Tag Archives: John Oliver

An awful mistaken identity murder in Atlanta scares me. Monica Lewinsky, 20 years after the scandal, in a great interview with John Oliver. And new tracking technology scares me, times 2

There is so much awfulness in the world, so much crime, so many examples of bad things happening to good people, or bad things happening for no reason at all, that we all get numb to it.

We hear a news headline, or read about something, or overhear two people on the street discussing some tragic event, and it passes by us in minutes, maybe even seconds.

I don’t usually dwell on individual tragedies in this space, but this one, for some reason, hit me hard. I’m just going to lay out the currently-known facts for you of the Atlanta-area murder last weekend of a 19-year-old African-American man named Omarian Banks.

Banks was on his way in a Lyft car to his girlfriend’s apartment complex at around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning. He called the girlfriend, Zsakeria Mathis, 23, a minute before arriving to ask her to open the door for him.

Banks then knocked on an apartment door he thought belonged to Mathis. When no one answered, he started to walk away. Within a few seconds, a 32-year-old white male named Darryl Bynes opened the door to his balcony.

After Banks apologized for knocking on the wrong door, Bynes fired his gun three times, killing the teenager.

Bynes was arrested and charged with murder.

According to this New York Times story, Ms. Mathis and Mr. Banks, who turned 19 in March, had been living at the apartment complex for eight months, said Lisa Johnson, Bynes’ mother. She said Mr. Bynes’s apartment looked identical to her son’s from the outside, making it easy to mistake for his own.

“I don’t understand. I am dealing with the why,” Johnson said. “How someone could be that evil to just shoot someone that clearly made a mistake and was begging you for their life? This was a kid that was fleeing.”

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS WORLD???? A 19-year-old kid knocks on the door of the wrong apartment, tries to apologize, and is murdered for his troubles.

A mother is without her son, a girlfriend is without her boyfriend, and all those who loved Omarian Banks will never get to see him alive again.

Sometimes I wonder just what kind of world I’m bringing up my sons in. I really do.

**Next up today, I’m a few weeks late on this but I must share this remarkable piece from a recent “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” episode about public shaming. During his long segment about the dangers and horror of people who become “viral” for often incorrect reasons, or have one mistake they made in their life follow them forever on social media, John Oliver sat down with Monica Lewinsky to talk about this subject, which obviously she knows so much about.

Incredibly, it’s been 21 years since the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, and for whatever you may think of Monica, she has endured a living hell over the past two decades.

Remarkably, based on this interview she did with Oliver and some other research I did on her after watching it, she seems to have come out the other side braver, wiser, and committed to trying to be a positive light in the world.

I really, really enjoyed this 10-minute interview, and feel badly that she had to suffer as much as she did. I think if you watch it you’ll find it very revealing, and find yourself rooting for her in life.

**Finally today, a couple of recent stories have me pretty freaked out about the future of tracking technology, and people knowing where we are at all times.

First, “60 Minutes” did a story about Pegasus, this amazingly accurate software, sold by an Israeli company to governments around the world, that can crack any smartphone and trace just about anyone it wants.  Of course the NSO Group, Pegasus’ owner and developer, said it doesn’t sell the software to terrorists or other groups seeking to do evil. But after watching this, not so sure I trust them on that one.

The other story much closer to home and one that actually affects our lives, was revealed to me almost off-the-cuff, in a profile of a writer named Lauren Duca, who I have kinda sorta heard of because Fox News moron host Tucker Carlson seems to have an odd obsession with her, talking about her articles in Teen Vogue and other places and denigrating her way more often than a non-obsessed person should.

But anyway, my point is this: In this profile on Jezabel.com was the following paragraph:

Duca repeatedly viewed, but did not respond to, six emails I sent her requesting comment over a period of nearly two months. Duca has an auto-reply that reads, in part, “Due to the absurd volume of emails I receive here, I am not able to respond to everything, and I also miss a lot of stuff. I will try to get back to you, but, if not: good vibes only!!” However, I know she opened them because for professional emails, I use a tracking service, which shows how often they were opened; the service showed that Duca viewed every email multiple times from her iPhone, her Gmail account, and another mail client.)

