Tag Archives: Michael Phelps

“Don’t Think Twice” is a sweet, funny movie you should see. Michael Phelps may be the most dominant athlete ever. And Alex Rodriguez, don’t let the door hit you on the way out


“Has anyone here had a particularly hard day?”

That’s the question the fictional improv group “The Commune” asks at the beginning of every show in the fabulous movie “Don’t Think Twice.” It’s an open-ended question that any audience member can respond to, by saying anything, and then the magic begins: The six comedians onstage take whatever is thrown out and make a hilarious sketch out of it.

Improv comedy is one of the most fun shows you could possibly get into, but it’s also very, very hard, isn’t at all lucrative, and can lead to quite a lot of frustration.

I love Mike Birbiglia, as I’ve expressed on here before, and I love Keegan-Michael Key, and when a movie starring two of my favorite comedians has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 99 percent, I had a feeling I’d love “Don’t Think Twice.”

And I did. This 90-minute little gem of a flick, about an improv group and what happens when one of them makes a “Saturday Night Live”-type show is terrific. I thought it would be funny, and it was. But it was much sweeter and tender than I expected, as we get storylines like Bill (Chris Gethard’s) Dad struggling with health issues, and Miles (Birbiglia) being the elder statesman/teacher character and being forced to watch his pupils have better careers.

Gillian Jacobs is sensational in this movie (I never watched “Community” so I didn’t know her that well), and the dialogue and reactions of the characters feel very real.

“Don’t Think Twice” isn’t playing in wide release, sadly, because in the summer only superhero-type movies make money. But if it’s playing near you, I highly recommend it.

Next up today, another incredible night for American athletes at the Rio Olympics so far, and also might I say me and millions of others may be wrong about these Games being a total disaster? Oh, there have been problems in Rio so far, but not nearly the disaster it appears to be (NBC’s TV coverage, however? Yeah, that’s a disaster).

I promise to write about the fantastic Katie Ledecky sometime soon, but tonight I’m all about Michael Phelps. This guy… I mean, is he more dominant, for a longer period of time, than any athlete, ever? You can say Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky were each on top as long as the 12 years Phelps has, and I would say you’re right.

But Phelps is right there on the same level as MJ and Gretzky, and great as they were, they had teammates. Tuesday night, competing in an event he said he’d never do again (the 200 butterfly), he turned back challenger Chad Le Clos from South Africa and squeaked out yet another gold medal win.

That’s 21 gold medals for Phelps now, more than all but 40 countries have ever won. Phelps has 21 golds, the next closest athletes have NINE. NINE!

The superlatives are useless in describing him, they really are. Guy is a once-every-hundred-years kind of competitor, and we’re lucky we’re alive to see him.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees reacts after lining out to left in the second inning against the San Francisco Giants at Yankee Stadium on July 22, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

**Finally today, a few words about Alex Rodriguez, who’s announcing his retirement from baseball on Friday.

Good. Riddance. One of the most despised players in baseball in the last 40 years, his career is a testament to cheating, phony statements and sentiments, and an overall persona eclipsed in jerkitude (not a word but I’m making it one) by only Barry Bonds.

I’ve been a Yankees fan for 35 years, and he’s far and away my most despised Yankee (Clemens is No. 2). He is one of the greatest players to ever play, with natural talent so many would kill for, and he chose to knowingly cheat, then lie and obfuscate about it for years.

I cannot wait until he’s out of that Yankee uniform for good. Few have disgraced it as much as he has.

The craziest game show idea ever is now a thing, in England. The “USA Freedom Grown-Ups” are hilarious. And the athletes most worth rooting for in Rio don’t have a home country.


I love game shows as much as anyone, maybe more. I’ve talked on this blog several times about my love of “25,000 Pyramid,” “Card Sharks,” and of course, “Jeopardy!”

