Tag Archives: Michelle Obama

A Friday night I’ll never forget: Me and Mark Messier hang out for a bit. Kate McKinnon continues to be awesome on “SNL.” And my annual “old fogey watches the Grammys” thoughts

I don’t think I do a lot of complaining about my life here on the blog, but if I ever do, remind of the night of Feb. 8, 2019 and tell me to shut up.

Friday night… man, was it magical.

They say you should never meet your childhood heroes in real life, because they’re bound to disappoint you. I don’t know about that, because a few of my heroes that I’ve been lucky enough to meet (Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Bob Costas) have all turned out to be pretty cool.

But one hero I never, ever expected to meet is one of the greatest hockey players who ever lived. Guy by the name of Messier. First name Mark.

Played for the Edmonton Oilers, won five Stanley Cups, then came to New York and gave the single greatest sports memory I will ever have on June 14, 1994, when he and the Rangers won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 54 years.

And Friday night, the Captain and I spent about 30 glorious minutes together, on an evening that was incredible and memorable before I ever shook his hand.

A little background on how a night I’ll never forget came to be: So my wonderful wife has a work contact whose firm has a suite at Madison Square Garden, and around twice a year we are fortunate enough to spend a night at a Rangers game in the suite, with great food, a private bathroom (that’s huge at a hockey game!) and cool people.

Several months ago my wife told me our two games for this year, and at the time I had no idea that Feb. 8 vs. Carolina was going to be the 25th anniversary celebration of the 1994 Stanley Cup. When I found that out, I went from my normal level of excitement to a 10.

Seeing my favorite sports team of all time all dressed up and being honored was going to be awesome.
Then, I get to the suite about two hours before the game, and like usual I start introducing myself to the other people in the suite. Normally these are just other lawyers or bankers or whatever.

“Hi,” the first guy said. “I’m Paul Messier.”
“Hi,” the second guy said. “I’m Doug Messier.”

Wait, what? Mark Messier’s brother, and father, are sitting in this box with me? My excitement level went up seven or eight notches.

Then I found out that a few Rangers legends would be stopping by our suite during the game, including that “other” Messier guy.
I couldn’t call my wife and my father fast enough (she hadn’t arrived yet) to tell them that I might get to meet one of my all-time idols. This is a man whose name is part of some of my email passwords, a man who stood for everything (courage, tenacity, being clutch, being a good guy off the ice) that I believe in and worship in an athlete.

The pregame ceremony gave me chills. Then the game started. I half paid attention to the game, because I kept watching the door of the suite waiting for No. 11 to come in.

By the end of the second period, even though I’d had lots of fun chatting about hockey with Messier’s brother (and the poor guy, you just know that’s how everyone refers to him), I was getting worried. Maybe Mark wouldn’t show. Maybe he had too many other obligations on this special night.

Then, early in the third, he walked in. And of course for the rest of us in the box, time kind of stood still.

I bided my time. I waited a whole two minutes before walking over to where the great Mark Messier stood. I shook his hand, told him that I’m sure I’m the 48 millionth person to tell him this, but thank you for the 1994 Cup.

And he was great. We took some more pics with my wife and her co-workers, and then for about 10 glorious minutes, I sat one row in front of the greatest captain in hockey history and exchanged a few barbs. I made him laugh with one joke about how bad the current Rangers were playing, and a few minutes later we talked briefly about Sergei Zubov and how it’s a travesty he’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Then way too quickly, the game ended and it was time to leave. We thanked Mess again on our way out, and I walked into the night a few moments later wondering if all that all really happened.

They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes. I met one Friday night. And it was so freaking awesome.

And just because we’re talking about Messier, here’s this, the greatest clutch performance a Rangers player has ever had.

**Next up today, a big story at the end of last week was Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos and his stunningly honest and transparent letter accusing the National Enquirer of trying to extort him to not cover the Enquirer/Trump love-in, by threatening to release penis pics of Bezos.

Yes, this is America in 2019. Thankfully, we have “Saturday Night Live” to sort this all out. And as always, Kate McKinnon is gold.

**Finally today, Sunday night was the Grammys, and as usual this 43-year-old suburban white father of two didn’t know a lot of the musical acts that took the stage, or won awards (actual pre-Grammys conversation in our house: Post Malone, is that a boy, or a girl, or a group? And is there an alternative group called Pre-Malone?”)

But hey, as usual I enjoyed lots of the show, anyway. Some thoughts from my still stuck in the 1980s musically brain:

— The Dolly Parton tribute was fabulous. And I say this every time I hear her sing, but Miley Cyrus has an amazing voice. Truly an all-time great set of pipes. If I could just get past her crazy, I’d probably be a big fan of hers.

— I don’t usually like Lady Gaga’s outfits at all, but that shiny silver dress she wore at the beginning? Fantastic. And the glittery catsuit thingy she had on when singing her awesome song “Shallow?” Pretty fabulous too.

— That opening speaking segment with Michelle Obama, Gaga, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, and Jada Pinkett-Smith was pretty spectacular as well.

— Alicia Keys rules. She was a killer host, a great singer, and I loved her little montage. But this will still be the best thing she ever did.

— I want whatever anti-aging cream John Mayer uses. Dude still looks like he’s 16!

— Best performance by someone I’d never heard of until the Grammys: H-E-R. Very strong. But I swear I don’t get the appeal of half these artists. I’m old.


Remembering the great “Midnight Run” on its 30th anniversary. An awesome gymnastics routine that channels Michael Jackson. And a Michelle Obama voter registration commercial makes me miss her a lot

Thirty years ago this month, a little movie was released starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin.

It was about a washed-up ex-police officer from Chicago named Jack Walsh, who’s now a bounty hunter in Los Angeles. He gets an assignment to find and bring home Jonathan Mardukas, a former Mafia accountant who stole millions from the mob and is now in hiding somewhere.

At first glance, maybe you didn’t notice “Midnight Run.” Yeah it was DeNiro, who was in the middle of a streak of incredible movies. And Grodin is good. And the supporting cast (Joe Pantoliano, Dennis Farina, Yaphet Kotto) was solid. But still, there were so many “buddy cop” type movies back then, that few expected “Midnight Run” to be amazing.

But oh my God, is it amazing. Absolutely, completely wonderful. One of my all-time favorite movies (when I made a list on this blog a few years back on my Top 10 flicks of all time, “Midnight Run” was honorable mention and I hated leaving it off.)

I’m writing about it today because there’s actually been a lot of press about the movie lately, it being the 30th anniversary at all. Bill Simmons did a great podcast at The Ringer about “Midnight Run,”  and the best TV critic alive, Alan Sepinwall at Rolling Stone, wrote a tribute to the film as well. (He calls it the “Casablanca” of buddy movies.)

It’s funny. It’s warm (the scene at Jack’s ex-wife’s house, with his daughter? Beautiful). It’s actually wise, and it is written and directed beautifully. De Niro had never played comedy before, and he does it perfectly. Grodin is a wonderful foil, and so many lines are committed to my memory because they’re so damn hilarious. (“Why aren’t you popular with the Chicago Police Dept.”)

Midnight Run” is available to stream on Amazon for $3.99. If you haven’t seen it, instead of getting another latte at Starbucks, spend two hours with a classic. If you don’t love it, I’ll send you the four bucks back.

**Next up today, I have no idea why this video is suddenly showing up in my social media feeds since it happened a few months ago, but I’m thrilled that it did.

This is Katelyn Ohashi, a UCLA nationally-ranked gymnast, doing a routine to Michael Jackson music at the PAC-12 championships in March. So freaking good.
I don’t have any idea how elite gymnasts do this, but what an incredible performance.

**Finally today, feeling a little wistful coming across this new Michelle Obama video, where she and some celebrity friends like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Hanks urge everyone to get out and register to vote (I’m not a celebrity but if you know anyone who’s not registered, good God, get them registered!).

I miss Michelle Obama. I miss her grace, I miss her class, I miss her intelligence and most of all, I just miss seeing her. She was such a wonderful First Lady, so smart and funny and compassionate, that I feel like going back now to watch her amazing Convention speech (still blows me away) from 2016.

Anyway, just seeing this little video made me miss her. And appreciate how good we had it. And makes me wish so much that she’d run for public office.

Good News Friday: Could you buy everything in that Barenaked Ladies song for a million dollars, for real? Barack Obama with a 25th anniversary tribute to his wife. And the 4-foot-8 high school football player rules. And she’s a girl.

It has been a rough week, filled with tears, anger and sadness. So I want to start off Good News Friday with something completely silly and also awesome.

Luke Martin is an e-migo of mine; we’ll probably never meet in person but we get along great on Twitter because he’s hilarious and smart (I linked to one of his posts a while back, on the death of his dog, which was really movingly written.

Anyway, Luke decided, because, why not, to look at the Barenaked Ladies classic song “If I had a million dollars” literally. He examined the lyrics and the things BNL said they’d buy, and figured out how much of today’s 2017 dollars it would cost to get them all.

Luke told me he spent about six hours doing this article, which I find hilarious and awesome. He discovered that John Merrick’s remains (he’s more famously known as The Elephant Man) are actually NOT for sale, what a K-Car actually is, what the going price for a llama or an emu is, and how hard it is to find fancy ketchup.

If you are looking to completely take your mind off the world and get lost in something really fun and mostly meaningless, I highly recommend reading this.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I plan to spend all weekend trying to find out how much 99 Luftballoons cost these days.

**Next up today, Wednesday was Barack and Michelle Obama’s 25th wedding anniversary. Anyone being married for 25 years is impressive and worthy of celebration in my eyes, but being in the public eye for the last 13 years of their marriage must make it harder.

Michelle was in the middle of a conference of women in Pennsylvania, on stage with Shonda Rimes, when a video tribute from Barack suddenly surprised her.

This is really, really beautiful; we should all hope our spouses talk this way about us after 25 years.

**And finally, Felicia Perez is a 4-foot-8 student at Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Del. She’s also a linebacker on the football team.

And she plays a lot. And she’s pretty courageous, and the boys on her team swear by her.

Steve Hartman of CBS News with another great human interest piece. I love this girl.

Good News Friday: 80 people form a human chain to save a family from drowning. A farmer in Iowa builds a Wimbledon Centre Court replica, and it’s awesome. And a moving tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, from Michelle Obama

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there in Internet-land. So much I want to say about L’Affair Trump Jr., but it’s Good News Friday and we’re keeping it positive as always here today.

OK, first up, we’re nearing the end of Wimbledon, with the men’s semis today starring my man Roger Federer, and the women’s final, featuring ageless 37-year-old Venus Williams (what an amazing story she is) coming up on Saturday.

Well, from the great Steve Hartman of “CBS Sunday Morning,” this is a story so far up my alley, I’m kind of amazed I didn’t know about it until now.

You remember “Field of Dreams,” of course, the movie about a man who hears a voice from above telling him to build a baseball diamond in the middle of Iowa cornfields.

Well, this story takes that one step further, and it’s all real. A man named Mark Kuhn heard a tennis match on his grandfather’s old transistor radio as a boy, and the BBC call of Wimbledon had the young child transfixed.

Kuhn’s obsession with the greatest tennis tournament in the world led to him building, in his Iowa cornfield, a replica of Wimbledon’s famed Centre Court back in 2002.z

Seriously, he built it in his cornfield. And children of all ages now come to hit serves and backhands on his exquisitely beautiful court. That’s right, he’s got the All Iowa Lawn Tennis Club, and all you need to play is a love of tennis and a court reservation.

Mark, you’re my hero. And next time I’m anywhere NEAR Iowa, I’m coming over to play a set.

**Next up today, this story went viral this week for very good reason. Approximately 80 beachgoers in Panama City, Fla. noticed Roberta Ursrey and her family in major trouble in the ocean last Sunday, as a very strong rip current prevented nine people from swimming back to safety.

So slowly but surely, more than six dozen strangers began forming a human chain from the sand out to the Ursrey family, and managed to rescue each one of them.

Complete strangers, bonded together in a moment of crisis, became heroic. So, so wonderful.

“It’s so cool to see how we have our own lives and we’re constantly at a fast pace, but when somebody needs help, everybody drops everything and helps,” said Jessica Simmons, who was one of the first people to try to rescue the swimmers. “That was really inspiring to see that we still have that.

“With everything going on in the world, we still have humanity,” she added.

And may we always have that, please.


**Finally today, this was an incredibly moving and uplifting story from this week’s ESPY Awards. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century. She was JFK’s sister, but more importantly, she was a driving force behind the creation of the Special Olympics, an incredibly vibrant and important organization that has helped millions of special needs boys and girls have one place where they can shine and stand out.

Michelle Obama, who I miss having on the national stage terribly, narrated this fabulous look at Shriver’s life, and accomplishments. This is so worth it, just to hear the boys and girls whose lives have been changed by Special Olympics talk about what it’s meant to them.

What an amazing woman she was.

Good News Friday: “Hidden Figures” an outstanding, almost-perfect film. My favorite speech of the year, revisited. And a college student makes cakes out of famous paintings


And a Happy Friday and Happy almost New Year to all; like most of you I’m sure, I can’t wait for 2016 to end, it’s been a miserable year in many ways (except for Cubs and Cavaliers fans, of course).

But we ring out 2016 with one more dollop of good news. As usually happens, the last week of the year doubles as “new movie time” for the wife and I, and one we have been looking forward to seeing for a while was “Hidden Figures,” which is playing in only a few theaters so far.

The flick, based on an incredible true story, is about three African-American NASA employees in the 1960s, who each in their own way had a significant role in helping America win the space race.

Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine, the most important historically of the trio, who has a fantastic brain for math and gets put on the Freedom 7 space shuttle project under crotchety boss Mr. Harrison (Kevin Costner, who was great here) while Octavia Spencer and Janelle Morae are also crucial to the NASA effort.

The movie shows us their rise, the obstacles they had to overcome as women and minorities in that time period, and how ultimately their contributions were vital.

It was an outstanding movie. I can’t believe, first of all, that this story hadn’t been told before. The performances, especially from Henson and Spencer, are fantastic. The script is funny and warm, even if a lot of the mathematical discussions went way, way over my head. I thought so much of this story was inspiring, and hopefully makes millions of kids in the U.S. realize math and science are worthwhile pursuits, even if our space program and NASA aren’t doing much exploration at the moment.

My only quibble with the film, and it’s why I’d give it 3.5 stars out of four, is that they go a bit overboard on ramping up the drama. We get hit over the head quite a few times with the themes of prejudice and injustice, so much so that I was basically saying to the screen “OK, OK, we get it, they’ve overcome a lot.”

By the end, the filmmakers almost ruined it for me by making Katherine’s character seem so incredibly important that we’re supposed to believe John Glenn never would’ve made it safely back from space if not for her, that she was the one and only person who could solve a final hurdle. It was a little too much to take.

Still, that’s a nitpick. “Hidden Figures” is a tremendous movie, one that I hope gets quite a few Oscar nominations. It comes out nationwide next week, I highly recommend it.

**Next up, seeing “Hidden Figures,” filled with brilliant, inspirational African-American women, made me think of one in particular who stole the show in 2016.

I will miss our current President’s intelligence, grace and calm immensely, but I’ll also miss his amazing wife. In a year full of nastiness and vitriolic speeches, there was one speech I thought about long after it was delivered, one I’ll remember for years to come.

One more time, Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention. This was one of the most powerful oratories I’ve ever heard. What a bright, compassionate trailblazer she is. Listen to this one more time, and realize what we’ll be losing in three weeks.

She’ll never run for office, I’m pretty sure. But man, if she did, I’d be the first person on line to help her get elected.


**Finally today, I thought this was pretty cool. A 20-year-old college student named Emily Zauzmer has a pretty cool hobby: Re-creating famous paintings in sheet cakes.

She goes to Harvard, so she’s clearly pretty bright, but look at the level of detail and intricacy on the “American Gothic” cake above. That’s just fantastic.

You go, Emily Zauzmer. I just want to know how you can eat those cakes after making them look so beautiful. I’d want to frame them and hang ’em on a wall or something.

2016 out.

A beautiful mentor/protege relationship on the violin, across the miles. Teachers tell their students why they love them. And Bob Dylan wins a Nobel Prize for literature

And a happy Friday to all. It’s pumpkin-spice season and Halloween’s coming up and the baseball playoffs are getting seriously good (come on, after the horrible year 2016 has been, we deserve a Cubs-Indians World Series) and the Rangers won on opening night against the Islanders Thursday and Michelle Obama gave one hell of an amazing speech Thursday  and life is good.

We start Good News Friday with the great Steve Hartman of “CBS Sunday Morning,” once again giving me, as the kids say, all the feels. This story, about a famous Philadelphia Orchestra member named David Bilger mentoring a 17-year-old Afghani student in the violin, is just a beautiful tale of one human reaching out to help another.

If the hug at the end doesn’t get you … check your heartbeat to make sure you’re still alive.

**Next up today, this is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard. A teacher named Jamie McSparin at Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Mo. came up with the idea of teachers in her school telling one of their favorite students that they are what makes coming to school every day worthwhile, and how the student inspires them.

To see the looks on these students’ faces (the girl at 1:13 is my favorite, but the one at 2:58 is great too!)

The future is very, very bright.



**Finally today, I was very happy to learn that Bob Dylan, a musical genius and pioneer in every sense, was given the Nobel Prize for Literature on Friday. Some on the Internet are already saying he doesn’t deserve it, his songs aren’t really “literature,” and casting other aspersions on the honor.

Hogwash. Dylan has been incredibly influential and incredibly talented for more than six decades. His lyrics spoke to generations of fans, from 1960s radicals who wanted to change the world (and did), to even Gen X’ers and Millenials, who still download the 75-year-old’s music.

I fell in love with Dylan’s music as a teenager, when I first encountered the gorgeous “Times they Are A-Changin,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” and “Blowin’ In the Wind.” The gravelly voice, the beautiful guitar-playing… all of it spoke to me.

Here’s a great appreciation of Dylan by Ty Burr of the Boston Globe.

A well-deserving honor to a legend. Take us out, Robert Zimmerman…

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

All-Star Game Basketball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The worst kind of grief exploitation, fear-mongering and oh yeah, plagiarism at the RNC. And Jon Stewart makes a triumphant return to late night.


So, so, so many thoughts to share after the first two nights of the KKK rally Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

I mean, just … wow. As awful as I thought it was going to be, it was worse. I swear to God, Ben Carson and Chris Christie on Tuesday were thisclose to saying Hillary Clinton should be dragged to Salem and burned at the stake as a witch.

Full disclosure: Tuesday night I was out at my annual Yankees game trip with my wife and father-in-law, so mostly I only followed it on Twitter (but I saw the Christie/Carson highlights and threw up in my mouth a bit.)

But that’s OK, Monday night I was tuned in, riveted and horrified for the whole three hours-plus spectacle.

— First of all, nothing was more disgusting and distasteful than the politicization of family grief. It was ALL over the stage Monday night, and the worst offender was Pat Smith, whose son tragically died in the Benghazi attack (maybe you’ve heard of it?). She stood up and blamed Hillary Clinton personally for her son’s death. As if the Democratic nominee had a hand in killing him. So we had, from the stage of the national convention of one of the two major political parties in America, accusations that the nominee of the other party was responsible for murder.

Going out on a limb here, but as we’ve said so many times during this campaign, that’s never happened before. It’s absolutely, positively disgusting and immoral, what Ms. Smith said, and as we know I’m far, far from a Hillary Clinton defender.

— What’s almost as amazing as what Smith said is that, while she was saying it, Donald Trump called in to Fox News for a live interview, stepping on his own convention coverage! The man’s pathological need to constantly be on TV is really quite something. I mean seriously, he should be studied in psychology textbooks for decades.

— Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato, Jr. were both tapped to give speeches, and I’ll never be able to watch “Charles in Charge” again without crying.

They were both horrendous (Sabato later said he was absolutely sure Obama is a Muslim, so I’m glad we cleared that up), but I honestly wondered where the hell was Kirk Cameron? He was a MUCH bigger star than Baio in the 1980s, he’s certifiably wing-nut crazy, and they had plenty of time to let him talk.

Mike Seaver got screwed, folks. I blame his sister.

— The plagiarism thing with Melania Trump’s speech became a huge deal Tuesday, and justifiably so. Lifting entire passages from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech is hilarious, and sad, and I honestly have no idea whether Melania wrote the speech and thought no one would notice, a vengeful Trump campaign speechwriter inserted the passage as a mean shot at Melania (my wife’s theory), or this is just incredible negligence.

What I do know is my fellow Blue Hen and Twitter must-follow, Frankie the Goat (I’m guessing that’s not his real name) had the two best Tweets of the night on the controversy.

— Another highlight of Monday: GOP Congressman Steve King saying that white people have been the only group responsible for the progress of Western Civilization.

Said King: “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out: Where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about? Where did any other sub-group of people contribute more to civilization?”

I can’t make this shit up.

— Rudy Giuliani. My goodness, what a trainwreck. New Yorkers of my generation and older may remember that back in the early 1990s, Rudy was actually considered a moderate, almost a real Democrat. Now he’s so far out there I think Pat Buchanan was saying to himself last night “Man, that guy’s nuts.”

**Watched some of Paul Ryan’s speech, calling for civility and decency and coming together. Then saw Chris Christie give one of the most vicious and hateful speeches in convention history, followed by the completely nuts Ben Carson comparing Hillary Clinton to Lucifer. In prime time, on national TV.

I mean… what the fuck has happened to the Republican party?

— Facts have no bearing at this convention. None, whatsoever. Crime is lower than it has been in decades. The economy is humming along, unemployment is below five percent, but if you listened to the first two nights of speeches, you’d think we were on the verge of collapse as a society.

And we’ve got two (count ’em, TWO) more nights to go.

**Finally today, the best thing that happened Monday night wasn’t that Giuliani finally left the stage, or that wingnut GOP Senator Joni Ernst was bumped past 11 p.m. It was the wonderfully welcome return of Jon Stewart to late-night TV.

He was on a sketch with old buddy Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show” live episode after the convention, and it was great. It was only four minutes, but it made me miss Stewart all the more (shouldn’t he be doing some of those HBO shorts we heard about by now?)

A 12-year-old does an awesome thing with his March Madness winnings. A restaurant tries to help a dumpster-diver. And Fallon dances with the First Lady again


And a Happy Friday to you all, as spring has finally sprung here in New York.

We start off Good News Friday this week with the awesomeness that is Sam Holtz, a 12-year-old Illinois kid who had the best bracket out of millions of entries in ESPN.com’s NCAA Tournament pool.
But that’s not the most impressive thing about Sam. Last week he found out that because he was under 18, he wasn’t eligible for ESPN.com’s prize of a $20,000 Best Buy gift card and a trip to Maui.

However, Best Buy, knowing a great PR move when they see it, gave the kid a $1,000 gift card anyway.
And Sam, showing what a good boy he is, bought himself an XBox One, then used the rest of his money to buy another and donate it to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Said Sam to the Chicago Tribune: “I decided to donate one of the XBox One systems to Make-A-Wish because of my cousin Alec.” When he was real little, he was in Make-A-Wish, and back then [23 years ago], people granted his wish of going to Disney World. I thought I’d kind of repay them for what they did for my cousin [who survived his illness and is now an adult].”

What a wonderful kid. And he gets to go to Hawaii, too, because Scout.com decided to give him the trip ESPN couldn’t.

**Next up, this is from two weeks ago but I just saw it the other night; as usual when a Jimmy Fallon skit goes viral, it’s fantastic. Jimmy and the First Lady, Michelle Obama, with a sequel to their classic “Evolution of Mom Dancing.” The “Shush and Tush” is pretty great…


**And finally today, this once again shows the innate goodness in people. A restaurant owner in Oklahoma named Ashley Jiron noticed one night that the bags of discarded food she was putting in her dumpster were being opened, with food being taken out.

“That really, it hurt me that someone had to do that,” Jiron said.

So she posted the note (above) on the dumpster the next night, offering to give the dumpster-diver a free meal and a much more pleasant dining experience.

“I think we’ve all been in that position where we needed someone’s help and we just needed someone to extend that hand and if I can be that one person to extend that hand to another human being then I will definitely do it,” Jiron said.

Beautiful. Just beautiful. “You are a human being,” such a simple message we all should remember.

A few words on the death of my Grandma. And Michelle Obama, kicking it Mom-style on Fallon


Late Thursday night, my family lost its rock, its matriarch, and the woman to whom we all looked for guidance and compassion.

My grandma died. She was 94, and for the last several years she’s been suffering from the awful scourge of Alzheimers disease. I wrote a little about Grandma in this space two years ago, and I will repeat what I said there: She is the greatest person I’ve ever known, and probably ever will know.

I gave one of the many eulogies at her funeral on Sunday, and while I don’t want to run the whole thing here, I wanted to share some excerpts with my little blog family.

Thank you for taking the time to read a few words about a truly extraordinary woman.

“When I was a little boy, my father used to have a saying he’d repeat after just about every visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s apartment.

“Kids,” he would say from the front seat, while my sister and I sat in the back, “you’ll never meet anyone in your whole life like Grandma.”

 At the time, I’m sure I scoffed, convinced that this was just my father using hyperbole to make us appreciate our grandparents more.

I mean come on; what are the odds of one of the first people to ever hold you upon entering the world also being the greatest person you’d ever meet?

But as I’ve lived my life for the past 37 years, traveling and meeting thousands of people, I’ve come to realize my father was exactly right: Marcelle Kouvant was, and always will be, the greatest person I’ve ever met …

…”as I think back on my own memories of Grandma, they come flooding back like a tidal wave of joy, flashing across my soul and making me smile so much.

I think about Grandma always being the most excited person in the world when you told her good news in your life; with a trademark slapping of her hand on the table and an exclamation of “Wheeee!” at the top of her lungs, she exuded happiness so much you would’ve thought SHE had just won a big tennis match, or gotten first place in the spelling bee.

“I remember her unrequited love of the New York Mets, and how intensely she delighted in their victories, and was so pained by their defeats.

I always got such a kick out of how they could win 10 games in a row, then lose one, and she’d say “They should fire the manager! And trade half the players!”

“But Grandma,” I would tease,  “last week you said Mike Piazza and Tom Glavine were great.”

“Horrible,” she’d say. “Get rid of them. They can’t play at all!”

Sadly, during most of her years as a Mets fan, she was right: they did stink.”

Then there were the blue cookie tins filled with MandelBread that would arrive at my apartment in Wilmington, N.C., when I lived there. I would bring them into my newspaper office, and Southerners who couldn’t tell the difference between a yarmulke and a Yo-Yo were devouring the delicious treats, and singing the praises of a woman who for 60 years made a succession of delicacies out of a tiny kitchen where an occupancy of 3 would’ve been a fire hazard. …

In her later years, as she began to get sick and her incredibly sharp mind started fading away, she would’ve been so bothered by all the fuss that was made of her. Of my mother and aunt doing everything they could to make sure she were as comfortable as possible, even as she was unable to recognize those she loved so much.

But the end of her life isn’t what we’ll remember; it was the glorious years until then, when she was the brightest sun in all of our worlds.

My grandmother was the greatest person I’ve ever known, and it was the highest honor of my life to say I was her grandson.

I will miss her, and think of her, for the rest of my days. And as long as we keep telling stories about her wonderful spirit, she will always be with us in our hearts.

**OK, time to flip the switch and end on a happier note. I know Michelle Obama’s getting a lot of attention for her surprise appearance at the end of the Oscars (which I thought was just weird timing, putting her on at the end like that), the more impressive FLOTUS appearance lately was this awesome 2-minute dance skit she did with Jimmy Fallon the other night on his show.

It’s the “Evolution of Mom-Dancing,” and it’s brilliant.  You go, girl.