Wait… what??? There are email tracking services that show how you when and where a person has viewed an email you sent them, and how often?

That’s just creepy. And very, very odd. And disturbing. I think I’m going to try to go to sleep now. I’m not confident I’ll achieve success.

If you’re interested and brave enough to check out how these tracking services work, click here.

I’m going to climb under my covers now, thank you.

A hilarious and accurate anti-Ted Cruz ad makes me smile. A student in California serves cookies with her Grandma’s ashes in them. And Vin Scully’s voice on the World Series (even though it’s an ad) is beautiful

Hi dear readers, a quick personal plug before we get started today: As some of you may know my grandmother, the greatest person I’ll ever know, suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease before she died five years ago. My family and I are doing a charity walk with the Alzheimer’s Association here in NYC this Saturday, and we’re trying to raise as much as we can to help research a cure for this insidious disease. Any amount you could donate would be much appreciated. Thanks. Here’s the link if you are able to donate. 

OK, on with the show…

I guess it’s possible that if there’s a political figure in America I hate more than Donald Trump, it’s Mr. Ted Cruz, Senator from the state of Texas.

I’ve written many times before about my disgust for Cruz, a Harvard-educated elitist who pretends to be a “common man, man of the people” and that’s only one of many, many, many issues I have with him. He’s a bigot, he’s a xenophobe, and he’s such a nasty human being that literally no one else in the Senate, in either party, likes him.

Lindsay Graham, who before he got infected with Trump disease used to at least be a straight talker, once said of Cruz “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”

Anyway, Cruz is a despicable guy, by almost universal account, which is why millions of us who live outside of Texas are hoping and praying Beto O’Rourke beats him on Election Day.

But until then, we can all enjoy this devastating ad, highlighted on John Oliver’s HBO show last week.

Just perfect. Go Beto.

**Next up today, file this one under “Be careful what you buy from schoolkids.” So a girl in California decided to bring in some homemade cookies recently to share with her friends.

These were special cookies, it turns out: they contained traces of her late grandmother’s ashes.
I’m not making this up. A student at Da Vinci Charter Academy High School in Davis, Calif. gave the cookies to classmates, then told them they contained human ashes in them, according to this story from KTXL-TV.

The school district refuses to confirm or deny the story or what has happened to the student, but apparently she told lots of kids the same story.

Wow. I mean, I’ve heard of liking Grandma’s cookies before, but this is going WAY too far. And if you always wanted to save a little taste of Grandma’s cooking, there are better ways to do it!

So many jokes, so little time…

**And finally today, Tuesday night was Game 1 of the World Series (Boo, Red Sox), and while I can’t say I’m enthralled, I did catch this commercial on social media and thought it was fabulous.

Not just because of the nice job by T-Mobile with the ad, and the donations, but because it’s voiced by the voice of baseball, Vin Scully. Those beautiful pipes, over these images, make for one hell of a commercial.

I’d listen to Vin Scully read anything, anywhere, anytime.

Good News Friday: An amazing gesture by TV star Gina Rodriguez. John Oliver hilariously mocks a stupid British law. And a 10-year-old girl makes sure a civil rights hero gets his just due.

Happy Friday, world! It’s summer, the sun is shining, I went to the pool Thursday and even though the water was freezing I’m still happy I got to go swimming, and Wimbledon is only 10 days away.

Despite the awfulness of this week from a national perspective, there is still plenty of good news going on. No matter how dark it gets, there will still always be light.

And there’ll always be people like Gina Rodriguez, the TV star of a hit show, “Jane the Virgin.” Rodriguez, who has won a Golden Globe for her performance on “Jane The Virgin,” decided to do a wonderful thing with the money she was given to help promote her show for the Emmy Awards.

Instead of spending the money on promoting her show, Rodriguez got her network, the WB, to commit to spending the cash to send an underprivileged Latina scholar to Princeton.

From this story in The Hollywood Reporter announcing the move, which Rodriguez partnered on with Big Brothers/Big Sisters:

“Rodriguez, 33, who won a 2015 Golden Globe for Jane, partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles to find the right applicant — a Princeton University-bound young woman who’ll now be able to complete all four years without financial burden.