As good as American game shows are, the overseas ones are even better and crazier. One of my favorite TV shows ever was the short-lived “I Survived Japanese Game Show” on ABC, where they took a bunch of clueless Americans and flew them to Japan and subjected them to some insane and completely silly competitions. I also loved the sadly short-lived “Concentration” game on Comedy Central, where contestants had to answer real questions while having some horrible distraction (like being given an electric shock) done to them.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I thought just about every game show conceit had been invented, but happily, I was wrong. On NPR last week I heard about this insane new show in Britain called “Naked Attraction.” It’s a dating show, sort of.

Here’s how it works: A female contestant gets brought out and she sees silhouettes of six men behind giant screens. The screens then start to rise and stop at the men’s genitals. The woman contestant then examines each man’s package and rates, discusses and eliminates them based on what she sees. The screens then rise up a little more each round, revealing the rest of the men’s bodies before the female contestant chooses which man she’d like to go on a date with.

Then the roles are reversed, as a male contestant sees all kinds of vaginas and judges women on that.

It sounds completely disgusting and ridiculous, but of course it’s been a huge hit and caused all kinds of protests in England. (Brexit? Who’s got time to worry about that anymore?)

Here’s a clip of the show, if you dare. If you’re keeping score (and obviously someone was), one recent episode showed 300 penises.

So many jokes, so little time… I think it’s so funny how British people are always stereotyped as being so prudish about sex, and yet “Naked Attraction” becomes a big thing.

All I know is, if we all were judged by the physical attractiveness of our genitals, 90 percent of the world would still be single.

**Next up today, this story just keeps getting better and better. Remember two weeks ago when I told you about the young singing/cheerleading girls called the USA Freedom Girls who performed at a Donald Trump rally in Florida, then never got their promised payment and reward for the gig?

Well, Stephen Colbert decided that Trump needed to be mocked for this, among so many other things, so he invited the USA Freedom Grown-Ups to perform a similar song about the vulgar, talking yam


**Finally today, the Rio Olympics are only three days in and there have already been some incredible moments. Katie Ledecky, as dominant a swimmer on the women’s side as America has produced, won her first gold medal. Juan Martin del Potro upset world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round of the tennis competition, and then the two shared a fantastic hug at the net, with both men eventually crying. (Don’t tell me the Olympics don’t mean much to pro athletes).

And Michael Phelps won an unfathomable 19th gold medal Sunday night, while Simone Biles showed why she’s going to be the biggest star of these Games.

But for me, the best part of the Games so far has been watching a handful of athletes without a country, walk in the Opening Ceremony. The Refugee Team, made up of athletes from countries like Syria, Ethiopia and South Sudan, have endured so much hardship, and seen unthinkable cruelties, just to survive. So many of them escaped death and despair, losing family members and nearly being killed themselves, that to watch them walk into Maracana Stadium Friday night, to the cheers of thousands, was incredibly heartwarming.

The immensely gifted S.L. Price wrote a fabulous story about how this Refugee Team was formed, and what obstacles they overcame to get here.

The incredible story of Kayla Harrison, gold medalist and abuse survivor. Curbside weddings in Vegas. And the 90 (yes, 90) year-old pole vaulter

A dose of Good News Friday while I contemplate how I wish I could have a super-cool nickname like “The Flying Squirrel” Gabby Douglas (and how amazing was this photo of her…

The most inspiring story of the Olympics so far hasn’t been the amazing Michael Phelps, who beat Ryan Lochte again in the 200 IM Thursday. It’s not the great performances by the U.S. gymnastics team, which have been fabulous.
For me, the most inspiring story is a young lady named Kayla Harrison, who Thursday won a gold medal in women’s judo.

If you don’t know the 22-year-old Harrison’s story yet, here’s a synopsis. As a young girl training in the sport, she came under the guidance of a man named Danny Doyle. He was a very bad man, sexually abusing her for six years, while Harrison stayed quiet about what this man who had such power over her was doing.

“He was my sun,” Harrison has said. “Whatever he wanted, I would do. I thought it was love.”
Finally five years ago Harrison came forward with what Doyle had done to her, and he is now spending 10 years in prison (it oughta be 100 years).
She moved to another state, picked up the pieces of her life, and started training again.

