Tag Archives: Michael Jackson

Good News Friday: Finally, pork that us Jews can eat! A Sister Jean tribute video to get you ready for the Final Four. And finally, Adnan from “Serial” gets a new trial

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there in Internet-land. It’s a “Good” Good News Friday for many of you; Happy Easter to my Christian readers, Happy Pesach to my fellow Hebrews, and you know, for the rest of you, have a nice weekend.

I spent Thursday night/Friday morning prepping for a colonoscopy, so I feel very certain you’ve all had a more pleasant morning than what I’m having now. But the show must go on!

First up today, seeing as it is Passover it seems like a good time to celebrate this story. Finally, after so many years wandering the desert and fearing we’re going to be in real trouble if we eat bacon, scientists have done it: They’ve invented a pork that Jews can actually eat!

No seriously, this is a thing: An Israeli rabbi named Yuval Cherlew has said that lab-grown pork would be kosher for consumption by Jews — even when eaten with dairy products.

From this story in the Times of Israel: The good rabbi told the Ynet news site in an interview published Wednesday that “cloned” meat is not subject to the rules that apply to the consumption of regular meat.

In the interview, Cherlow of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization appeared to be talking about meat that is grown artificially in a laboratory from the cells of a pig, rather than meat produced from a live pig whose genetic material comes from a cell from which the pig was cloned.

When the “cell of a pig is used and its genetic material is utilized in the production of food, the cell in fact loses its original identity and therefore cannot be defined as forbidden for consumption,” Cherlow said. “It wouldn’t even be meat, so you can consume it with dairy.”

WHOO-HOOO! Bacon cheeseburgers for everybody in the synagogue, holler!

Seriously, this is great news. I’m not sure exactly why someone would want to eat cloned meat, but hey, if it makes a difference to you, real pork tastes amazing when done right.

**Next up, it’s Final Four weekend, and of course the big story of the whole tournament has been Loyola-Chicago and its amazing 98-year-old team chaplain, a nun named Sister Jean-Delores Schmidt.

Sister Jean is amazing, she’s got her own bobblehead doll now, and thanks to brilliant people at TheRinger.com, she has a wonderful mash-up tribute video, set to the Michael Jackson classic “Billie Jean.”

This is totally brilliant. Rock on, Sister Jean.

**And finally today, I’m sure many of  you remember the incredible sensation the podcast “Serial” was a few years ago, as the “This American Life” radio show spinoff captivated the nation (175 million downloads) with the case of convicted murderer Adnan Syed, a Baltimore high school kid who allegedly murdered his girlfriend.

“Serial” completely uncovered holes and problems with the case, from ineffective performance by Syed’s lawyer, to witnesses ignored, to police intimidation/coercion of the prosecution’s star.

After so much malfeasance and questions were brought to light, I was certain of this: I didn’t know if Syed had killed Hae Min Lee or not, but I knew for damn sure he deserved a new trial, because there was a whole lot of reasonable doubt there.

And now, finally, he’s getting one. Thursday the Maryland Court of Special Appeals vacated Syed’s murder conviction, ordering a new trial to be held.

Fantastic news. I really hope “Serial” makes its next season the re-trial of Adnan Syed. Would be gripping stuff.

 

Attending a college graduation this weekend spurs thoughts of my own, 20 years ago. Billy Joel and Axl Rose duet together on stage. Seriously. And the end of the reign of “Michael.”

I’m a pretty nostalgic guy, both for my own childhood, and for the world in general, and when it comes to my own life, I always find myself thinking about milestones, anniversaries, and key dates in my four decades on Earth.

But for some reason the fact that this year is the 20th anniversary of my college graduation has totally snuck up on me. I thought about it a few times as my wonderful alma mater, the University of Delaware, sent me emails reminding me to come to alumni weekend and oh yeah, donate some money as well.

But with life being busy, I just haven’t spent much time thinking about it. Until Saturday, when the wife and little boy and I went to Fordham University’s commencement. We went because two of our babysitters, Juily and Caroline, were graduating, and we love them for many reasons, including how great they are with our boy, and we wanted to show our support.

The graduation itself was pretty run-of-the-mill, a speaker droning on, but then hearing the individual names of the students being honored got me thinking.