And while Rodriguez says she’s been invigorated by her decision, she had mixed feelings about revealing it.

“It’s taboo to talk about the money being spent, but it’s the reality,” says Rodriguez. “I think sharing this might inspire other people to do something similar. You can desire recognition and, at the same time, decide to not play in the confines of the game as it’s set up.”

She’s exactly right. Another person will see someone like Rodriguez making a wonderful gesture like this, giving the gift of education and hope, and others will surely take notice and do something similar.

Wonderful job by Gina Rodriguez.

**Next up today, I’m a little late on this one as I fell behind on my “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” episodes during our recent move. But this segment was flat-out brilliant and hilarious.

A week before this show, Oliver had made fun of a member of Britain’s Parliament on his show. Well apparently there’s some sort of a law in the U.K. that says you’re not allowed to use video clips of Parliament on a satirical or comedy news show, so instead of that segment of Oliver’s show airing, they simply showed a black screen.

So a week later, Oliver and his brilliant team got creative, and well, just watch. So, so good.

**And finally today, loyal reader and friend of the blog Sanford tipped me off to this fabulous Steve Hartman story from “CBS Sunday Morning” I’d missed. Sarah Haycox is a 10-year-old from Shoreline, Wash., near Seattle, and about a year ago she stumbled upon a tiny stone honoring a man named Edwin T. Pratt.

Pratt died in 1969, after a tragically-short life as a civil rights leader in Seattle. And what Haycox did upon learning who he was … just wonderful.

This girl is 10 years old. The future is so, so bright thanks to kids like her.


A hard-working man gets a generous gift from a stranger, changing his life. John Oliver makes a hilarious “movie” about President Harding. And dogs doing lots of funny stuff

And a Happy Friday to you out there in sweltering Web-land, well, I’m sure it’s sweltering somewhere where ever you are.

Lots of good stuff in Good News Friday this week, but this may be my favorite story of the week. A 20-year-old African-American man named Justin Korva was spotted walking to work in 95-degree Texas heat recently by a guy named Andy Mitchell.

Mitchell offered him a ride, and while driving Korva to work at Taco Casa, Mitchell discovered the young man normally walked three miles to work and home again every day. Korva said he was determined to save up money and someday, he hoped, he would be able to afford a car.

Well, Mitchell was very impressed with Korva’s dedication and posted about him on Facebook. One thing led to another, and, well, just watch this video and go grab a Kleenex.

So, so great. The full details of the story are here.

**Next up today, this is one of the most hilarious segments John Oliver has done in a while. When he and his staff got word the Presidential Wax Museum was shutting down, they of course sprung into action, buying five of them.

But it’s what they planned to do with the wax statue of Warren G. Harding that makes this segment awesome. Starring Anna Kendrick, Campbell Scott, Michael McKeon and others, it’s “Harding.” And it’s fantastic.

**Finally today, my wife found this video on the Facebook page of an organization called The Mind Awakened, and I think it’s pretty hilarious.

Inside the brain of dogs, a few examples showing that maybe, just maybe, they’re not the brightest animals in the kingdom. But they sure are funny.

A mostly TV post, starring the awesome “Billions” and the really great “Better Call Saul.” And John Oliver brings us Eminem vs. New Zealand

Not going to sit here and complain about that awful performance by my New York Rangers last night, a season-ending awful performance. Nope, they’re not worth my time or aggravation.

So let’s start today with a TV post; I haven’t done one of these in a while but just about every show I’m watching these days is in the middle of a fantastic season, so I want to talk about two of them.

First off, it’s pretty rare that a series gets better from Season 1 to Season 2. “Breaking Bad” did it, “The West Wing” did, and maybe a couple others, but usually, quality either stays the same or regresses significantly (see: “The Wire,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Homeland,” etc.)

But man oh man has “Billions” been sensational in Season 2, far and away better than a really good Season 1 (Don’t worry, no spoilers about the season finale here, I know it’s only been a couple days.)

Damien Lewis has been so, so good this season, as billionaire Bobby Axelrod, going from cocky-as-hell to scared, from sympathetic to “oh man he’s such an ass,” often in the course of the same episode. Paul Giamatti as U.S. district attorney-turned-governor candidate Chuck Rhoades, has also been fabulous this year.

