Tag Archives: Sidney Crosby

A fantastic oral history of “The West Wing.” Monks with mad dance skills. And the Rangers win another epic Game 7


If you gave me truth serum (or threw Wonder Woman’s lasso thingie around me) and asked me what my favorite TV show of all time was, I’d say it’s a tie between “The West Wing” and “The Wire,” and would be unable to choose a favorite (and yes, my 5 favorite sitcoms and 5 favorite dramas are definitely blog posts you’ll be seeing on this site sometime soon).

“The West Wing” was, for me, a perfect show: It was funny, it was brilliantly written, it had tremendous heart, and it moved me emotionally like few shows ever have.
I miss it very much, and still watch the reruns with my wife on DVD when we’re in the mood for some snappy patter.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I saw this on the Web Tuesday: The Hollywood Reporter did a pretty lengthy oral history of the show, interviewing Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme (the creators) and almost all the major actors, including Rob Lowe, Allison Janney and Bradley Whitford.
Some of my favorite nuggets from the piece (and I highly recommend reading all of it): Eugene Levy and CCH Pounder were almost cast as Toby and C.J.; Sidney Poitier was the first choice for President Bartlet (and wow, would that have been a different show), and Bradley Whitford (Josh) had no idea he would be the one shot at the end of Season 1 until the day they shot the scene.

Really great stuff.  And now, one of my all-time favorite scenes, from when Bartlet greets one of his Cabinet secretaries who has to stay behind in case the Capitol blows up during the State of the Union:

**Next up, nothing much out of the ordinary to see here, just some Buddhist monks dancing awesomely in NYC to Beastie Boys music:

Rangers Penguins Hockey

**And finally, the New York Rangers. The NEW YORK RANGERS!
I’m exhausted after watching that game, pacing around the apartment, screaming. I don’t know what to say, except:
— Henrik Lundqvist is the best big-game goalie in hockey, and I’m so glad he’s a Ranger.
— Brian Boyle and Brad Richards, two Rangers who get all kinds of crap from the fans, both with huge goals Tuesday.
— This run to the Conference Finals (4 wins away from playing for the Cup) is so completely unexpected. They had no business winning this series over the more talented Penguins, no business at all.
— And Sidney Crosby, who scored ONE goal in this series: Can you imagine if he played a sport more American fans cared about, what the hailstorm of criticism raining down upon his helmet would be today? Wow. The Blueshirts totally shut him down.

Shocked. I’m shocked the Rangers are still around. Eight more wins.

A fantastic weekend, with Michael Sam drafted, the Rangers staying alive, and a kid takes a cheerleader to the prom

What a terrific weekend. Weather was great, Mother’s Day was great, and there were all kinds of great things happening.

First, Michael Sam made history, and the St. Louis Rams did, too. Although it happened far too late in the draft, showing that NFL teams are still awfully closed-minded about gay athletes, pro football’s first openly gay active player was  drafted in the seventh round by the Rams.

Sam may not make the Rams, who are loaded at his position (defensive line). He may never become a star, may never make a huge impact in football.

But his impact will go far, far beyond what he does on the field. By being the first openly gay football player to be taken in the NFL Draft, he has opened doors. He was shown young kids out there who may be too afraid to tell their friends and teammates in a macho sport that they’re gay that it’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with you.

There was the usual social media crap Saturday night about the kissing in the above video, but I don’t see two men kissing. I see a man fulfilling a lifelong dream, to get a chance to play in the NFL, and then celebrating the moment with tears, followed by embracing the person he loves.

Great column on Sam being drafted here, from Dave Zirin, who says the NFL still has a long way to go.
But Saturday was a huge step, and it was great to see.

**Next up today, after breaking up with his girlfriend, a high school student in Houston was dared by his friends to get a Houston Texans cheerleader to go to the prom with him (by the way, help me out here: Growing up in New York we always said “the prom,” but everywhere else I’ve lived people just say “prom,” as in “we’re going to prom” together. Are we New Yorkers strange for using “the” and why doesn’t anyone else use it? I digress).

And because I wouldn’t be telling this story if Michael Ramirez hadn’t gotten a Texans cheerleader named Caitlyn to go out with him, the above video has a happy ending.
Very cool. Glad so many beautiful women seem to be doing this more. (where the hell were they when I was in school?)