It is still, and probably always be, a pretty huge deal to graduate, and watching the pride and excitement of these 21 and 22-year-olds walk across a stage, shake hands with a dean, and then look excitedly into the mass of people in the crowds while trying to find their families, was special to watch.

I always knew going to college was completely expected of me, and I never once thought it was an option not to graduate.  But still, that day back in 1997 felt so important. I felt like I had accomplished something; I’d worked hard in college but not always in class, my sweat equity was mostly saved for endless hours at the school newspaper, learning and falling in love with what would be my profession.

The idea that this was the end of my educational journey struck me as both exciting and terrifying; my life had always been organized around September being the beginning of a new year; I remember in September 1997 feeling totally strange for a few days with no school to go to; what, you mean the summer ends and I don’t have any books or homework to worry about?

That graduation day 20 years ago was a milestone I was proud of; my fellow Blue Hens and I (worst mascot in America but we loved it) knew we had accomplished something.

Watching those Fordham grads strut a little after their ceremony on Saturday, the old memories, and pride, came flowing back.

Congratulations to any and all college graduates this spring; it is still a very big deal and quite a worthy accomplishment.

**Next up today, I know there’s a great tradition in live music concerts for the star performer to bring up a “special guest” or a “great friend” who’s also a mega-famous singer, but never in a million years would I have expected these two to be up on stage together.

Yet last week at Dodgers Stadium, Billy Joel brought on his “friend” Axl Rose, to sing AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” and the Piano Man’s own “Big Shot.”

I was a huge Guns N’ Roses fan way back when, and I’ve loved Billy Joel since I was 10, but seeing them on stage together here is… weird. It is an interesting juxtaposition to think of their careers together, though: Rose had a huge impact all at once, becoming incredibly famous and then crashing and burning and never really recovered from the crush of fame he received. He’s had so many problems over the years, from drugs and alcohol to showing up hours late for concerts, and he’s so unreliable that he doesn’t have much of a career anymore.

Joel, meanwhile, started off small and slowly, built a reputation as a great songwriter and singer, and has seen his fame endure for, what, at least 40 years now. He’s had lots of problems, too (bankruptcy, drinking and driving) but kept his head down and just kept performing, and now he’s a bullet-proof icon.

Anyway, just a thought. Watch the video and tell me if it’s as weird for me as it is for you.

**Finally today, a small “funeral” for my first name. For the past 45 years, Michael has been one of the most popular, if not the most popular, boys name for parents. Not one class I was ever in, from kindergarten through college, was I the only Michael. Always had to ask the teacher for the last name of the Michael they were looking for.

Lots of times, I wish I had a unique name. There were too many Michael’s in the world, I always felt; why’d my parents have to be so trendy? (And don’t get me started on the early 1980s problems we had, when Life cereal ran their “Mikey Likes It” commercials 24/7, and we Michael’s had to endure being called “Mikey” for years.” Then again, Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan had our name so that wasn’t too bad.)

But now, the reign of Michael seems to have officially ended. New numbers released by the Social Security Administration show Michael to have slipped to 8th place in 2016, and at its lowest level since 1940.

The Liams, Noahs and Masons of our world have all edged Michael aside. And I’m a little sad, surprisingly. I liked being so popular 🙂

Store salesmen and distance: How much is enough? Michael Jackson comes back to life, freakily, in a hologram performance. And a cool video destroying young black male stereotypes.

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Thoughts while salivating at the thought that the New York Rangers are seven wins (SEVEN! as Monica Geller might scream) away from the Stanley Cup:

So Sunday afternoon the wife and I, along with my mother-in-law, are on Long Island at a furniture store, looking for bedroom sets to put in soon-to-be- Baby Lewis’ room.

And there’s a very nice salesman named Rafael helping us out. He showed us a few of the combinations my wife had found online, then showed us a few we hadn’t seen, and it was all standard stuff.

After about 20 minutes of touring the showroom, we thanked him and said we needed to talk a few things over.

He smiled and then glided about 10 feet away. And then stood there. And tried to make it seem like he wasn’t listening to our conversation.

Hey, maybe he wasn’t listening. But it was awkward, and it always is in these situations. Rafael had decided, somewhere along the line in his career, that 10 feet is far enough away to give customers’ space, but not too far away where they couldn’t find him if we had questions.

But it was uncomfortable for me, like it always is. I always feel like the salesmen are hovering, just waiting to pounce, and can’t wait to hear that “Yes, we’ll take it!” coming from someone’s mouth, and he can earn his commission.

But as the customer, you feel a little pressured. You want to be able to talk about what you just saw and maybe criticize some of it, but you’re afraid the guy will hear you, and I never want to rip a person’s stuff in front of them.

But you know, that little confab you have with your loved ones is really when the decision gets made, and I just wish the salespeople would, you know, go for a few laps around the store or something, and he could give us one of those electronic paging device thingies they use at restaurants now when there’s a line, and we could buzz him if we needed him or wanted to buy something.

It’s just an uncomfortable dance for everybody, ya know? Anyone out there with a solution, I’m all ears.

**Next up today, I’m not sure where the tipping point comes with music awards shows and doing crazy technological stuff to amaze the public, but this one last night at the Billboard Music Awards freaked me out pretty good.

Michael Jackson has come back to life; rather, Michael Jackson’s incredible holographic image has come back to life.
I watched it twice and I gotta say, even though the dance moves look pretty stiff (pun intended) and the hologram’s face doesn’t look that much like MJ, it’s still pretty visually stunning.

If the YouTube clip I embedded up above is down by the time you read this, click here.

**Finally today, I thought this was different and encouraging. A group of African-American high school students in Illinois were tired of all the tired stereotypes of young black men, that they’re all thugs who dress badly, act badly, and contribute nothing.

So they dressed up in suits and ties, and made this pretty cool video called “Suit and Tie in the 217.”

Good News Friday: Michael Jackson blows me away in new doc. Andrew Luck makes a 6-year-old cancer patient happy. And the cabbie who returned $900,000.

After enduring about 1 1/2 quarters of some of the most disgusting, disgraceful football you’ll ever see from a team (thanks, New York Jets, for nearly making me hurl what was a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner), I flipped over to ABC at 9:30 p.m. to catch what I hoped would be a terrific show: Spike Lee’s documentary on Michael Jackson’s legendary “Bad” album, from 1987.

It was sensational. It’s been a few years since MJ died so I hadn’t been thinking about him much, but when you think about how phenomenal that “Bad” album was, with five consecutive No. 1 singles, it boggles the mind.
I know there’s no way to measure something like this, but Jackson had to have had the greatest chasm in history between “incredible, once-in-a lifetime talent” and personal demons/screwed-up life.

The documentary, told through the eyes of most of the people who worked on “Bad,” basically illustrated how uniquely talented Jackson was; who knew that among his other many talents, he could’ve sung bass but chose not to? Who knew that he laid down all the harmonies and lead vocals together for his songs?

The man was a true genius, with his feet, with his voice, and with his musical brain.
Other things I learned from this doc, and I highly recommend watching it if ABC put it online…

— After years of wondering, now we all know who the heck “Annie” is, during the highly-addictive “Smooth Criminal” chorus “Annie are you OK?”  She is a CPR dummy that Jackson was working with while learning CPR during the writing of the song. Never in a million years would I have guessed that.
— The model at the end of “The Way You Make Me Feel” video was told not to kiss him at the end because MJ was shy.
–The funniest thing in the doc was seeing Sheryl Crow as a Jackson backup singer, with incredibly big hair. I know it was the 80s, but I never knew Sheryl rocked the Aqua-Net that much.
— Very moving sequence with everyone Lee interviewed getting choked up when talking about Jackson’s death. It’s obvious how almost everyone who worked with him loved and admired him.

We’ll never see anyone like Jackson again, and 25 years after “Bad,” it was great to be reminded of that. Bravo, Spike Lee.

**There are so many reasons to like Indianapolis Colts rookie QB Andrew Luck.
By every account, he’s humble. He graduated from Stanford in three years, but stayed a fourth year because he loved college football so much.
In his rookie season, while trying to replace the legend Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, he’s shown poise and accuracy in stunningly leading the Colts to a 6-4 record so far.

But here’s why I like Andrew Luck today: My good buddy Jeff Pearlman lives next door to a 6-year-old kid named Andrew Cohen, who cruelly suffers from a rare cancer called neuroblastoma.
The poor kid has had a rough life, but last year he took a liking to Andrew Luck, that really good Stanford QB.
Well, thanks to Luck being alerted, he sent Andrew this signed football to help him in his battle.
Look at that kid’s face. And then tell me that athletes aren’t role models, and can’t have an enormous impact with just a small little gesture.

**Finally, here’s to the most honest cabdriver in the world, from Thailand.
A man named Sia Ka Tian returned $900,000 left in his cab this week.

Sia Ka Tian, 70, found the money a vacationing couple left in his cab on Monday, and turned it all in to authorities. The grateful couple gave him a little reward, but I loved Tian’s quote.

“The money is unimportant to me. It doesn’t belong to me, so how can I use it?”

A good soul, that Mr. Tian is.  Now, what the hell that couple was doing with $900,000 in a cab is another matter…

R.I.P. John Hughes, the director of my childhood

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Every generation has voices who spoke to them. Older voices who were the soundtracks and the video reels of our childhood.

Sure. we romanticize them sometimes. But they’re as much a part of our growing up as Little League and Girl Scouts, camping trips and hallway lockers.

This summer, my generation lost its soundtrack in Michael Jackson. And now we’ve lost our filmmaker in the legendary John Hughes.

Generation X has suffered two body blows in the matter of months. I swear to God, if Madonna gets hit by a bus next week, I think I may lose it.

To say I loved John Hughes movies is like saying I kind of like chocolate chip cookies.

I’m certain I can quote three of his eight directed films, line for line, by heart. Just get me started on any scene from “The Breakfast Club” (“This is what you get in my house, when you spill paint in the garage!”), “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (Didn’t you notice on the plane, when you started talking, eventually I started reading the vomit bag!”) or “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (“You’re Abe Froman? The sausage king of Chicago?”), and I’m gone for 20 minutes.

It’s incredible to me that in eight films, he left such a mark. He also wrote “Mr. Mom,” “Weird Science,” and “She’s Having a Baby,” three more that will always live in the 1980s canon.

Hughes’ brilliance was shown in so many ways. For one thing, he didn’t condescend to the viewers. He actually created real characters who talked like real high schoolers, and he painted a portrait of kids who we all could identify with.

Who didn’t know a Stef from “Pretty in Pink,” or “The Geek” in “Sixteen Candles”? This was the first time I felt like a movie was really about people who could’ve existed in my life.

Then there was the writing. Hughes’ scripts were always filled with laughter and fantastic one-liners, but they also contained so much heart.

That scene in “The Breakfast Club” where they’re all sitting around the library and Emilio Estevez is talking about taping Larry Lester’s buns together is so surprisingly moving. The ending of “Pretty in Pink” is so sweet, too, with Ducky finally blowing out his torch for Andie and encouraging her to go find Blane.

Hughes had the ability to infuse a scene with warmth and make you melt inside, but not go too far into mushy territory.

Thinking about him tonight, as I’m sure millions of people my age are, I’m blown away at how often I’ve quoted a Hughes movie, or watched one of them on cable (OK, so they’re on every 10 minutes somewhere, I still can’t skip past them), or referenced it in everyday life.

Say the name “Jake Ryan” and my wife’s eyes light up and a huge smile comes to her face. Was any 80s movie character more beloved by girls than he was? Mention Steve Martin and John Candy in the same sentence, and so many people think of “Those aren’t pillows!”

Literally every time my best childhood friends Andrew, Marc, Tracie and I are together, one of us will quote a line from “The Breakfast Club.” Every. Single. Time.

The Brat Pack shot to fame thanks to Hughes (if you have to ask who the Brat Pack are, I will feel really old), and he used the same actors over and over because they perfectly embodied what he wanted.

John Hughes didn’t win Oscars like Francis Ford Coppola, and he won’t go down as a cinematic genius like Oliver Stone or Steven Spielberg.

But if the true mark of a person is what kind of legacy you’ve left, and how many lives you affected, John Hughes was a giant.

So many of us laughed and cried because of what he created.

Cameron Frye will live in our hearts forever, as will John Bender and Del Griffith and all the rest.

R.I.P. John Hughes, and thanks for directing my childhood.

And now, two classic scenes from John Hughes movies: