of tennis players would kill to experience winning one Grand Slam.

Roger Federer has now won 20. And that is mind-boggling.

I know, I know, that’s very simplistic to put it like that, but it’s just one way of thinking about how amazing this 36-year-old Swiss master is. Sunday in Melbourne, Australia, he won yet another Slam title, beating Marin Cilic in five sets to win the Australian Open.

The man defies description. He goes five years between Grand Slam titles, and looks for all the world to be a man on his way out of the sport. People are calling for Federer to retire, to ride off into the sunset, all that jazz. Mind you, he was STILL in the Top 10 in the world, still playing deep into majors. But he was no longer the dominant, best-of-all-time force he once was, and so he must be told to quit.

Then, amazingly, after a six-month injury absence, he comes to Australia a year ago and wins. Then wins Wimbledon. And now wins another Aussie Open. And still gets so emotional at winning that this is his reaction in the on-court speech immediately following.

He is class personified, and I’m thrilled that he’s back on top. Twenty major titles. Just amazing.

Also a quick shout-out to Caroline Wozniacki, a fantastic player who for almost 10 years has chased a Grand Slam title that eluded her. Her career looked to be on the downswing a few years ago, but she kept fighting and finally this weekend won her first major title. Wozniacki has always struck me as a class act, always gracious in defeat and a kind person off the court. Very happy to see her finally get her moment.

*Finally today, Sunday night was, of course the Grammys, and as usual I had heard very little of the music that was performed and awarded. But as always, that doesn’t stop me from having opinions. I must admit up front I didn’t have time to watch the whole show, but skipped around.

— Kendrick Lamar, I only watch you once a year, because I’m still stuck in the 1980s, musically. But damn, you are a pretty kick-ass performer.

— Very nice and touching performance by four country music artists with their rendition of “Tears in Heaven” to honor those who died in the Las Vegas shooting massacre. Glad that was honored and talked about.

— U2’s performance was, of course, amazing, with the Statue of Liberty in the background and a song “Get Out of Your Own Way” that fits the times.

— Ke$ha and Cyndi Lauper and Co. were also fantastic. Lot of great live performances at the Grammys this year.

— Pink is amazing, which I have said on this blog many, many times. Whether she’s dangling off the side of a building and singing like she did last year, nor simply standing on stage and belting out one hell of a song like she did Sunday night, that woman is truly sensational. So pumped to see her again on her current tour; the wife and I got tickets to an April show in New York. She is so incredible.

— Logic, another musician I did not know, did a powerful performance of a song written to make a suicide-prevention hotline phone number more visible.  Also enjoyed him telling people from all over the world that ‘you are not from shithole countries,” though it’s sad CBS bleeped it out.

— Miley Cyrus and Elton John doing “Tiny Dancer” was sensational; with all of her ridiculous behavior you forget just how incredible a talent Miley is. But she was fabulous here.

— Am I the only one who didn’t know there was still a “Best Comedy Album” Grammy? Man did they play that up a lot during the show; who really cares about comedy at the Grammys?

— That James Corden, Sting and Shaggy sketch on the New York City subways. Groan, groan, groan. Just bad.

— Finally, I don’t know who Logic is, but that was a pretty fantastic little speech he gave at the end of his performance. Proud to see so many artists speak up about the atrocities this President and his allies are committing.

 

A sorority in Michigan puts out a horrific anti-Semitic V-day card. “SNL” and Melissa McCarthy score again. And thoughts on a politically-charged Grammys dominated by Adele

There is so much going on in America right now, politically and socially, that sometimes I feel like we can’t process at all.

There’s so much wrong, and so many lies and such deep hatred emanating from the White House and those who support it, that sometimes I feel like things slide and don’t get the attention it deserves.

So in my tiny corner of the Internet today, I wanted to say how absolutely revolted I am by this story, and how it’s just a mere pebble to a larger boulder of a trend: Anti-Semitism is getting worse and worse in America.

The Central Michigan University College Republicans hosted a Valentine’s Day party last Wednesday night; at the party, they distributed gift bags to all attendees.

In those gift bags was a Valentine’s Day card so hideous, so horrendous… Just look at it.

centralmichigan-vday

Words fail me. That is 14,000 kinds of wrong.

Of course the College Republicans of CMU apologized profusely, claimed that it was some “unauthorized” person who unbeknownst to them put those cards i people’s bags, yada yada yada. Maybe they’re telling the truth, but it smells like bullshit to me.

Anti-Semitism has always been around, you don’t have to tell any Jewish person that. But over the past year, ever since a certain bigoted a-hole began running for President and doing stuff like running ads with pictures of Hillary Clinton and talking about money and putting a Jewish star on the ad (real subtle, Donald), things seem to be getting worse.

There were many, many stories around Hanukkah time of menorahs being destroyed, synagogues being vandalized, and blatant anti-Semitism in many forms. You going to tell me it’s just a coincidence that all this is getting worse since a man who actually became President has a white supremicist and anti-Semite running his campaign and now, his White House?

It is disgusting, it is scary, and it needs to be called out every single time it happens.

Shame on the Central Michigan College Republicans, and shame on the millions of Americans who excused the anti-Semitism of the current administration.

Sadly, this shit doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

**And now, on a lighter note… “Saturday Night Live” did a pretty sexist and awful KellyAnne Conway sketch this week (I’m not going to link to it and give it more clicks, you can find it if you want to), but they absolutely hit a home run again with Melissa McCarthy as White House press secretary Sean Spicer. “The People’s Court” bit is hilarious, and the last 30 seconds are my favorite part, but her saying the word “Orlan-ta.” had me burst out laughing.

Melissa McCarthy may have to become a permanent cast member, she’s too damn good in this role…

beyonce-grammys-20171

**Finally today, every year I spend 364 or so days ignoring popular music of all genres, stuck in the 1980s and ’90s that I am, then spend one night watching the Grammys and catching up and asking my much-cooler, hipper wife to explain stuff to me (Hey, it works for us.)

Some thoughts from what was a pretty powerful and politically-charged, but sometimes boring, Grammys:

— So Adele won everything and she was absolutely charming as always, whether it was when she stopped her tribute performance to George Michael to start it over because there was a screwup (and then she cursed on live TV which is always fun), or when she basically bowed down to Beyonce and apologized for winning Record and Album of the Year. As I’ve said, I know nothing about current music but it seems the Internet lost its mind that Adele beat Beyonce.

— Beyonce was pretty stunning in her visual and artistic performance; pregnant with twins, she still put on an amazing show.
Seriously, I know she’s called Queen Bey and all that, but can we actually elect her Queen of America?

— The political protests from the stage were expected, because music has always been such an important way to spread messages of resistance. A Tribe Called Quest was pretty on point, calling the President “President Agent Orange” and then parading to the stage a variety of regular people from all different faiths and nationalities. Katy Perry, who I’m not usually a fan of, dropped a fantastic performance as well, and Jennifer Lopez quoting Toni Morrison? Didn’t see that one coming.

brunomars-prince

— The Prince tribute was the highlight of the whole show for me, which I knew it would be. Bruno Mars doing “Let’s Go Crazy?” Well done, sir.

— Speaking of J-Lo, she looked great but she’s coming dangerously close to John Boehner’s skin color. There is such a thing as TOO much bronzing and tanning.

— Literally nothing can get me to change the channel faster than “An All-Star Tribute to the Bee Gees!”

— For old fogies like me, seeing the James Corden “Carpool Karaoke” bit with so many artists singing “Sweet Caroline” along with Neil Diamond was pretty fun.

— Also, I had no idea who they were before Sunday night, but Twenty One Pilots coming up to accept their Grammy award with no pants on was pretty fabulous.

— Finally, Lady Gaga and Metallica was a glorious train wreck. As my wife astutely put it, “Gaga looked like she was a Metallica groupie.”

 

 

The most powerful and stunning commercial of the year. I take in Duke basketball at MSG and am really excited. And Corden and Kendrick make more TV magic

It takes so much. It takes so much to really shock people anymore, especially with a short public service commercial intended to help change minds on an issue that seems so intractable.