*And finally, the New York Rangers.  I will tell anyone and everyone how much I hate the Bee Gees; it brings me great shame to tell you that that awful disco group had the No.1 song in America the week I was born (I looked it once, and was horrified), and if a Bee Gees song ever plays at a wedding I’m at, I’ll be off the dance floor toot sweet.

But all night Sunday night I’ve had one of their songs in my head. This one…

That’s right baby, the New York Rangers are stayin’ alive. What an incredible game Sunday night at MSG, one in which I could feel the intensity of the crowd coming through my TV (Garden crowds have been awfully quiet for years, thanks to ticket prices being sky-high and real fans being priced out. There’s a huge difference in the noise level from when I used to go as a kid, to now. But Sunday night that crowd was awesome.).

I mean, you couldn’t write the script any better than to have Rangers star Marty St. Louis, whose mother died last Thursday, score the first goal Sunday night in Game 6, on Mother’s Day, with his father and sister at the game watching.
After that happened, shoot, I knew the Rangers would find a way to win. And they did. And now the big, bad Pittsburgh Penguins, who looked unbeatable just a few days ago, are headed home for a Game 7 knowing the Rangers have found their game.
This is what I love so much about playoff hockey: A series is never, ever over.  Down 3-1, the Rangers looked dead and ready to be buried for the season.
And now the Blueshirts, who have far less talent than Pittsburgh, go into Game 7 on the road with absolutely zero pressure and the chance to steal a series they have no business winning. (And really Sidney Crosby, you’re the best player in the league and you jab your stick into a guy’s crotch? Classy.)

Game on.

A 3rd-grader does an awesome fundraiser for his fellow students. An incredible goal from hockey’s “next big thing.” And Ellen gives the Oscars pizza guy a big tip.

This is why I have so much hope for the future. Because of kids like Cayden Taipalus, an 8-year-old in 3rd grade at Challenger Elementary School in Michigan.

One day on the lunch line recently, Cayden saw another student have to put their lunch tray with hot food down, and take a cold sandwich instead. The reason, Cayden learned, is because the student didn’t have any money in their lunch account with the school.

“That made me sad,” Cayden said. “So I asked my Mom what we could do.”

What Cayden did is extraordinary, and beautiful. He started collecting cans and bottles for the refunds, and set up an online fundraising site to help get money for students whose lunch accounts were empty.

Cayden has raised more than $23,000 so far, which is incredible, and can pay for 295 lunches. And Cayden wants to raise more, too.

What a wonderful kid. If you want to donate to Cayden’s lunch fund, click here.

**Next up, you probably saw on the Oscar telecast Sunday that host Ellen DeGeneres did a funny bit where she ordered pizzas for the stars to eat during the show, and had a delivery man come out and pass out slices.

Well, Ellen collected tips from the actors that night, and this week she had the guy, named Edgar, on her show. Really sweet little segment; the guy seems totally overwhelmed and happy.

**Finally today, hard-core hockey fans like myself have been hearing for a few years now that a 17-year-old kid from Canada named Connor McDavid is the next Wayne Gretzky, or the next Sidney Crosby. Kid is pretty phenomenal from the highlights I’ve seen, and he won’t even be in the NHL until 2015.

Watch this goal he scored Wednesday night; it’s a thing of beauty. Can’t wait until this kid’s in the NHL…

Some parting N.Y. thoughts. An amazing gymnast. And a little Stanley Cup talk

Flew back to Florida after a week of vacation in NY on Wednesday  night. Always a good time seeing the family and the state of my birth. A few random ruminations:

— Drove in Manhattan a few days ago. Remembered why I, and most other sane people, hate it so much. It’s like being in a video game, driving in the city. Everybody is intense, nobody lets you change lanes, and hesitation for even one second brings horns aplenty. Also people like to make their own lanes just because they feel like it. It’s sort of a right, just like the right of way: Right to squeeze in wherever you want.
I don’t know how people who drive in Manhattan do it. I’d go nuts after doing it every day for a few months.

— Speaking of things that annoy me, this has nothing to do with New York, but I have a quick rant. Every day I was home I noticed more and more gray hairs on my head. I am THIRTY-FREAKING-FIVE years old, I’m already balding quite noticeably, and now I’m getting gray hairs, too? I mean, isn’t it bad enough I’m losing my hair, now the ones I have are going gray? Come on follicle Gods, give a guy a break here!

— Got to go through one of those fancy new full body scanners at the Orlando airport on my way here. I know I’m strange for saying so, but it was cool! I felt like I was being screened for something really important, like a job with the CIA or something. The whole thing took 15 seconds. Sadly, I didn’t get the full-body pat down. Was hoping to get the whole invasive TSA experience all at once.

