Tag Archives: Stephen Colbert

Good News Friday: An 11-year-old makes 3 half-court shots… in a row. A boy in Texas raises money and food for a local pantry. And Stephen Colbert funds every single teacher project in S.C.

And a Happy Friday to you! There are no words to describe that press conference the Orange Man gave yesterday, so I’m moving right into the good stuff today.

It is extraordinarily rare that I will blog about anything positive that occurs on the University of North Carolina men’s basketball court, because I hate the Tar Heels (Duke has won six in a row, including beating UNC last week, cough cough).

But I’ll make an exception for this incredible feat. Eleven-year-old Asher Lucas is a ballboy for the Heels, and at a recent game, Asher got to take center stage at halftime. There was a snowstorm in the Carolinas that weekend, and the previously-scheduled halftime act couldn’t make it to the Dean Smith Center.

So Asher and his ballboy buddies got to run around and, just for fun, Asher decided to try some half-court shots.

He made the first one, and the crowd cheered. He made the second one, and the crowd exploded in noise. Then he took a third one… and made it. And the fans just went nuts.

Just amazing.

 

**Next up today, a really inspiring story from a 7-year-old boy named Kaden Newton in Rockwall, Tex.

When Kaden took a visit with his parents to a local food pantry a few years ago, he noticed there weren’t many “kid-friendly” items to eat. So he decided to ask friends and family to donate his two favorite kid foods, macaroni and cheese and pancakes, to him so he could deliver it to the food pantry.

Within 10 days, Kaden’s new company “Mac and Cheese and Pancakes” had gone viral, and he received 7,000 packages of food to donate.

“It made my heart feel happy,” he said. “It will always makes me feel happy.”

What an amazing little boy.

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**Finally, Stephen Colbert is a Grade-A human being, of that few dispute. He’s humble, he’s good-hearted, and he doesn’t take himself or his success too seriously.

Here’s yet another example: The website donorschoose.org is a fabulous resource for educators, who post ideas for projects or lessons on the site and ask for financial help to carry them out. It’s sad in a way that teachers have to do this, but it’s also a great way for people who care about education to give teachers a boost.

Anyway, the teachers in South Carolina had nearly 1,000 projects on the website as of last week, and Colbert partnered with two organizations to fund every single one of them, at more than 375 schools, for a total donation of $800,000.

So every single project requested by a Palmetto State teacher will be funded by Colbert, a South Carolina native.

Just fantastic.

Bernie and Hillary, a team made not quite in heaven. A bizarre Colbert sketch reminds me of 1980s Letterman show. And the father who took out an ad searching for a wife for his son

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Well, it finally happened. It took all the until mid-July, but the old Jewish guy from Vermont finally endorsed the woman who will be our next President, his former rival.

No one could ever accuse our man Bernie Sanders of being hasty. More than a month after he formally lost the race to be the Democratic presidential nominee, and two months after it was realistically over for him, the man from Vermont officially endorsed Hillary Clinton Tuesday.

But man, it sure as heck didn’t sound much like an endorsement. I’ve seen 9-year-old boys more enthusiastic about eating Brussels sprouts than Bernie was about Hillary.

Most of his speech on Tuesday was about everything he, Bernie, and his followers have accomplished, and what He, Bernie, thinks. He mentioned Hillary a few times and sort of, kind of endorsed her, but mostly he was saying “I’m supporting her because she’s finally come to our side on some issues.”

Look, I’m no Hillary Clinton fan as I’ve said many, many times on here, but Bernie really is seeming like a sore, sore loser at this point. His ego seems a bit out of control. His grudging endorsement of Hillary is just the latest sign that Bernie doesn’t want to get off the stage, at all, and that he’s enjoyed the attention he’s gotten the last year so much that he can’t do without it.

Bernie, I love ya. But sadly this election might actually be close, and it might help if you would, to quote the name of the show starring the man who plays on “SNL,” curb your enthusiasm about how awesome you are, and do your best to actually, enthusiastically support the candidate who won.

**Next up today, this Stephen Colbert zany sketch from last week is the most bizarre thing I’ve seen in a while. It’s very reminiscent to me of the old David Letterman late-night show from NBC in the 1980s, when Dave would do weird stuff just because he knew no one was watching.

This skit has three concurrent challenges going at once, with them each trying to finish their task first: Colbert cooking and eating a Hot Pocket, a world-champion videogame player trying to win Super Mario Bros. 3, and a four-man college track team from Columbia University running a 4×100 meter dash.

With sportscaster Ian Eagle calling the action! Really funny stuff.

**Finally, from the files of “Really Dad, this is how you choose to help me?” files.

Spare a thought today for poor Baron Brooks, a 48-year-old Salt Lake City resident.

We all know our parents embarrass us sometimes, but rarely this publicly. