Tag Archives: Jeff Pearlman

The Jets hit rock bottom, and no that’s not the first time I’ve ever said that. A tribute to Veterans on Veteran’s Day. And my friend Jeff helps bring down a repugnant California congressman, proving one person can make a difference

As a Jets fan, you get used to misery.
It comes with the territory, like watching other teams celebrate, always having January weekends free from stress, and the sinking feeling that no matter what happens in the world, the Jets will always break your heart.

So it takes a lot, I mean A LOT, for Jets fans to truly feel like rock bottom has been hit. It’s been hit a bunch of times in my 37 years of fandom, with maybe the lowest of the lowest being the Rich Kotite era, that glorious stretch of the 1995-96 when the team won four games and lost, I believe, 324.

Anyway, back to the present. Look, we Jets fans knew this year was going to be a struggle, breaking in a rookie QB, with lots of young players on defense, not a lot of offensive playmakers (OK, zero offensive playmakers). But it’s been even worse than we could’ve thought, all leading to Sunday’s pathetic, miserable, disgusting, execrable 41-10 loss to the previously-hapless Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo Bills! A team starting a quarterback, Matt Barkley, who hadn’t played in a game in almost two years!

The Bills destroyed the Jets every which way you can, and I’m thrilled that I didn’t watch any of it.

But one thing is certainly clear: The Jets need to fire head coach Todd Bowles. And soon. Like, today. The team is going backwards, he’s shown no ability whatsoever when it comes to game management, timeouts, when to be daring and when not to, and he seems to inspire zero effort or hustle among his team.

He’s had four years, and the team is awful. Fire the man and put us all out of our misery. So maybe soon we can inch our way up from rock bottom.

Sigh. Not easy being a Jets fan.

Some more quick-hit NFL thoughts from Sunday…

— Well, I think it’s fair to say there might now be three teams who are head and shoulders above the rest of the league. All year it has seemed like the Chiefs and Rams were playing on a different plane, but the Saints sure seem like they belong up there now. They destroyed a good Bengals team on the road, 51-14, and man is Drew Brees playing amazing. New Orleans is 8-1 and looking unstoppable.

— Remember a few months ago when everyone thought the Jaguars were good? They stink. Lost their fifth straight, now are 3-6, and look to be going back to the basement where they were for most of the past decade.

–Ladies and gentlemen, the Cleveland Browns! They’ve now won THREE games this year! Baker Mayfield and Co. beat up Atlanta, 28-16, and well, I just can’t believe the Browns have won three whole games. In the same season.

— Finally, the Patriots got their asses kicked Sunday in Tennessee and since you don’t get to say that that often, I just thought I’d point that out. It made me happy.

**Next up today, it is of course Veteran’s Day, a time to honor all of our amazing, heroic servicemen and women who have helped keep our country safe. Gotta say, I thought this response from “SNL” and Pete Davidson after his tasteless, awful joke about Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw, a war veteran, last week was handled perfectly this week, with an apology and a hilarious appearance by Crenshaw himself. Check it out here.

But of course the real heroes of Veteran’s Day deserve to be saluted; I ran the video above a few years ago in this space and it seemed like a good time to run it again, to thank those who served and sacrificed so much.

**Finally today, a few words about a pretty stunning election result in Southern California, and my good friend’s small part in it. A couple of years ago, in the wake of Trump’s election, my man Jeff Pearlman, as good a friend as I’ll ever have, decided he wanted to get involved, somehow, someway, to help affect American politics.

So as all politics is local, he looked at his Congressman in his Southern California district, the 48th, and saw Dana Rohrabacher. A 15-term incumbent, Rohrabacher was an entranched California GOP politician who didn’t pass much legislation, seemed to spend more time on TV than anywhere else, and had lots of ties to Donald Trump and Russia.

So Jeff decided he would help defeat Rohrabacher. He started a website, crazydana.com, which quickly grabbed attention from the media, and he put in the hard work, getting to know the candidates running to get the Democratic nomination, spreading awareness of all of Rohrabacher’s conflicts of interest and bizarre lack of interest in the job. He went to the conventions, put in the hours, and what do ya know, last Tuesday Rohrabacher’s 30-year Congressional career ended in defeat, to Harley Rouda.

It was beautiful to see. Jeff wrote a really smart blog post about the whole experience, definitely one I recommend checking out.

One person can make a huge difference; don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. Don’t just sit and complain about our government; do something about it.

Michael Cohen pleads guilty and implicates his old boss in a felony, and Trump gets one step closer to infamy. A man apologizes to his girlfriend with 300 large posters. And I appear on a podcast that usually hosts famous writers (but now me too!).

I know, I know, those of us on the left are a broken record with the “this time, Donald Trump’s Presidency really is doomed.

But let us, if you will, examine the front page of Wednesday’s New York Times, shall we? Let’s see what the Old Gray Lady has to say.

First up, Trump’s consigliere, his No. 1 attorney and longtime friend, pleaded guilty to eight counts on state fraud charges Tuesday, and at least one of those charges directly implicates the Orange Grifter in a felony.

From the lede to the Times story: Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, made the extraordinary admission in court on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump.

So stop right there. Forget anything else Donald Trump has said, done, Tweeted or screamed in the last three years. Right there, we have the President of the United States helping commit a felony. You’re going to tell me THAT’s not enough for impeachment? When the House of Representatives impeached Bill Clinton for having oral sex in the White House with a woman other than his wife?

Then on the left side of the page, we have the story of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, being convicted of eight counts of bank and tax fraud charges.

Amid all the other news Wednesday, amid Stormy Daniels’ lawyer crowing like a peacock on MSNBC (man, does Michael Avenatti want to be famous, or what?), we are left with the fairly inescapable conclusion that everyone Donald Trump surrounds himself with is a criminal. And lots and lots of them know stuff, and have been talking to Robert Mueller, and I just can’t see how Trump escapes from this jam.

The End of Trump has taken far longer than I expected, and hit a lot more bumps along the way. But I mean, come on… it HAS to be close to the end of his Presidency, especially if the Democrats re-take the Senate and House in November.

It’s just so darn unlucky that everyone Trump trusts turns out to be a criminal, isn’t it?

As usual, the great Charlie Pierce had the best take on Tuesday’s huge news.

**Next up today, I loved this story, because who among us hasn’t done something crazy to apologize to a significant other?

Not sure any of us have gone to this extreme, though: A man in India named Nilesh Khedekar was really, really sorry for what he’d done. So he put up 300 banners all over town reading “Shivde, I am sorry!!” and people in Maharashtra were really not thrilled about Nilesh’s defacement of public property.

No word yet on if Nilesh’s girlfriend forgave him. But man, that’s an awful lot of paint to waste if she still thinks you’re a doofus.

**Finally today, allow me to promote two recent pieces of entertainment I’m proud of and wanting to share.

First, my great friend Jeff Pearlman had me on his excellent “Two Writers Slinging Yang” podcast this week, and while my career achievements pale in comparison to writing greats like Gary Smith and Wright Thompson he’s had on his show, I am the only one who first met Jeff wearing a gold New York Jets pendant and jeans jacket. For real, it was a really fun conversation about my life in journalism, why I left newspapers, and what it’s like to be locked inside a soccer stadium. Check it out here.

Second, it’s U.S. Open time, and that means I’m going to be writing a TON about tennis. My first story is on the pride of Dover, Del. Madison Brengle, and the excruciating pain she lives with every day. I’m amazed after this brutally frank interview and story I wrote how she’s able to play world-class tennis, given her medical condition. Check the story out here.

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: A woman sends her Uber driver to the Olympics to watch his son. The L.A. Rams making kids’ day and doing great things. And the American-Muslim fencer breaking down barriers

UberDriver

And a Happy Friday to all of you fellow sweltering people if you’re on the East Coast like me; triple digit temperatures are always fun, no?

I’m hoping to cool down at a water park this weekend, I highly suggest you do the same if you have the chance.

We start an Olympics-heavy Good News Friday post with an awesome and random encounter between an Uber driver and a customer. (Awesome Olympics night Thursday night: Simone Biles, just amazing. Aly Raisman, pretty awesome, too. And Michael Phelps just swimming AWAY from everyone in the 200 IM, that dude just isn’t human!)

Sorry, back to the Uber driver story. A woman named Liz Willock was leaving the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia a few weeks ago and grabbed an Uber driven by a man named Ellis Hill.

They got to talking and it turned out Hill had a son going to the Olympics in Rio named Darrell Hill, a Team USA shot-putter.

You must be so excited for him, are you going to Brazil? Willock asked. Nope, Ellis replied. Too expensive.

For 95 percent of us, that would’ve been it. But Willock went the extra mile, times 10.

“It just made me sad because any loving parent would want to see their child compete in the Olympics,” she said last week in a great Washington Post story.

Willock started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Ellis to go to the Olympics to watch his son. Darrell Hill shared the page on social media, and within 48 hours they’d exceeded the $7,500 goal for flights, hotels, meals and other expenses.

So now when Darrell Hill competes in the shotput next week, his proud Papa will be there to watch him live.

Awesome. I love this part of the story, at the end:

“Hill had only been an Uber driver for about four weeks when he met Willlock. And meeting her as reaffirmed what he’s always believed to be true about people.”

“People are people, so until they do something different, you expect the best out of people,” he said. “It’s an awesome thing.”

Rams.Pearlman

**Next up today, my fantastic friend Jeff Pearlman took his 9-year-old football-crazed son to a Los Angeles Rams practice the other day. The Rams, as you probably know, just moved back to California from St. Louis, where they’d been since 1995, when they left L.A.

You would think that the Rams would go out of their way to cultivate new fans since they’ve been gone for so long. Happily, they are.

Jeff wrote beautifully about a magical day he and his son had at Rams practice. Pro athletes’ small gestures can go so far, and how great they treated children on this day is terrific.

**Finally today, I love the story of American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim-American Olympian to compete while wearing a hijab.

“I feel like my hijab is liberating,” Muhammad says. “It’s a part of who I am, and I believe that it allows people to see me for my voice, and now necessarily how I look.

“I hope that it’ll change a lot of the misconceptions that people have about Muslim women specifically.”

The above video shows Muhammad speaking truthfully about the stereotypes that confront her every day, including a scary incident where a stranger followed her because she “looked suspicious.”

Ibtihaj Muhammad didn’t medal in fencing; she was eliminated in the second round earlier this week.

But as this Michael Rosenberg column on SI.com pointed out, she won just by competing.

My thoughts on an almost-great “Mad Men” finale. The guy who sneezed out a dart in his nose, 44 years later. And a first-year Little League coach writes beautifully of his experience

mad-men-series-finale

I remember watching the very first episode of “Mad Men,” back in 2007, and thinking “Hmmm, this doesn’t look like any TV show I’ve seen before.”

In an era of gloriously good television, basically from when “The Sopranos” started until now,” the best shows have all felt different from anything that came before it. “Breaking Bad” certainly did; so did “The Wire.”

And “Mad Men” was totally that way too; from the look, the dialogue, the period pieces from the 1960s they got exactly right… it really was a hell of a show. even if Pete Campbell drove me nuts just looking at him (I’m trying to think of a TV character I’ve hated more than Pete Campbell.

Which is why I was so disappointed with this final half-season, when I felt like it was mostly running in circles. Still, I had high hopes for the finale, and for the most part, I wasn’t let down.

(SPOILER ALERT. I’M ABOUT TO DISCUSS THE SERIES FINALE. IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED IT YET, SKIP DOWN TO THE PHOTO. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED)

I loved how the series ended Joan’s arc; her standing up for herself with yet another jerk (Richard, I thought you were the one!), and then starting her own production company? Joan’s come such a long way. Loved, loved, loved Peggy and Stan finally getting together; that relationship has been on simmer for years, and it was about damn time they became a couple.

I enjoyed Roger Sterling’s final moments, even felt a little good for Pete, that sonofabitch, seeming happy at the end.

But the way “Mad Men” dealt with Don Draper… ugh. I didn’t like Don Draper since the middle of season 1, when we got to see what a cad he was. The man, for 10 years in show-time, did not change at all. Behavior still awful, toward women, toward his kids, all of it.

And then in the final episode, when it looks like Don is completely broken, mentally, spiritually, and all that, and seems to finally find some catharsis and peace … “Mad Men” just uses his brief moment of Zen as inspiration for another ad campaign. Don Draper returns to McCann and writes the iconic Coca-Cola commercial.

I’ve seen some people interpret the ending differently, but to me, it’s crystal clear: Don can’t change, he is what he is, and his descent into a terrible life spiral these last few episodes has a happy ending for a guy who doesn’t deserve one.

Still, I left “Mad Men” on a happy note. It was a sensational show, one few others have matched.
And hey, at least we got to see Sally Draper survive without major psychological damage!

steveeaston

**So this is one of those stories that instantly raised my “bullshit” detector, for it can’t possibly be true. But apparently it is.

Maybe you heard about this last week; A 51-year-old Englishman named Steve Easton (maybe related to 80s pop diva Sheena Easton?) sneezed out a toy part that had been stuck in his nose for the past 44 years, causing him decades of congested breathing.

Apparently when Easton was 7 the rubber tip of a toy dart had gotten stuck up his nose, and it was beyond the reach of doctors.

Two weeks ago Easton was sitting at home and overcome by a sneezing fit, and one sneeze dislodged the dart.

“I thought, where the hell has this come from?” Easton told The Guardian newspaper.

OK, let me stop right there, because I’m brimming with questions. First of all, the child gets a dart stuck up his nose, and the parents just leave it there when the doctor says he can’t get it? Who does that? My parents would’ve taken me to 11 specialists, all over the East Coast, to get that thing out. (Then again, we’re Jewish, so, you know, we might be a little crazier in parenting than you.)

Second, do they tell young Steve he’s got a dart up his nose, or leave him oblivious? Wouldn’t you think after sneezing and being uncomfortable for all these years, he might’ve said “Hey Mum and Dad, anything ever happen to my  nose when I was a kid?”

Third, what doctors tell parents “Yeah, there’s a toy stuck up you kid’s nose, but we can’t get it out?” I mean, do they teach you that in medical school?

Poor Steve Easton. At least his long national nightmare is over.

BadNewsBears

**Finally today, this blog post by my buddy Pearlman really spoke to me, maybe because I absolutely can see myself in his position a few years from now, prowling the dugouts for my son’s team.

Jeff just finished his first year as a Little League coach, for his 8-year-old son’s team in Southern California, and as you might expect, it was equal parts frustrating and exhilarating.

He writes of the joys, mostly, though, and it’s a really sweet look at coaching young boys, and the bonds he feels with these kids forever.

 

The Rangers win a wild Game 7. Why Donald Sterling’s racism overshadows the real problem. And grilled cheese delivered by parachutes in Australia

RANGERS-2-master675

So, yeah, I’m still breathing. All faculties working, am able to respond to commands and walk on my own. All good things.
For about a half hour Wednesday night, most of that was in question. Because once again, my New York Rangers not only won, but won in heart-stopping fashion, making me and the millions of other Blueshirts diehards sweat it out until the final buzzer.
But they won, and I am happy. What a hockey series. What a Game 7. Play was even in the first, Rangers dominated the second, then hung on for dear life in the 3rd.
Steve Mason, Flyers goalie, was phenomenal Wednesday. Absolutely phenomenal. Rangers could’ve, and should’ve, had five or six goals in that second period if not for Mason. Daniel Carcillo, a lifetime goon whose acquisition by the Rangers I hated, scored another huge goal.
Then in the third, King Henrik was outstanding. Made a bunch of key stops, while I paced the living room and threw stuff and yelled at the TV. (Don’t worry, the wife is used to this by now. She just goes in the other room and closes the door. Key to a happy marriage? Respecting each other’s craziness.)

Great series. Great sport. And a terrific and classy handshake line at the end, which is the best thing hockey does.

Whew. God I love hockey. And then the Nets came back from 26 down… and lost to Toronto in a huge Game 5. Hey, I can’t have everything.

 

clippers.sterling

**So it’s been a couple of days since the whole Donald Sterling/L.A. Clippers owner banned for life story broke, and we’ve had the predictable responses: The incredibly overblown media coverage. The NBA players falling all over themselves congratulating new commissioner Adam Silver for “saving the league” and rescuing them from one schmuck who, oh by the way, has been the exact same schmuck for 30 years, doing and saying the exact same things, and no one cared.

But a few writers, like my boy Pearlman in this great blog post, point out that for all the screaming and shouting about racism the last few days, a much, MUCH more dangerous form of it goes on every day in this country.

Here’s an excerpt from Jeff’s excellent post:

He’s a basketball owner who lives a wealthy life in California. The words are infuriating, but does his take of African-Americans have any bearing on my world? Or, really, the world? No.

But let’s talk about the south, and what’s happening to the voting rights of minorities.

Without much fanfare, and with 1 /1,000,000,000,000,000th of the attention directed toward Sterling, one Republican lawmaker after another has worked hard (and often succeeded) to limit the number of minorities able to vote. There’s nothing hypothetical about this take, or slanted toward the left. State by state, there have been repeated efforts to make it more arduous for African-American and Hispanics to successfully cast their ballots—via the requirements of photo IDs, via limiting the days and times polls are often, via myriad methods to make it more difficult for people to register. You can read about it in a ton of places, including a pretty thorough piece right here.

He’s absolutely right. Donald Sterling’s racism hardly matters, but it’s been so blatant and in your face, thanks to that audiotape from his girlfriend, that everyone gets up in arms.
But the cruelty and viciousness of the policies designed to stop poor people, and minorities, has been going on in plain sight for years now, and nobody seems to care.
Shameful.

**And finally today, god bless the Australian people for this. A pop-up restaurant in Melbourne can now deliver a grilled cheese sandwich to you by parachute.

Or, as the company, Jafflechutes.com calls it, a “gravity controlled melted cheese delivery mechanism.”

Watch this video, and tell me you don’t want one, right now.

“Homeland” veering dangerously close to a soap opera. Colbert spoofs Fox News beautifully. And a father won’t let his son play team sports

Episode 306

My apologies on not writing about “Homeland” last week; honestly I didn’t see the episode until Thursday and figured I’d waited too long to write about it.

Which is too bad, because I loved (most of) last week’s episode, as Saul and Carrie began to set a trap for Iranian evil-doer Javadi, and mercifully we got an end to Dana Brody’s wild and crazy car trip across the country with scary boyfriend Leo.

This week’s episode (SPOILER ALERT, STOP HERE AND GO TO THE VIDEO IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET), though, scared me. And I don’t mean scared as in, “when Javadi killed his ex-wife by stabbing her in the neck with a bottle 10 times” kind of scared.

I mean, this whole Carrie pregnancy thing is veering awfully close to soap opera land. It’s so easy to see where the writers can take this: The baby is Brody’s, and Carrie ends up in Venezuela, finds Brody, and their whole relationship goes back into play, and cue the soft music, and … ugh. “Homeland” is SO much better than that, having Carrie and Brody as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet or some crap like that. (Plus, when the hell did Carrie have time to take all those pregnancy tests? She’s been in the hospital for a long time, no?)

Because while the show isn’t anywhere close to what it was in Season 1, it’s still really strong. The Saul-Javadi dynamic is fascinating, I still have no idea what Peter Quinn is really up to, and when it focuses on terrorism-related storylines, “Homeland” is at its best.

So please, Alex Gansa and other “Homeland” writers, don’t turn this show into “Days of Our Lives.” There’s too much other good stuff in this world you’ve created.

Couple other quick “Homeland” thoughts:
— Let’s hope Dana Brody running away from home means we won’t have to watch the Brody family dynamics for a while. I’m sick of them and they add nothing much to the show.
— How great was the scene when Carrie turned the tables on Javadi while he was interrogating her? The way his face changes, from being in total control to suddenly being fearful, was perfect.
— Finally, I care not at all about Saul’s wife maybe having an affair. I hope they don’t make that a big part of the show going forward.

**Next up today, Stephen Colbert and his writing staff have a wicked sense of humor, of course. So when they found out that Fox News paid staffers to create and prop up fake Twitter accounts to combat any negative comments about the “Fair and Balanced” (ha!) network, he and his evil geniuses went to work.

They decided to create a Twitter account called #RealHumanPraise and, well, just watch what they did. Brilliant.

organized-youth-sports

**Finally, my friend Jeff Pearlman has a 7-year-old son who’s just getting into sports, so naturally the temptation is to have the lad join all kinds of different youth teams.

But Jeff isn’t letting his boy do that, thanks to the negative and sometimes spirit-crushing experiences that those teams can cause kids.  I’m pretty divided on this; when I was a kid I had some awful coaches who made me, and other players who weren’t that skilled, feel like garbage.
But in playing and watching team sports my whole life, I’ve also seen how wonderful they can be for some kids’ self-confidence, and how sportsmanship, fair play and teamwork are life lessons they’ll take with them forever.

Anyway, Jeff wrote a piece on this for the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, and his take on this is a strong and well-argued one. I highly recommend it.

A cool story of “paying it forward.” Paul Ryan, an ultimate B.S.’er. And the bride who ordered a life-size self-portrait as a wedding cake

We begin today with a story so ridiculous it could only involve a Bridezilla.

My good friend Victoria C. pointed me to this, and I’m so glad she did.
A bride in Dallas named Chidi Ogbuta decided to order a wedding cake for her nuptials.
A life-sized cake that looked exactly like she did.
“Creepy” doesn’t even begin to describe this. How self-absorbed do you have to be to have a LIFE-SIZED wedding cake? Are you not certain that everyone at your wedding knows what you look like? Do you fear that the phrase “Eat Me” will lose its ironic context without a giant cream-filled cake in the middle of the dance floor?

And the most important question of all about this 400-pound, five-foot tall behemoth: Do you need a bodybag and a meat locker to freeze the leftovers?

This woman takes narcissism way, way beyond Paris Hilton or Kanye West. This deserves a whole new word.
I also love the part that says the groom was supposed to get one too, but the designer ran out of time. Ain’t it always the groom who gets screwed?

**Meanwhile, my mind is still reeling from the many, many, many Whopper-sized lies told by Paul Ryan last night as he accepted the GOP’s vice-presidential nomination. Hard to narrow down which of Ryan’s fibs were most egregious; was it the one about the GM plant in Janesville closing down for which he blamed Obama, when it really closed under Bush? Or maybe his excoriating Obama about the $700 million in Medicare reductions, while Ryan’s budget did the exact same thing.

This Ryan guy is quite the character. Handsome, young, and able to lie through his teeth while thousands whooped and hollered. Yep, he’s the new W. all right.

Here’s a handy guide to Ryan’s five biggest mistruths Wednesday.


**Finally, a palatte-cleanser that’ll make you feel better about people, and life. My buddy Pearlman had a heartwarming “Pay it Forward” experience while at a diner in Weldon, N.C. recently, with a total stranger just aching to do good in the world.
It’s a beautiful tale told very well.

“The Big C” completely goes into the toilet, while “Nurse Jackie” shines on; Roger Clemens, not guilty but hardly innocent. And the amazing R.A. Dickey, inspiring all

I’ve been saying for a while now that Showtime has, pound for pound, much better shows than HBO.
Two of my favorites on the network finished off their seasons on Sunday. Sadly, one show I’m now crossing off the list, while the other is better than ever.
Since I subscribe to Don Corleone’s credo from “The Godfather”(“he insists on hearing bad news immediately”), I’ll start with the bad.

“The Big C” had such a fantastic first season, and a really good second season, too. If you’ve never seen it, Laura Linney plays Cathy, a woman diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we watch as she and her family (Oliver Platt is her husband) go through all the different feelings and emotions the cancer causes.

I had really high hopes going into Season 3, but man, it was some kind of awful. They went in 47 different directions, many that made no sense (Paul as a motivational speaker? A woman who’s dying adopting a baby?), and basically completely forgot that Cathy is supposed to be dead soon.

Then in the finale, they just totally made no sense with character choices and motivations. Sad to see such a terrific show go into the toilet, but it’s just turned into a terrible show.

How-evah (channeling my inner Stephen A. Smith there), “Nurse Jackie,” the other awesome Showtime show that just ended its season, is as good as ever. Edie Falco completely rules as an ER nurse who’s a cheating spouse and a drug addict (pills), and until this season pretty much got away with everything dirty that she did.
Finally this year she was forced to face some consequences, and her life (predictably) began to fall apart.
But the show was SO much more interesting, watching her go through rehab, fight to get custody of her kids, and try really hard to stay clean.
“Nurse Jackie” is wickedly funny, with a great supporting cast (thank God they toned-down the obnoxious Coop a little this year), and has a lot of heart. The season finale was gut-wrenching in the end, but so worth watching.

So my official verdict: If you’re not yet, start watching “Nurse Jackie.” And if you wanna watch great TV, watch the first two years of “The Big C.” That’s all that’s worth your time.

**So Roger Clemens, who everyone in the civilized world knows used and abused steroids late in his career (and allow me to plug my man Pearlman’s excellent book on Rocket, which I helped edit), was acquitted Monday on charges of perjury in front of Congress.
Of course, ole’ Roj and his lawyers take this to mean he’s been exonerated from the charge of ever having juiced. Not quite the same thing.
I personally don’t care that Clemens got off, though I feel quite certain he’s a scumbag (though I thought that long, long before the steroid thing).

I just hope that more than any jail sentence, the permanent punishment for him remains that most baseball fans know he cheated. He cheated his talent, he cheated the game, and the last 5-6 years of his career will be forever tainted.

Like Barry Bonds before him, Roger Clemens was going to the Hall of Fame before he touched one needle. But like Bonds before him, because of hubris and ego, Roger Clemens may now never get into Cooperstown. (Although the feds may have turned him into a martyr; check out this excellent Jeff Passan article here).

**Finally, a much more uplifting baseball story. Have you seen what the Mets’ ace knuckleball pitcher, R.A. Dickey, is doing? Dude was a career journeyman, nothing more, and this season he’s the best pitcher in the sport. Monday night he threw his second consecutive one-hitter, and now hasn’t allowed an earned run in like 40 innings.
Dickey’s backstory is pretty remarkable, too; his new book (discussed, with his life, in a great story here) talks about how he suffered two separate instances (and abusers) of child molestation. I wonder if, in some small way, unburdening himself of his past in the book has made him a better, more confident pitcher.

So great to see a man who seems to finally, truly have some peace in his life doing so well.

Finally, a solution to subway loudmouths! A very cool “nine month project” video. “This Week in Rick Santorum Crazy.”

I love it when enterprising scientists come up with solutions to problems we really need.
Ever been on a train, or in a public place, or on the subway, and have someone yakking really loud on their cellphone or to the person next to you? Most times you wish you had a device to make them shut up.
Well, now you do! Introducing the SpeechJammer, a little radar-gun looking thing that, when pointed at someone, “jams” their voice and stops them from talking. Well, basically it just repeats their words back to them.
I know, I know, it sounds totally made up.  But these two Japanese scientists invented a prototype and even have a video of how it works (fast forward to :30 for the good stuff):

The device, according to Wired.com, consists of a direction-sensitive microphone and a direction-sensitive speaker, a motherboard, a distance sensor and some relatively straightforward code. The concept is simple, too — it operates on the well-studied principle of delayed auditory feedback. By playing someone’s voice back to them, at a slight delay (around 200 milliseconds), you can jam a person’s speech.

I think two things about this: 1, It’s very cool and can absolutely come in handy in America, and 2, it may singlehandedly bring subway rioting back to New York City, which quite frankly and disappointingly has disappeared in recent decades.

**My buddy Pearlman put this on Facebook Tuesday and I thought it was very clever. We’ve all seen those time-lapse videos by now, which are usually fun and special to look at. This one’s a little different. It’s about a man and a woman and the “9 month project” they undertook together.
Very sweet stuff…

**Finally, time for everyone’s favorite political game, “This Week in Rick Santorum Crazy!” It seems like every week we can find at least a half-dozen insane statements made by the somehow-serious GOP presidential candidate, who, to the shock of absolutely no one, won the Alabama and Mississippi primaries Tuesday night.

Here are just two of Ricky Boy’s latest head-turning pronouncements. First, he said that when he was President he would pass a law making Teleprompters illegal, because, you know, the GOP loves to say that Obama is a “Teleprompter President.”

“See, I always believed that when you run for president of the United States, it should be illegal to read off a teleprompter, because all you’re doing is reading someone else’s words to people,” he said.

Um, yeah, good luck with that. But that was hardly the craziest thing Santorum said lately. He also said, in response to a question about President Obama blaming the Bush administration for high gas prices, said “I will never mention a former president’s name when I am in office. Man up, take responsibility and quit blaming everybody else.”

Wow. As NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me pointed out, what is he going to say to overnight guests? “Hey, you’re staying in the bedroom named after that old bearded guy from Illinois?”

Man, I hope Santorum stays in this race for a while longer, even though I still can’t see any possible way he gets enough delegates to get the nomination. He’s more entertaining than anything else I find on television.