— Overheard in the supermarket Wed. morning: Kid, to Mom: “Don’t tell me to go away, because one day I will and you’ll be sad!”

**OK, so this is a Polish gymnast named Jozef Wadecki. Apparently it is real, and it is spectacular. He’s like a human pogo stick or something:

**Finally, the Stanley Cup playoffs (that’s hockey for you non-puck people) began Wednesday night, and I love it. Definitely an awesome time of year, when for a few hours a night I plant myself in front of the plasma and watch the best playoff tournament in all of sports.

I used to do an annual playoff predictions page in my newspaper, but alas, hockey’s not a priority for us anymore. (People in Florida just don’t love the sport like they should. I proselytize, but it falls on deaf ears).
But I wanted to make some quick predictions anyway, so here goes: In the East, I think the Caps win in 6 (though my Rangers have a definite shot), Flyers in 7, Bruins in 5 (Habs just can’t score), and Lightning in 6 (no Crosby, no Malkin, no Cup for Pens).
Out West, I love Chicago to upset Vancouver in 6 (Robert Luongo is not a money goalie, and the Canucks will choke in epic fashion), San Jose over L.A. in 5, Phoenix over Detroit in 6 (just a hunch), and Nashville to beat Anaheim (two huge hockey cities!) in 6.
In the Cup finals, man, I just don’t have a strong feeling this year. I guess I’ll go with the Caps (Flyers goaltending still scares me), and the Sharks out West. Two underachievers finally reaching the Finals. Would be a hell of an exciting series between those two. And I’ll take the Caps and my man Alex Ovechkin to win it all.

The toughest waiter in America. And the NHL does a very cool thing

So you think being a waiter is a tough job requiring tough people? Well, you’re right. But not many are as tough as my new hero, a waiter at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Skokie, Ill.

Peter Crotty is a 24-year-old waiter who was working on Oct. 29 when three teenagers came in, ordered $51 worth of food, then tried to dash out with it without paying. So Crotty, naturally, chased after them, flung himself onto the side of their SUV, and hung on as the men tried to punch him and get him to fall off.

Eventually, Crotty jumped off, but the police caught the hooligans and arrested them.
I love it. A waiter who takes it personally when you try to stiff the restaurant. That’s one bad-ass waiter, to go chasing after three kids who ran out.
And I loved his quote at the end of the story, about why he ran back to work: “I still had tables.”
I hope everyone in his section gave him a nice big tip that night.

**I don’t write much about the NHL on this blog because I’m sure few of you care as much as I do, and also I haven’t had time to pay much attention to hockey yet this season.
But I heard this Wednesday and thought it was awesome. At the NHL All-Star Game this year, instead of just playing the Eastern Conference vs. the Western Conference, they’re going to select 2 captains and let them pick teams.
Yeah, just like we all did on the playground when we were kids. So Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin could conceivably stand there like two 11-year-olds, going “I’ve got Mike Green,” “OK, then I’m picking Ilya Kovalchuk,” and so on and so on.
I love it. The NHL has said, though, that the last few picks will be made all at once, so some 27-year-old millionaire who’s an All-Star doesn’t have his ego wounded by being the last pick.
Hey, I turned out OK.

An incredible hockey game is won by Canada. And the remarkable failure of NY’s Governor

Good for Canada.

That’s how I felt about 10 minutes after Sunday’s heart-stopping, mind-altering, breath-robbing gold medal hockey game between the U.S. and our neighbors to the north.

As disappointed as I was that the U.S., after a wonderful tying goal in the final minute, lost in overtime on Sidney Crosby’s blast through the legs of Ryan Miller (that’s called the “five hole” to you newbie hockey fans out there), I realized that winning this game, this medal, meant SO much more to Canada than it would’ve to the U.S.

I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a “joy quotient,” but in my head I believe there is. Who would a win make happier in this situation, the Americans, who rule the world and win everything, or a country of 33 million people who invented the sport?

It was a marvelous display of hockey, the best the world has to offer, for these last two weeks. The U.S. showed great heart and skill in getting all the way to overtime of the gold medal game, when people like me and others figured a bronze would be fantastic.

So thrilled to have been able to see Sunday’s game, and the one before it last Sunday. Two classics. If hockey doesn’t pick up some new fans after Sunday, I give up. The sport will never be popular.