This is the most powerful ad I’ve seen in a long, long time. I don’t want to tell you what it’s about, because I don’t want to blunt the force of it.

Just please take a few minutes and watch until the end. Just an amazing, amazing ad.

It was put out by a group called Sandy Hook Promise, and its devastating message will hopefully sink in. The students who are being ignored are the ones who need our help the most.

**Next up today, you people should know by now that I love, love, love me some Anna Kendrick (definitely on my Ross Gellar-approved “laminated” list of celebrities my wife will let me be with should, you know, the opportunity arise), and I do love some James Corden and Billy Eichner, so there was no way I’d miss this little musical number they did on Corden’s show last week.

Really funny and great.

tatumjaysonchuckliddy

**Finally today, I went to Madison Square Garden Tuesday night to watch my beloved Duke men’s basketball team play Florida. I saw the Duke-Kansas game at MSG a few weeks ago, but the Blue Devils were very shorthanded in that one, three of the stud freshmen who are supposed to lead Duke back to the Final Four were all hurt. (Gotta say, though, that the atmosphere at MSG that night, with Duke-Kansas and Kentucky-Michigan St. playing a doubleheader, was the best environment for hoops I’ve ever seen at MSG. Crowd was nuts.)

Tuesday night Duke finally had most of its freshmen playing, and … man, was I impressed. Florida is a legit Top 20 team, and Duke had to play really well to beat them, by 10, 74-64.

It was only the second college game for superstar freshman Jayson Tatum, and man oh man was he great. He started slow but came on strong in the second half, scoring 16 points. Guy is 6-9, can shoot, dribble, rebound and score in traffic. He dominated stretches of the game, and he’s not even in game shape yet. He’s going to be so much fun to watch this season.

This Duke team, with the freshmen like Tatum, Marques Bolden and hopefully Harry Giles healthy, could be all kinds of scary. I know everyone reading this probably hates Duke, but as a Duke fan I”m extremely excited for the rest of the year.

Could be national title No. 6 for Coach K.

The best book I’ve read in years finally comes out (and it was dedicated to me!) Lady Gaga and James Corden do a great “Carpool Karoake.” And a 5-year-old soccer fan does something adorable.

gunslingercover

In September of 1993, a scrawny, glasses-wearing, jean-jacket sporting freshman at the University of Delaware (OK it was me) walked up to the student newspaper office, The Review, and said he wanted to write.

I had all of two years of high school newspaper experience, hadn’t taken any of the required college journalism courses you needed to write for the newspaper, and probably annoyed a few of the editors by telling them how great my high school newspaper was (hey, The Commack H.S. Courant won awards!)

The editor-in-chief was a tall skinny dude with a cocky attitude but a heart of gold. His name was Jeff Pearlman, and he wasn’t allowed to write for The Review as a freshman, and it stung him. After quizzing me a bit on sports, he decided he’d give me the chance that he never was.

Twenty-three years later, I’m really glad I walked up the stairs to the office that day. Jeff has become one of my two or three best friends in the whole world. He has been more instrumental in whatever journalism successes I’ve had than anyone else; truly there was a time early in my career where just about every chance I got was because he either talked me up to the person in charge, or passed on an opportunity so I could have it.

As a friend, he’s been more than amazing, which is why he was a groomsman in my wedding three years ago. His kind gestures big and small have never been forgotten, including the time two years ago when he mentioned our newborn son’s name on a nationally-televised sports show, just because I told him my wife thought it’d be cool to hear it. (To be fair, my son DOES share a name with a former NFL receiver, so it wasn’t dropped totally out of nowhere).

He’s also, oh yeah, a fantastic journalist and author, with four New York Times bestsellers to his credit.

Why am I telling you all this? Because as one of the people lucky enough to have edited/proofread all of his books and offer thoughts on them, I feel pretty qualified to say this: His new book, “Gunslinger,” a biography of NFL legend Brett Favre, is by far his best. Jeff talked to nearly 600 people about Favre, who of course played QB for the Green Bay Packers, won a Super Bowl, had a major prescription drug problem, said he was retiring 43 times before he actually did, and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame last summer.

Also, I nearly cried when Jeff sent me an advance copy a few months ago and I saw this on the first page:

favrebookdedication-2

I can’t tell you how cool I thought it was to have a book dedicated to me (all those other names are obscure New York Jets from the 1980s and ’90s; we’re both hardcore Jets fans).

Anyway, after all he’s done for me, the least I can do for him is promote his books when they come out. I am certain this Favre book will be a bestseller, and well worth your time. (Here’s a very quick taste of what you can expect from the book.) If you are, or know of, a big NFL or Green Bay Packers or just sports fan, please consider buying “Gunslinger.”

**Next up today, seems like James Corden hasn’t done a “Carpool Karaoke” in a while, but this one was worth the wait. I’m no Lady Gaga fan (I don’t dig her music, and I think she spent way too much of her career doing offensive and crazy things just to get attention), but she comes across really well here. Her voice is, unquestionably, fantastic, and Corden’s “costume changes” at about the 12-minute mark through are pretty hilarious.

soccerfan-5yearold

**Finally today, I don’t know if this is a true “Good News Friday” story but it made me smile pretty widely when I heard it. It seems 5-year-old Louis Kayes had to go to a birthday party last weekend, which meant he couldn’t go to the game of his favorite soccer team in Scotland, Celtic FC.

So Louis borrowed his mom’s phone and called the team to tell them he was sorry he couldn’t make it, and could he speak to manager Brendan Rodgers and captain Scott Brown, to apologize for his absence

She told the BBC her son had called after a “bit of a guilt trip”.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Kaye Adams program, she said: “He was in the living room with my phone and then I heard the voicemail message from Celtic Park saying ‘thank you for calling’.”

“He wanted to let both of them know he’d missed it in case they were looking for him,” said Lisa Kayes, Louis’s mother.

Louis told BBC Scotland the birthday party had been “good”, but said he would definitely not be missing Wednesday evening’s Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach.

Come on, Celtic FC, give this kid free tickets for the rest of the season!

Good News Friday: The NBA shows some courage and pulls All-Star-Game from North Carolina. Michelle Obama’s awesome “Carpool Karaoke”

All-Star Game Basketball

Not going to say one word about last night’s speech by the Republican Presidential nominee. It speaks for itself.

Time for some happy news as we head into a weekend that may hit 100 freaking degrees up and down the East Coast (somewhere, sunscreen company executives are planning new extensions to their homes).

First up, it’s not often a major sports league takes an important stand on an issue knowing it’s going to anger one of its franchises, and some of its fans. But good for the NBA, and commissioner Adam Silver, for doing what they did Thursday.

After North Carolina’s Republican-dominated state legislature and puppet governor, Pat McCrory railroaded the odious anti-gay and lesbian law known as HB2, lots of corporations and sports leagues made threats about boycotting the state of North Carolina. Silver said if the law didn’t get changed or repealed, he might pull the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.

Well the law still stands, but the All-Star Game is going elsewhere. The NBA announced Thursday that it was pulling the game from the state, thereby costing the Hornets, and North Carolina, millions in expected revenue.

“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2,” the league said in a statement.

Good for them. Let’s see more sports leagues take major events away (why are things still held in Indiana?) and see what kind of impact it has.

You know, if they really wanted to make a stand for equality and gay rights, the NBA ought to put this year’s game in San Francisco.

**Next up today, it’s been obvious for years that Michelle Obama is the coolest FLOTUS since at least Jackie Kennedy, and probably even cooler than her.

While her speech was getting plagiarized by some former model from Slovenia, Michelle was driving around singing Stevie and Beyonce with James Corden on the host’s newest “Carpool Karoake.” Love the singing, but love the chat about 3 a.m. grilled cheese sandwiches, too.

I have no idea what Michelle Obama will do come January. But whatever it is, I know it’ll be great.

**And finally, for the millions of you out there who are dog people, this should put a smile on your face. A second-class petty officer named Christina Baez was away at sea for a year, and one of the things she missed most was her pet pitbull, Layla.

Well, Baez has finally come home, and there were cameras out to record Layla’s slightly excited reaction.

“When you’re away from an animal, and even a child, you’re nervous coming home and afraid that they won’t remember you,” Baez said.

I don’t think that’s a problem. Just beautiful stuff.

The Orlando nightclub shooting and the Tony Awards: Love will always beat hate. The Penguins win the Cup, and Gordie Howe, remembered. And Billy Crystal beautifully eulogizes Muhammad Ali

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I woke up Sunday morning around 7:30, and within minutes I was filled with rage.

Rage at once again, a mass shooting on American soil, by a person using weapons only military should be allowed to possess. A man raging against the world, against gay people, against our values, and mowing down more than 100 people, killing 50.

Last time there was a mass shooting I wrote in this space that I was numb to it, and trying to remain hopeful. Two mass shootings ago I was angry and pissed off, and that’s where I was Sunday. I don’t care if the perpetrator of this heinous act did what he did at Pulse nightclub because he hates gay people, or because he sympathized with ISIS

And my rage barely subsided all day when I thought about the horrible tragedy, and how incredibly frightening it must have been to be in that club. And my rage reached new levels when I read “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims” statements from men like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, who absolutely demonize and spew hatred at lesbian and gay people constantly, yet now more than four dozen of them are dead and suddenly they give a fuck.

So I was mad, and feeling helpless, and knowing that once again, absolutely nothing will change in America even after the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history.

Then at 8 p.m., the Tony Awards started. And host James Corden did a fabulous opening number talking about inclusion, and how diversity is a good thing, and for the next few hours a theater community that welcomes and becomes a safe refuge for so many gay, lesbian and transgender people was a cornucopia of joy, and good feelings.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind “Hamilton,”  gave a fantastic acceptance speech that ended like this:

“We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger,
we rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that
hope and love last longer.

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love…
It cannot be killed or swept aside.”

And awards were handed out and heartfelt speeches made, and tributes to the Orlando victims were offered, and I smiled through much of it.

On such a tragic day, a day that usually leads to feeling such helplessness, it was wonderful to be reminded, by brilliant actors and actresses on the Beacon Theatre stage, that love ALWAYS wins over hate.

Every damn time.

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**Next up, there was a hell of a Stanley Cup finals hockey game played Sunday night, which I watched during Tonys commercials and then saw the whole third period.

The Sharks and Penguins played the whole game like their hair was on fire, and if only the choppy ice had cooperated (it’s June in San Jose, can’t really expect good ice) the score could easily have been 6-5. Pittsburgh is the new Stanley Cup champion, and man it

Couple quick thoughts on the Penguins’ Stanley Cup win:

— Sidney Crosby, hated by so many hockey fans (including me), is just a sensational player. His puckhandling, his vision, he’s been so good for so long that you take him for granted. But this guy almost had his career ended by concussions a few years ago, so to see him playing at this level again is something else.

— Mike Emrick. I mean, what more can you say about the best play-by-play announcer in any sport? He was just so much fun to listen to Sunday night.

— The Sharks have just about put to bed their reputation as playoff chokers, right? What a fantastic playoff run they had. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

— Gordie Howe, maybe the second-greatest hockey player ever (some blonde dude named Gretzky was better), died on Friday. So many great stories were told by the hockey writers who knew him; I loved this Michael Farber essay on Howe on SI.com, and Canadian hockey legend Roy MacGregor also had a great story and video here as well. In McDonald’s piece, we hear a wonderful anecdote about Howe once picking an opponent up off the ice by his nostrils. And oh yeah, Gordie was still playing pro hockey at age 51. Fifty-one!

Rest in Peace to a legendary player.

**Finally today, wanted to end on an uplifting note. Friday was Muhammad Ali’s funeral, and as you expect, so many luminaries were in attendance.

Billy Crystal gave one of the eulogies, and he was just pitch-perfect. His humor, emotion and words were outstanding. Watch this and again, appreciate how much love and goodness there is in the world.

Billy’s the best.