The courage it must’ve taken for her to trust another coach, another adult male. But she did, and she persevered and worked her way to the top of her sport.

“I want other young people to know that you’re only a victim if you allow yourself to be,” she said Thursday. “You can be anything you want to be. Nothing can stop you.”

Kayla Harrison is a true Olympic hero.

**Moving on to other good news, it now has become even easier to get married in Las Vegas.
I know, I know, it was always so tough to begin with.
But now, if you don’t want to wait for a chapel, the Las Vegas Wedding Wagon will give you a 10-minute curbside wedding ceremony for only $99.

See? This is good news for all the people who really want a quickie Vegas wedding.

The van, which comes equipped with a minister, an altar and floral decorations, launched just last week and already has had four pairs of customers, ABC News reported.

**Finally, if you ever feel good about what kind of physical shape you’re in at your age (and I’m excited I ran for 35 minutes on Thursday), just look at Dr. William Bell, and realize we’ll never catch up to him.
Dude is 90, and you’re about to watch him pole vault. 90!

An ode to running in Manhattan. A Nike commercial that got to me. And Olympic swimming is dramatic again

And now, something that may or may not make any sense: A brief ode to running through the streets of Manhattan, which I’ve been doing for the past few weeks after moving there:

Voices shouting, laughing, scolding, consoling. Feet hitting pavement at a brisk pace. Horns honking, insistently, like a mother telling her insolent child to clean their room.
The street signs whiz by in a blur, numbers climbing higher and higher as I run up 1st Avenue. Fifty-seventh, 58th, 59th, after a while you’d think the streets would all look the same.
But each one brings a different landmark that I haven’t noticed before: A bodega with a bright sign; a nail salon with a really bad pun in the window; a yogurt place advertising raspberry creme swirl, whatever that is.
I keep moving and the sounds change. Here’s a dog barking, a guy in a suit yelling about his stock problems. A woman yells at her small daughter to hurry up and cross the street.
Some of this I don’t hear; I’ve got headphones on and Eminem or Survivor or Bruce Springsteen enable me to tune out a lot of the noise.
But some of the city’s cacophony cuts through any soundtrack, and that’s what I love.

The city is alive and inspiring, and time flies and muscles stay energized when you pass by so many people, doing so many different things, making a joyful noise all of its own.

**As usual during the Olympics, the sappy commercials get to me and tug at my heartstrings. I still love this one from Procter and Gamble from four years ago, that they’re re-running during the London Games. This one above, from Nike, is new, and while it’s not about the Olympics, per se, it’s still goosebump-inducing.

The best ads play on our emotions; this one does it beautifully.

**Finally, some Olympic thoughts from a wacky Wednesday in London…
— Say it with me now: Olympic. Badminton. Scandal. You’ve never seen those three words together, have you? But it’s true: eight players were disqualified for intentionally trying to lose matches, in order to get better seeds in the next round.

You’ve got to see the video of these teams trying to lose matches; click here for a bizarre two-minute “highlights” video of each squad trying to lose points on purpose.
— Haven’t seen that much of the Olympic tennis, but my eyes opened wide when I saw that washed-up Lleyton Hewitt nearly beat No. 2 Novak Djokovic before losing. A Federer-Djokovic Olympic final would be sublime.
— Another amazing finish in the pool in the 100 freestyle; American Nathan Adrian beat some Australian guy nicknamed “The Missile” by one-hundredth of a second.
I don’t know how you live with that, losing gold by such a tiny margin. If it were me, I think it’d eat me up inside.
— Big day in the pool Thursday; my man Ryan Lochte swims two finals, one in the 200 IM against Michael Phelps, the other in the 200 back, about 20 minutes earlier. It’s a brutal back-to-back but Lochte’s done it before. I predict he gets one gold, one silver out of it.

Drunk people falling down, set to music. The Amazing Phelps, and other Olympics thoughts. And the science and taste of seedless watermelons

Everything is better and more epic-seeming when it’s set to music. And so I give you a video with no socially redeeming value except that it made me laugh.
Four minutes of drunk people falling down, set to a classic ’80s song, “Take My Breath Away.”

**Another fantastic day at the London Olympics Tuesday, which in the pool, at least, continue to have eerie parallels to the Beijing Games four years ago.

In 2008, the amazing Michael Phelps trailed the whole race in the 200 butterfly, then somehow managed to out-touch Milo Cavic at the end.
Tuesday, it was the exact opposite. Phelps lead the 200 fly the whole way, only to mis-time his finish, and lose to South Africa’s Chad Le Clos by a fingernail.

Later, though, Phelps helped the U.S. win the 4×200 relay and gained his 19th career Olympic medal, most of all time.

That number blows my mind. Do you have any idea how many years, how many thousands and thousands of hours of training, how much sacrifice, goes into just getting to the Olympics, and getting one medal? Caitlin Leverenz, another U.S. swimmer, won a bronze Tuesday night and she wept with joy. It’s SO hard just to get there, and a medal makes it all worth it.
Phelps now has nineteen of ’em. Mind-blowing.
— Great stuff from the American female gymnasts, too, winning the team gold. Every time I watch the Olympics I gasp when they do those crazy leaps off the balance beam. They’re so tiny and yet so incredibly agile; Gabby Douglas looks like a strong breeze would blow her away.

— My vote for the most unfortunately-named Olympian?  Japanese women’s volleyball player Yoshie Takeshita.

— This may not appeal to all of you, but it was the funniest thing I’ve seen a long time. Canadian sportswriter Bruce Arthur was at an incredibly long tennis match Tuesday, won by Jo-Willie Tsonga, 25-23 in the third set over Milos Raonic, a Canadain. Arthur’s tweets from the match were brilliant in their sarcasm and despair; check them out here.

**Finally today, because it’s summer, and this is when we think of watermelons, I present two guys with a lot of time on their hands (and a lot of rubber bands)

Thoughts from the first few wild days at the Olympics. And “The Dark Knight Rises:” A ridiculous but entertaining flick

It’s been a pretty wild first few days of the Olympics, hasn’t it? Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like a whole lot has gone on the first few days, since Queen Elizabeth jumped out of an airplane on Friday night. It’s been exhilarating and sad and awesome.
Tried to watch as much Olympics coverage as I could, so some quick-hitting thoughts on what has gone down the first 48 hours or so:

— Gotta start with my man Ryan Lochte, who as I’ve said before, I covered for 3 1/2 years when I worked at his hometown newspaper in Daytona Beach, Fla. He was phenomenal Saturday in the 400 IM, cruising to a gold medal and leaving Michael Phelps in the dust, in fourth place. It was stunning to see how far off the lead Phelps was; NBC had to widen the camera shot just to get him in the frame for the last 100 meters. It was a dominating, no-doubt win for Lochte, and I was happy for him.
Then Sunday night, swimming a race he never swims (the 4×100 freestyle), Lochte was overtaken on the final lap by France and the U.S. had to settle for silver. I’m sure Lochte will get criticized a little, but silver’s about what the U.S. expected in that event.

— My every-four-years rant: Dear NBC: It’s 2012. Stop tape-delaying LIVE events and holding them for prime time. Frustrating trying to watch races on the computer and have it keep freezing. I mean, I know why they do it (advertising dollars go up in prime time), but come on, you can’t tape-delay sports in 2012! Thank you.
— So, the Opening Ceremonies: On a weirdness scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 43. Dancing doctors and nurses? Rings of fire in the sky? The Queen skydiving (OK that part was cool)? God bless the Brits for going for it, but man, it was hard to follow.
— I found the men’s team archery on Saturday wildly interesting, after never watching the sport before. It’s amazing how quickly you get invested during the Olympics; I was yelling at the TV for that U.S. guy Kaminski to PLEASE hit the gold “10” number at the end. At the finish, the heavyset Italian guy got the 9 point shot (is it called a shot?) he needed, and the U.S. had to settle for silver.