Some quickie thoughts on the game:

— It’s only right that Sidney Crosby, the heir to Wayne Gretzky, gets the second-biggest goal in Canada history (Paul Henderson in ’72 still leads). Sid did nothing all game, but the great ones show up at the exact right moment.

— Patrick Kane. Wow.  What an amazing tournament for the American forward. As good as he is in the NHL season, he was phenomenal over the last two weeks. Glad the world got to see how lucky the Chicago Blackhawks are.

— Zach Parise, I’ve always hated you because you’re a New Jersey Devil. For that game-tying goal, you get a one-year pass where I don’t say anything bad about you. What a fantastic player he is.

— I’ll be very curious, as an NHL fan, to see the changes in some of the players who excelled in Vancouver. Does Ryan Miller, emboldened as maybe the best goalie in the sport, get even better and lead Buffalo places? Does Zach Parise get even more confident with the Devils? And closest to my heart, does Chris Drury play that well for my Rangers, and get us in to the playoffs this year?

— If that game had stayed tied after one 20-minute overtime, we would’ve had a shootout to decide it. And if the U.S. had won the gold medal in a shootout, I think everyone in Canada would’ve keeled over right there, while screaming “A shootout? What the hell kind of newfangled way is that to end a bleepin’ game?” And then their Molsons would’ve spilled as they hit the carpet.

— God I love hockey. So many people got wrapped up in this game Sunday. I’d say 80 percent of my Facebook friend universe had posted something about the game, and a bar in Daytona Beach that I pass all the time called The Wing House actually had “USA vs. Canada, watch it here” on its marquee Sunday. I’m willing to bet that’s never happened in Daytona Beach, ever.

Please, let’s hope the NHL uses this momentum now. It may not last long.

**So it was hard, but David Paterson has done it.

It’s hard to be a governor who ends up with as bad a reputation as his predecessor in the New York State top job, Eliot Spitzer. You know, the guy who was hiring high-class hookers and paying for it all with a credit card.

Well, the guy who succeeded Spitzer has bumbled his way through one mistake after another in the last two years. Paterson, America’s first blind governor (a worthy distinction, that) announced over the weekend that he’s not running for re-election like he said he would, because, apparently, he used his power as governor to intervene into a top aide’s domestic dispute.

Just terrible behavior by Paterson, really stupid stuff. I mean, not being the governor and paying for a hooker-stupid, but dumb nonetheless.

I have to tell you, I’ve always felt sorry for Paterson since he became governor. Here’s a guy, who never really wanted the top job, was more than happy working behind the scenes, and then gets thrust into being governor because his boss couldn’t keep his fly zippered or his wallet closed.

Paterson is a pretty poor public speaker, doesn’t seem to be passionate about much, and just kind of seemed overwhelmed by the job.

He’ll be a footnote to state history, I’m guessing. Now the path is clear for Andrew Cuomo (who I’ve always liked since my friend Andrew worked for him) to become Governor.

See ya, Dave. Hey, at least he’s a Jets fan. That ought to ease his pain of losing this plum gig.

The aura of LeBron, and a magnificent win for USA Hockey

I wouldn’t say I’m jaded.

After 13 years of being a sportswriter, I’ll just say I don’t get nearly as excited about covering events or games as I used to.

It’s one of the many dirty little secrets of being a sportswriter: After a while, we just don’t care that much, most of the time.

But there are certain things that still get my adrenaline going. I feel a little thrill on the way to the field, or the gym, or the rink. There are still so many cool things we get to do.

Sunday, I felt that way. Sunday, I went to see LeBron.

People scoff and mock when I say that LeBron James might end up being better than Michael Jordan. But I truly believe he might. The 6-foot-8, 260-pound human force of nature is the only reason I care about the NBA anymore; going to the Orlando Magic-Cleveland Cavaliers game was the first time all season I’d watched an entire NBA game. (Hey, my Nets are 5-50, what do you expect?)

Why did I go, to write a column on a Sunday afternoon when I could’ve easily stayed home?

Because I only saw Michael Jordan live once, at the end of his career when he was a Washington Wizard. That would’ve been like only seeing Willie Mays with the Mets, or Joe Montana with the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a terrible representation of who and what they were. I never saw MJ in his prime, and I feel my grandkids will suffer for it (I’ve gotta tell them stories, you know)

And so since I feel I was gyped on Jordan, I’ve decided I’m going to see LeBron in person as much as I can. He’s just that freaking good. Last season, I interviewed him a couple of times in a group, and piqued his interest briefly when I noticed he was reading “Outliers,” then a new book by Malcolm Gladwell.

He’s not a criminal, he’s not a moron, he’s a genuinely polite and successful kid who has the whole world in his palm and doesn’t usually act like it.

Sunday, he was his typically brilliant self, slashing his way to the basket, hitting rainbow jumpers, and toying with the Magic. Orlando won, but LeBron was the show, as usual.

And I was very glad I got to see it.

**And now, a bowling interlude: Yours truly, in a bowling for the public schools charity thingy on Saturday, rolled a 185. My highest score in at least 10 years or so (I rarely bowl).  I was darn excited and proud of myself. Thank you.

**OK, when people in my Facebook friend universe are writing about hockey in their status updates, I know this was not just an ordinary game.

In as exciting a hockey game as I’ve seen in quite some time, the U.S. Olympic men’s team, despite being outshot 2-to-1, pulled off a thrilling 5-3 win over Canada in Vancouver.

This is what hockey should be about; I kept thinking while watching the game. This is like the NHL All-Star game, but with checking and intensity. Fabulous game by Ryan Miller in net for the U.S., and an incredible defensive effort in the third period by all of America’s boys.

And that diving goal by Ryan Kesler into an empty net, when the American shocked everyone in the area by poking it in and outworking the Canadian defenseman? That hustle, that effort, that desire, should be put into an instructional video and shown to every youth hockey team.

What a great win, and a tremendous upset. No, it wasn’t the Miracle on Ice, not even close. But still, pretty damn good.

I bet you there are a bunch more hockey fans in the U.S. tonight than there were on Saturday.

Of course, the American win could be erased in a few days, if Canada goes on to win the gold medal. But still, you have to think the weight of the pressure on the Canadian guy is even heavier than it was a few days ago.

Can’t wait for the next game, Wednesday.

A thrilling game Sunday. And oh yeah, the Super Bowl was good, too

I know every sports-related blog in America will be starting with the Super Bowl today, and I’ll have plenty of thoughts on that in a minute.

But just to be a little different, let me tell you how amazing that Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game was Sunday afternoon. Sidney Crosby, the second-greatest player in the NHL, scores twice, and helps his team get up 4-1. Then Alex Ovechkin, who I’d stalk if I lived in D.C., and also the greatest player in the NHL, comes back with a hat trick and sets up the game-winning goal in overtime, as the Caps won 5-4.

As I keep saying, this rivalry right now, Caps-Penguins, is what hockey is all about. It’s thrilling every time they play, and anyone who wants to be introduced to how awesome hockey is, should make Caps-Pens their first required viewing. Great stuff.

**OK, now to the Super Bowl. Thought it was a really good game; not quite as dramatic as last year, but still really damn good.

First, the non-football stuff, the commercials:

— Absolutely loved the Google commercial about the guy studying abroad in Paris, which led to so many other things. I thought the Vizio spot was really cool, too, and the Monster.com ad of a beaver playing a violin, well, how could you go wrong with cute animals doing Mozart?

But I think my favorite ad was the Audi “Green Police” commercial; thought it was brilliant:

— I guess I have to weigh in on the Tim Tebow/Focus on the Family ad, which I criticized quite harshly on CNN.com here. It was totally harmless. I don’t know if the ad was originally more strident, and because of all the controversy Focus on the Family toned it down, or if it was just always that benign.

Again, my point in the column wasn’t to criticize Tebow; it was to point out CBS’s awful double standard: Homosexuals, bad. Christian anti-abortionists, good.

— I thought The Who were fine as halftime entertainment, though I was hoping Pete Townsend would break his guitar at the end. Though Posnanski had a great line: Will Pete Townsend break his guitar, or break his hip?” Maybe the NFL can get ZZ Top or The Monkees for next year.

–OK, to the game itself. One of the more shocking sports things I’ve seen in my life, not up there with Douglas knocking out Tyson (just watched that clip again, still can’t believe it happened), but still pretty stunning, was the great Peyton Manning throwing that interception late in the fourth quarter. Tracy Porter made a great play, but it was one of those deals where you couldn’t believe Manning really screwed up like that, and to have it returned for a touchdown? Wow.

–Drew Brees, you were fantastic. Didn’t hit any long balls because the Colts took that away, but picked apart the defense.

— Man, at 24-17, I was convinced we were headed for our first Super Bowl overtime game.

— Phenomenal game by Jonathan Vilma, the ex-Jet. So glad Mangini decided to trade him.

— Great text from my good buddy Scott Sterbens, fellow Jet sufferer, after the Manning pick: “He couldn’t have effed up like that in the last game against us?”

Finally, how about the cojones Saints coach Sean Payton? Loved him going for it on fourth down in the first half, and the onside kick to start the third quarter took major guts. He knew he had to take risks to beat Manning, and he did.

— Oh yeah, in case you’re wondering, I still wasn’t sure who to pull for when the game started. I ended up cheering for the Saints; what a wonderful story for the city of New Orleans.

And now, no more football for a while. Sadness.

Who should be SI’s Sportsman of the Year, and some New York thoughts

So this Tuesday, Sports Illustrated, the greatest magazine ever invented, will announce its annual choice for Sportsman of the Year. It’s one of the few announcements of awards I still get a little excited about. When I was a kid, the Sportsman of the Year issue was always huge, a double issue at the end of the year. I also remember that my first ever issue I got as part of the subscription my Grandpa got me when I was 9 was the Mary Lou Retton/Edwin Moses Sportsman of the Year issue, from Dec., 1984 (I’ve been getting SI ever since).

Anyway, unlike last year, when a blind sea turtle could’ve predicted it would be Michael Phelps after his eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, this year doesn’t have a clear-cut winner.

So, in case SI needed my help, here’s my Top 5 for 2009:

1. Roger Federer: He would deserve one as a lifetime achievement award even if he did nothing this year (He absolutely could’ve won it in 2006 (they gave it, oddly, to Dwyane Wade) or 2007 (even more bizarrely, they gave it to Brett Favre). But the guy has been sensational this year in re-juvenating his slightly leveled off career. After a crushing loss to Rafael Nadal in the Aussie Open finals, he won his first French Open, completing the career Grand Slam, then outlasted Andy Roddick in five sets in Fed’s second consecutive epic Wimbledon final. In so doing, he broke the career mark for Grand Slams won by a male, with 15.

He’s also the classiest guy you’ll meet, and he fits the true definition of sportsman.

2. Usain Bolt: I know his big year was the Olympics in 2008, but the guy was even more phenomenal in 2009. He shattered his own track and field world records in the 100 meters and 200 meters, two marks that should’ve stood for years, not months. He made people care about track in a non-Olympic year, and that’s damn hard to do.

3. Kobe Bryant: I know, I know, I hate the guy and think he’s egotistical and a jerk and maybe even a rapist, although that, sadly, was never brought to a court of law in Colorado. But he did will his team to the championship of the NBA, and did it without Shaq.

4. Sidney Crosby: Won a Stanley Cup on the road, in a Game 7, against the Detroit Red Wings. Hard to do. He’s so young, and his Pittsburgh Penguins have a lot more winning to do.

5. Kim Clijsters: All she did was unretire, play a few tournaments, and then win the U.S. Open. Her smile lit up Flushing Meadows, and she’s such a wonderful story, a mother rediscovering her love for the game after a few years away. She won’t win the award, but she certainly is worthy.

Since it’s Thanksgiving weekend, the grandest time of year to eat leftovers, here are a few leftover thoughts from my brain after four days in NYC (yeah, I know, that was a REAL stretch for a segue there.)

***I cannot get over the 1,000 percent improvement in the bathrooms at Penn Station. When I went there as a kid, and then again when I worked in NYC from 2000-2002, the bathrooms were atrocious. Dirty, smelly, dark, with this crap powdered soap that never came out above the sinks. It was truly an unpleasant experience.

Now? It’s like a hotel bathroom or something. Clean, bright, with no terrible smell. Actual, real sinks, not one big trough, and actual, real soap coming out of the dispensers. Bravo, New York City.

***I love riding the subway. I know it’s probably one of those things where if I did it all the time like I used to, I’d take it for granted and not think twice about it. But that’s another major improvement in cleanliness and safety by New York City. All the subway maps are clearly marked and easy to read, the cars are well-lit, and I just never once felt at all unsafe.

**I raked leaves for an hour Saturday. It was actually fun, I hadn’t done it in so long. We don’t do much leaf-raking in Central Florida. It made me miss fall even more, but this was a good temporary fix.

And my question is this: Is there ever an age when you’re too old to rake a big pile of leaves, then jump happily into them, spraying them everywhere?

Didn’t think so.