The show has been hilarious this year (Wags gets the best lines, from his “this deal stinks worse than Billy Batts in a trunk” to his “you mean the petting zoo?”), it’s been a little heartbreaking, and the supporting cast, with new characters like Taylor (whose gender is unknown), and SEC investigator Dake (smarmy and awesome)  being so solid alongside returnees like Wendy Rhoades and Cafferty, has been sensational as well.

The penultimate episode last week was pure perfection, as we got to see a half hour of Axe celebrating, thinking his dirty tricks have ruined Rhoades and his father, to the final 10 minutes when we learn Chuck has been playing Axe the whole time, and the whole situation blew up in Axe’s face.

I cannot, cannot recommend “Billions” enough. It has taken a giant leap forward this season. If you need a new show to binge-watch, this is the one for you.

**Next up, wanted to talk about another show that has been awesome this season (no, not ‘The Americans,” which I worship but hasn’t been quite up to its usual standards), “Better Call Saul.” I had high hopes for this show when it started, given it was a “Breaking Bad” spinoff, though I feared it wouldn’t be able to sustain itself.

But we’re early in Season 3 and it’s still fantastic, and getting better. The two separate, parallel shows, featuring Jimmy McGill on his way toward becoming shyster lawyer Saul Goodman, and ultimate fixer Mike Ehrmantrout trying to figure out the New Mexico drug war and one of its key players, Gus Fring (it is SO damn good to have him back in my life) have both been fascinating so far this year.

Jimmy so much would like to be a good man and a good, honest lawyer, but circumstances and the worst angels of his nature keep getting in the way, and in the way of fellow attorney Kim Wexler truly falling in love with him.

“Better Call Saul” has had a great slow build, such a great slow build that as brilliant TV critic Alan Sepinwall points out, you want them to hurry up and get to Jimmy becoming Saul, but you don’t want that because the leadup has been so measured and great.

“Better Call Saul” is getting better and better. Can’t wait to see how good it will be next week.

**Finally today, this cracked me up, as “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” almost always does. It’s a short video about a ridiculous court case in New Zealand, involving Eminem, a campaign song, and some fantastic, shocked looks from politicians.

I’m with John, I totally would watch this trial.


Bill O’Reilly’s actually gonna fall, and I’m shocked. A pro tennis match gets interrupted by people having sex. And Stanley Cup playoff hockey making me tear my (little remaining) hair out

Looks like a sacred cash cow, the biggest one on cable TV, is finally being let out of the barn.

I loathe Bill O’Reilly for the same reasons most people do: He’s a smug, arrogant blowhard who acts the fool on television and riles up millions of people with angry rhetoric, often racist and sexist in tone.  He was rude and dismissive during his interviews with Barack Obama when he was President, and his complete disregard for facts was disgusting.

Still, O’Reilly attracts a huge audience and makes a ton of money, and brings in a boatload of cash for Fox News, so I figured he was pretty much bulletproof from any scandal, including the recent New York Times investigation that showed he was a serial sexual harasser.

Let’s face it, TV executives don’t care what their talent does, as long as the money train keeps rolling. But O’Reilly’s advertisers have started running away from him like viewers should have years ago, and Fox is apparently now getting ready to can him.

I’m kind of stunned. O’Reilly’s shtick (and he admits off-camera that it is a shtick) was still pulling in big numbers for Fox. But after the Roger Ailes sexual scandal last year, maybe Fox didn’t feel like fighting this one, too.

Good riddance, Bill O. You deserve all the public scorn you are getting. John Oliver, take it away…

**So this is something you don’t see every day: Frances Tiafoe and Mitchell Krueger are two young American pro tennis players, and Tuesday they were playing a match at the Sarasota Open, a minor-league-level event in Florida that was watched by a crowd of dozens.

Midway through the second set, with Tiafoe about to serve, he hears some very strange noises. At first he thinks it’s from a phone, but nope… it’s a couple having very energetic sex in an apartment a few feet away from the court.

So many things I love about the above video, but the announcer trying to stay calm and explain without explaining what’s going on is great. Also, stay tuned for Tiafoe’s shout at the 1:56 mark, which is I’m sure what everyone else was thinking.

Been watching tennis a loooong. time. Never seen this before. Awesome.

**Finally today, a few words about the delightful agony and ecstasy of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs so far.

My New York Rangers continue to baffle me, but at least they’re still alive and kicking in the playoffs. After blowing a late lead last Friday night and losing in overtime against Montreal (by the way, there have been a ton of overtime games so far this year, which makes me happy, but so many of them have been over so quickly. Come on, give us a triple-OT thriller, NHL!) my Blueshirts decided to not show up Sunday night in Game 3 at MSG, the world’s quietest arena. Truly, they played awful, and I had low expectations for last night.

But what do you know, the Rangers actually played a really strong game and beat Montreal, 2-1, Tuesday night, to even the series at 2. They could’ve scored at least 3 or 4 more goals but as usual decided that shooting the puck was a less attractive option than trying to make the perfect, beautiful pass.

Anyway, the series is probably going to go seven games, which is always nice, because I really want to tear out my four remaining hairs on top of my head.

Besides the Rangers series, I’ve been loving what I’ve seen from the Maple Leafs, who have won two straight overtime games over top-seed Washington and look like they may actually be the beneficiaries of yet another Caps playoff choke.

St. Louis and Nashville both stunningly are up 3-0, and I have no idea why Columbus is playing so poorly in being down 3-1 to Pittsburgh. Also, nice to see the referees have decided not to call any penalties this year (sarcasm).

Anyway, playoff hockey makes me very happy, especially all the overtimes.


I’m off to Cali-forn-ia for 10 days, whoo-hoo! John Oliver with a great segment on marijuana laws’ unfairness. And the Democrats better stay strong on Gorsuch filibuster


All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

California Dreamin, on a sunny day…

Every once in a while a person should fly from one coast to another with an excitable 2.5 year old, don’t you think?

The Lewis trio is off to sunny, drought-ravaged, liberal-loving California today, for 10 hopefully glorious days. The impetus for the trip is that my wonderful mother turned 70 a few months ago and wanted the whole family to go away somewhere nice.

Costa Rica was the first choice, but with Zika still out there and no vaccine, she was understandably wary. So then she settled on San Diego, which no one could possibly disagree with.  Place is 72 degrees and sunny 300 days of the year, who could have a problem with that?

We’re flying to L.A. first, going to hang out with some friends, including this dude who fled his home state for sunnier pastures, angering me greatly (it also angers me when he posts photos from the beach in February, but I’ll forgive him eventually.)

We’re going to stay in a rental house for a week in Padres-ville, and I’m excite to show my little guy the wonders of Sea World (I know, I know, they mistreat the whales, I’ve heard all about “Blackfish.” But I hear it’s getting better), the awesomeness of the San Diego Zoo, and probably LegoLand, where we may never be able to escape because it looks awesome with water rides on Lego boats and my son’s mind will be blown.

Anyhow, should be a lot of fun; California is a great escape from all the GOP destruction of America right now, so I’m going to try not to pay attention to the news for a few days (Call me if there’s a new war, or an impeachment hearing.

All of this is to say, there probably won’t be the usual three-blogs-per-week next week. I’ll have something for Good News Friday this Friday, then probably post some thoughts on our S.D. adventure next Wednesday or Friday, and that’ll be it until Monday, April 17.

Play nice, children.

**Next up today, John Oliver’s fantastic HBO show has been back for a few weeks and honestly I’m feeling a little let down by it; he’s still hilarious, of course, and his zebra sketch was an all-time classic, but I’m a little bothered he’s doing Trump stories every week; we get those so many other places that I come to John Oliver for the less-covered stories.

Anyway, he absolutely nailed his main story this week, a subject very important to me: The ridiculous and cruel way that legal marijuana dispensaries and users are dealt with, and how absurd so many of these laws are (I still can’t get past that pot is considered a Schedule 1 narcotic, while heroin is given a lesser designation.)

Watch to the end, where we see just how impossible it is to stay within the law even if you live in a state that has passed pot legalization. Fantastic stuff, John.

**And finally today, just a few words on the national disgrace that is the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch expected to be approved this week: First, I cannot fathom Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, Colorado’s Michael Bennet, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin refusing to filibuster Gorsuch with their fellow Democrats; all four deserve all the scorn and ridicule from my party that they’re getting.

This idea that Democratic Senators are bringing the Senate to a “new and historic low” as gasbag Mitch McConnell says, is ludicrious. The Senate refused to vote on a legit, bipartisan-approved candidate last year in Merrick Garland, an unprecedented move in our history, but the Dems should just roll over and approve the right-wing Gorsuch, who will move the Court right?

I know some of my friends are queasy about McConnell blowing up the Senate rules and declaring that from now on, a Supreme Court justice needs only a simple majority to get on the bench.

But you know what? Call his damn bluff. Demographics and the “leadership” of Donald Trump have made the Democratic Party’s future election prospects look bright, and if McConnell wants to blow up the rules, let him. They’ll come back to bite him in the butt in the future.

Glad Chuck Schumer and most Dems (Heitkamp and Manchin are basically Republicans anyway) are finally showing some spine here. We’re in an awful mess in this country right now, but standing up for what’s right is never a bad idea.


The Emmy Awards mostly get it right, except for “The Americans” snub. And the Giants are undefeated, the Browns are still the Browns, and more NFL Week 2 thoughts


The Emmy Awards, my favorite awards show of the year, was Sunday, and my excitement was higher than usual because finally, finally, finally!, the best show on TV, “The Americans,” got a whole bunch of nominations, after being shamefully ignored for the past three seasons.

And, well, “The Americans” got shut out. As did “Fargo,” which was incredible, and as did “Better Call Saul,” which was also fantastic. But I don’t know if it’s that the voters are getting smarter or more diverse or what, but the last few years have seen a whole lot of well-deserving shows and individuals get victories.

A not-so-brief recap of the highs (tons of ’em!) and lows (just a few) of the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted Emmys Sunday night:

— First, Kimmel. I thought his opening monologue and O.J. jokes were good, and the Matt Damon bit amused me. But maybe we could’ve heard the winner’s speeches a little more if we didn’t waste 10 minutes on a stupid PB&J bit, huh? Still, overall Kimmel was solid. Though I still think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler should host every awards show, ever, from now on.

— So many deserving winners I’m happy for: John Oliver, who does such important, meaningful and hilarious stories that shed light on under-covered issues; Patton Oswalt, who’s always been under the radar but is always good; Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” was sensational. And “Key & Peele” winning in their last season was fabulous.

— My wife nearly fell off the couch in shock when Tatiana Maslany won for “Orphan Black.” Apparently she’s fabulous in that show (my wife watches, I don’t.)

— Best dressed (again, according to my wife, the fashion expert of the two of us): Regina King, Kerry Washington, Allison Janney. Worst? Kristen Bell looked like she was wearing a leftover Thanksgiving decoration. And the Terrence Howard outfit? Yeesh.

— Great acceptance speeches by Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson (trying to redeem Marcia Clark’s rep, but I wasn’t buying it, Clark blew that case), and Julia-Louis Dreyfus, who got all choked up talking about her Dad at the end. Also loved how genuinely stunned Kate MacKinnon was, shows much these meaningless awards really mean to nominees.


— Of all the people I didn’t expect to see at the Emmys… a Jeb Bush sighting? He was great. If he had shown even an ounce of that personality on the campaign trail, America might not be stuck with the vulgar, talking yam right now.

— Solid death montage this year, but Prince as the hammer? Guy is absolutely a legend, but he’s not exactly a TV star. I guess you could say his MTV videos were revolutionary, but …

— Nice to see “Transparent” win again, and Jeffrey Tambor’s tribute to Garry Shandling was sweet. But I’m surprised neither Tambor nor Jill Soloway made mention of North Carolina’s awful HB2 law.

— Biggest snubs besides “The Americans?” Bokeem Woodbine and Kirsten Dunst in “Fargo,” and HBO’s “All the Way” not getting anything.

— Finally, you think O.J. was allowed to watch the Emmys in his jail cell? I mean, he was pretty much the star of the night.


**One of those rare stress-free autumn Sundays for me, since the Jets already played on Thursday night (I absolutely loathe Thursday night NFL games, because they’re almost always poorly played, it’s barbaric to make these players play 2 games in four days, and when it’s the Jets, I’m usually too revved up to sleep for hours afterwards).

The early games were pretty dull for a few hours, until we got some outstanding finishes. Some quick-hit thoughts on Week 2…

— So of course the Patriots jumped out to a huge lead thanks to Wonder Boy Jimmy Garoppolo, who then got hurt which meant their 3rd-stringer, Jacoby Brissett, had to come in and the Pats hung on to beat the pathetic Dolphins, 31-24, and now of course Brissett will turn out to be the next Joe Montana and lead New England to two more wins until the ORIGINAL Wonder Boy, Giselle Bundchen’s husband, comes back. Things just always work out for the Patriots.

— I feel like every year I need to publicly thank God that as painful as it is being a Jets fan, it could be worse; I could be a Cleveland Browns rooter. The Browns grabbed a shocking 20-0 lead in the first quarter Sunday over the Ravens, and then, because they’re the Browns, proceeded to give up the next 25 points and lose, 25-20. Thank God LeBron James brought that city a title, because they sure as heck ain’t getting a Super Bowl win anytime soon.

— Great note from writer Alan M. Cole on Twitter Sunday: How old is Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri? He once tackled Herschel Walker. Herschel Walker! Who started his pro career in 1984!

— I didn’t think it was possible, but the officiating seems to be getting even worse this year. A bunch of blown calls Sunday, in the Bengals-Steelers and Giants-Saints games in particular. With replay, this stuff is NOT that difficult.

— The Giants are either the worst 2-0 team ever or the luckiest. They tried really, really hard to give away that 16-13 win over the Saints, but New Orleans refused to take it.

— Funniest part of my day: A guy in my usual sports bar was trying to explain how fantasy football worked to his girlfriend, telling her it’s better if this team’s drive stalls because his kicker needs points, and how it’s good when that guy throws an interception, yada yada yada. Poor woman had the same glazed-over look in her eyes that I used to get in Mr. Pizo’s 11th-grade chemistry class. After about 10 minutes, she gave him a look like, “Enough, I just don’t care.”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt with best “Lip Sync Battle” performance ever. John Oliver shuts up the GOP about Syrian refugee lies. And Spanish-lanaguage announcers go nuts over Greg Olsen’s TD

And a Happy Turkey Day eve to all of my wonderful readers. I’ve noticed I’ve been rather wordy and “Infinite Jest”-y with my posts lately, so today we’re just going short and sweet (much like my vertically-challenged self!).

Three fantastic videos I greatly enjoyed, that I know you will too.

First, celebrities lip-syncing to famous songs has become a TV phenomenon, and Spike TV’s “Lip Sync Battle” has given us some awesome performances. But from now on, the standard has been set: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, at the top, and a long way beneath him.

Watch as the actor performs an epic, scarily-perfect re-creation of Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” video. (If I didn’t embed this properly to start right at the beginning of his song, fast forward to 2:02).

It is beyond sensational.

**Next up, I am so sick and so tired of people I know, people on Facebook, and most frighteningly, politicians on TV who are supposed to KNOW something lying and lying and lying about how “easy” it is for Syrian refugees to enter America, and how there’s no screening process, and everyone just gets right in and wanders around and are free to blow stuff up because all refugees are terrorists!

It is xenophobic, it is disgusting, but more than that, it’s 100 percent factually false.

I urge you to watch this John Oliver clip where he perfectly deconstructs this lie, shows just how arduous it is to be admitted as a refugee, and just for fun, gives us some background on FDR and his pecadillos.

Seriously, if anyone at your Thanksgiving table starts blurting out nonsense about “we gotta keep all refugees out,” please show them this. As a public service (the full clip is here, for some reason it’s not totally available on YouTube).

**Finally today, shout-out to loyal blog reader (and my first cousin) Rob for pointing this out to me Tuesday. We sometimes hear the awesomeness of soccer broadcasters in Spanish getting insanely excited for great plays, but not as much for American football.

But after hearing this call of a touchdown by Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers last Sunday by Jaime Moreno and Luis Moreno Jr. (maybe they’re related?), I pretty much want to hear every NFL highlight called in Spanish. (My favorite part is when they’re screaming at him to dance around the :20 mark.)

Seriously, how great are these guys? And this was just a basic TD; imagine how they’d sound on flea-flicker or a game-winning score! (Actually, we don’t have to imagine. Just found this Olsen game-winning TD on YouTube. God bless the Internet.)

The death of a neighborhood supermarket (ours). The announcer who fell asleep on the air. And John Oliver, brilliant again on prisoner re-integration


They are the tentpoles of every neighborhood that makes it unique, that tell you exactly where you are in the world.

I don’t care what neighborhood you live in, you know what I’m talking about. The pizza place with the employees watching some European soccer game on TV while flipping your pies. The dry cleaners, with plastic bags billowing everywhere. The electronics store, with the eager young employees trying to sell you the latest gadget.

And of course, we all have a neighborhood supermarket. It’s a place we visit all the time, and we know its aisles like the back of our hand. We stroll through at least once a week, smile at the cashiers, thank the deli counter woman for giving you a free tasting slice of the new ham, and then go on our way.

The neighborhood supermarket is always there, dependable no matter what you need. It becomes part of the fabric of your life.

Until one day, you walk in and the shelves look half-empty, there’s hardly any milk or juice available, and you ask one of the regular workers whose face you see all the time what’s up.

“We’re closing,” he said. “Mid-November at the latest.”

This just happened in our neighborhood, and I can assure you my wife and I aren’t the only ones crushed.

The Food Emporium under the 59th Street bridge in New York City, hard by the corner of 1st Avenue, may not look like much to you, even though its location makes it visually stunning to glance at.
To us in the neighborhood, it was special. For one thing, it was so much bigger than most Manhattan markets (I just looked it up and it is 35,000 square feet!), with wide aisles and much bigger selection than any other market in the boro I’ve been to. (Also, the echo you hear in the store from the bridge is awesome)

For another, it’s where we knew everyone, and they knew us. My man Robert behind the hot prepared foods counter would always smile at my son in his stroller, and then toss an extra grilled chicken breast, free of charge, into my order.
There were the identical twin adult women working the register; one day they worked side by side and totally freaked my wife out. They were always smiling, always happy to answer questions.

I’ll even miss the monosyllabic guy at the sushi and fish counter, who always moved things around just a little bit so you’d be confused looking for the salmon.

These people help make up the daily bread of my life, and in a few days they’ll all be out of a job. Food Emporium’s parent, A&P, filed for bankruptcy, and is closing several of its NYC stores.

We’d heard rumors, but nothing was confirmed. Now it’s official and so sad; I walked in on Monday since everything was 50 percent off and found a practically empty place.

Robert behind the counter was gone, and the twins weren’t there, either.

The beat of the neighborhood goes on, but it’s a little sadder, emptier place now.

**Next up, I’ve written a lot about prisoner rehabilitation and re-integration issues on the blog, because it’s an issue I feel deeply about. How shabbily we treat those who come out of prison is a national disgrace, and John Oliver has been the best person on TV highlighting everything wrong with our criminal justice system.

This week he nailed it again with a great, moving story on how poorly those who are released from penitentiaries are re-integrated into society. It’s a 17-minute piece, but it’s fantastic, especially if you can hang in until the end, when we meet Bilal for a live in-studio interview. Just listen to this man, and tell me people can’t change.

Fabulous stuff.

**Finally today, we all know sports announcers have to sometimes call boring games, or call games at crazy hours of the night because the viewers back home in another time zone are watching.

So let’s just all have a chuckle and then forgive Chinese sportscaster Dong Lu, who while commentating on a Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain match last week, in the wee hours of the morning (China time), kinda sorta dozed off.

Listen for the snoring, it’s kinda hard to miss.

Poor guy. I could make A LOT of jokes here about falling asleep and the incredibly slow pace of soccer, but I won’t.

More Red Bull and coffee next time, Dong.