Still, it was exciting.

— NBC showed no compassion for poor Jordyn Wieber Sunday night; the American gymnast was the huge favorite to win the all-around competition, only because of Olympic gymnastics’ bizarre scoring system of only 2 competitors per country making the finals, Wieber didn’t make it.
So NBC decided to show her crying on camera a bunch of times, following her as she walked off the floor, then stuck her in front of America for an interview. I know, I know, it made for good TV. But I felt really bad for her.

**So I rarely ever see big summer blockbusters, but my fiance and her family really wanted to see “Dark Knight Rises” Saturday night, so off I went. It was … entertaining and ridiculous and everything a summer blockbuster is supposed to be.
And while I was highly confused for much of the flick, and laughed at its ridiculousness at many points (here’s one question: So Batman’s got all of these high-tech weapons and a cool vehicle and all that, and his enemy in the film is also pretty futuristic, and yet how do they settle their differences? By punching each other really hard in the face), it was still worth the price of admission.

Couple thoughts:
— Anne Hathaway was really good in this. I don’t usually like her in movies, but she was a superb Catwoman.
— Christian Bale spent much of the money looking sad and frustrated. He does that in every movie, right?
— I know it was a few thousand miles, and a week, away, but I’m not going to lie: Sitting in that theater watching that movie Saturday, I thought of the Aurora shooting. I tried to rid that image from my mind, but it kept coming back.

Still, all in all, a pretty good flick with some cool special effects and a great plot twist toward the end. There was even some humor thrown in so the whole thing wouldn’t be so dark.

If you’re a Batman fan, I’d say go see it.

An-all Olympics Good News Friday: I am super-pumped for London 2012

Are you ready for some international rivalries, more coverage of swimming and track and field than ever, and Bob Costas solemnly intoning about the history of countries you’ve never heard of?

I am. I love the Olympics. Love, love, love ’em. I know there’s cheaters who win gold medals, I know they’re too big, too loud, too … modern. But I love that once every four years I care about the 200-meter dash, and sports like water polo and team handball (which is very cool to watch on TV, by the way), and fall in love with athletes who I won’t see again for another four years.

This year, I’m pumped about Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte, Usain Bolt amazing us all again, and if the latest version of the “Dream Team” basketball squad can be beat (I say yes, they can.)

As the festivities kick off tonight from England (where I believe Mitt Romney will be elected prime minster, I present two famously happy Olympic clips, and one Olympian from 2012 you should definitely root for:

The first clip (below) is one of the most famous in the history of the Olympics. And, just because I haven’t seen it in a while, here’s Kerri Strug with one of the most courageous vaults we’ve ever seen…

**Next, you may have heard the story of the Runner Without A Country, and it’s a very inspiring one. Guor Marial (above) is a 28-year-old marathoner who escaped the Sudan as a teenager, after being kidnapped at gunpoint at age 8, placed in a labor camp, and saw 28 members of his family get killed during Sudan’s brutal civil war.
Upon moving to the U.S., Marial grew up in New Hampshire, and slowly became a top runner. He made the Olympic qualifying time needed to compete this year, but his home “country” is now South Sudan, which as a new nation does not yet have standing in the Olympics.
After much back and forth about what could be done, the IOC this week decided to allow Marial to compete as an independent runner.
He’ll compete for his new nation, and for all of us who believe in the Olympics as a chance for everyone.

**And finally, another Olympics clip you’ve seen before, this one more recent than Kerri Strug’s vault. The incredible comeback of U.S. swimmer Jason Lezak in the 4×100 relay, allowing Michael Phelps to keep his hopes of eight gold medals alive. Love the excitement in Dan Hickman’s voice on the broadcast… a truly great moment (the good stuff starts at around the 3-minute mark).

“The Newsroom” was a train wreck; but “Episodes” comes back strong. Lochte and Phelps kick ass again. And the woman suing a Little Leaguer for a bad throw.

Good news and bad news from my TV watching Sunday night.
First, the bad: Man, that was one sorry, confusing, ridiculous mess of an episode of “The Newsroom” last night. The few parts of the premiere that were problematic blew up big-time in Episode 2, and so many new problems developed.

First of all, even for me, a veteran of Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire dialogue, those scenes moved way too fast last night. Second, and a major problem, is the completely idiotic storyline of McKenzie and the emailing issues. Who the hell, first of all, uses an asterisk in email anymore?
And could that have been any more predictable, that she would soon write something awful and send it to the entire company?  And then Will’s reaction to it was over the top and public.
Third, they have made both Will and McKenzie, the two leads, very unsympathetic characters, and Maggie, Sorkin’s cute, plucky heroine (think Donna in “The West Wing”) is too ditsy and crazy to be likable by the audience (and come on, Sorkin, she dated the governor’s press aide in college? You can do better than that.)

I’m worried for this show. The premise is great and the cast’s terrific, but that was pretty awful. I hope the next show gets back on track.

Happily, though, Sunday night also brought back the return of “Episodes” and “Weeds,” both on Showtime. Can’t discuss “Weeds” yet because I haven’t watched it, but “Episodes”  is a show I have repeatedly touted and will continue to tout until all you people watch it.

Matt LeBlanc plays a version of himself, starring in an awful sitcom translated from England by two hilarious British writers. Season 1 was terrific, with the season finale last year being laugh-out-loud hilarious in several parts. Season 2 got started off strong as well, with a lot of different plot developments resulting from the season finale.

I really hope they don’t keep Beverly and Shawn apart for long, because so much of the first season’s greatness was their comic timing. But sadly it looks like they won’t be a couple for much longer.
Watch this show, please. You won’t regret it.

**Now on to the swimming. If you didn’t watch any of the U.S. Olympic Trials over the past few nights, you missed some great stuff. The two greatest swimmers in the world, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, went head-to-head four times in finals. Phelps won three of ’em, but all were close. These two are so far ahead of every other American swimmer it’s not even funny; can’t wait to see them battle in London.
Also, 17-year-old Missy Franklin is so fast and seems so sweet outside the pool; I love that a guaranteed Olympian swam for her high school team this year.
And Dara Torres, age 45, is competing tonight to make her 6th Olympic team. No words to describe how inspirational that woman is.

**Finally today, proof that America may not have the craziest citizens in the world, but we’re in the top 5: A woman in New Jersey is suing a Little Leaguer for $150,000 for accidentally hitting her with an overthrow during a game two years ago.
As the kid’s father said, incredulously: “They’re little kids. A lot of them don’t know how to throw.”

I hope the judge throws the suit out, then throws her in jail for wasting the court’s time. Disgusting.

Despite what you’ve heard, “The Newsroom” is damn good. Colbert on immigration. Ryan Lochte fires the first salvo.

I can’t remember the last TV show debut I was as excited about as “The Newsroom.”
For one thing, I couldn’t avoid hearing about it; HBO promoted the holy hell out of the new one-hour drama, on commercials, on billboards around New York City, on social media, everywhere.
But really, the biggest reason I was pumped? Aaron Sorkin, the brilliant if a little crazy creator/writer. He made one of the greatest shows of all time with “The West Wing,” two other pretty damn good shows in “Sports Night” and “Studio 60” (which I know a lot of people hated but I loved), and has written the brilliant “The Social Network” and “A Few Good Men.”

I would watch anything Aaron Sorkin has written. He has a gift for words and speaking patterns like few others ever have, and he always shoots for the highest of heights.

Before I watched Sunday’s premiere, I read several negative reviews of the new show. It’s too preachy, they said. It doesn’t get cable news close to accurately. The characters aren’t likeable. Yada, yada, yada.

Yes, the first half-hour was a bit sanctimonious and smug. Jeff Daniels’ Will is eminently obnoxious, and Sorkin’s writing was quite a bit over the top here in setting the scene.
But about halfway through the episode, the show started to cook. Sam Waterston is fabulous as a “I don’t give a damn anymore” network news head. Emily Mortimer is a worthy foil for Daniels as his new producer (and, since it’s a Sorkin show, his former love interest. The man loves nothing more than workplace romance).
And yeah, it’s very easy in hindsight to see the way this newsroom decided to cover the Deepwater Horizon spill as a serious event immediately as the correct way.
But as I continually said to myself as I read reviews that said “this isn’t what really happens:” It’s a TV show, people! It’s entertainment. If Sorkin showed what digging and gathering on a story like this really looks like, 90 percent of the audience would be bored.

Anyway, it’s not as good as his other work yet. But “The Newsroom” has definite potential, and cracklingly good writing. Can’t wait to see it again next Sunday.

(And for Sorkin zealots like me, check out this amazing video of how often he re-uses certain dialogue with his characters.

**The major Supreme Court ruling Monday on Arizona’s wildly overreaching anti-immigration law was a good thing; most of the law was struck down as being way too stringent and unenforceable (though I loved Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer still trying to claim her side won here).

After reading about the ruling for a while, I got tired and went looking for something much more enjoyable: This Stephen Colbert take on immigration. Much funnier.

**Finally, since I used to cover Ryan Lochte for a living (I worked for his hometown paper in Daytona Beach, Fla.), I still am very interested in the incredible upward arc of his career.
He’s been beating the greatest swimmer of all-time, Michael Phelps, for about two years now, and Monday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials he did it again, besting Phelps in the 400 IM.
No, it doesn’t mean as much as the Olympics. But this is the first step in what will be an awesome duel in the pool in London in about a month.

Paul Krugman nails the media, accurately. A strange story of a woman who disappeared in her own home. And Lochte slays Phelps in the pool.

This is one of my biggest complaints about the national media in the past 15 years: They are constantly putting forth this “false equivalency.” What I mean is, even if one side of the story is SO clearly making more sense, and more truthful, than the other side, the Wolf Blitzers and Brian Williamses of the world present both sides as if they’re exactly the same.
And it drives me up a freaking wall (as it does Bill Maher, who frequently rails about it on his show). It’s happening now with this debt ceiling crisis, as Barack Obama has bent over backwards and then back again trying to get a deal done, offering everything but naming Sasha Obama’s first-born child John.
Meanwhile, the Republicans, who have once again successfully moved the middle of the debate so far to the right that it only looks like the middle because they’ve taken such an extreme position (you followed all that, right?), refuse to budge on anything.
And yet, the media continues to portray this as a civil disagreement between two sides.
Paul Krugman, the brilliant New York Times columnist, put up a blog post Tuesday that sums this up perfectly. Check it out please; he makes the point far more eloquently than I could.

**And now, for no particular reason except that I stumbled upon it on YouTube Tuesday night, is Billy Crystal, as Sammy Davis Jr., from the 1980s. People forget how utterly brilliant Billy was:

The best stories are the ones you can get lost in.
They may not have the most profound meaning or carry the most important news of the day, but they suck you in and make you think about how things happen.

Michael Kruse, a very talented writer for the St. Petersburg Times (who is leaving the paper soon for a new gig, I hear) wrote this heartbreaking story about a woman in Brevard County, Fla. named Kathryn Norris, who died in her house and wasn’t discovered for 16 months.
She literally, as Kruse writes, “went missing inside her own home.” It’s a really good story that’s worth your time today.

**Finally, my man Ryan Lochte, a six-time Olympic medalist in swimming who I covered (fairly obsessively) for four years at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, scored another huge win over Michael Phelps Tuesday. At the FINA World Championships he beat Phelps in the 200 freestyle final, the third time he’s beaten the greatest swimmer ever in the last year.
Lochte is ascending, while Phelps is finally coming down from the mountain. It’s been so cool to watch this rivalry develop the last few years, as Lochte got closer and closer to Phelps’ heels. For the moment, he’s definitely caught him.
My last story for my old newspaper (sniff, sniff) ran last Sunday, a profile of Lochte previewing this week’s worlds. If you’re a swimming fan, check it out here, and here’s video of the race: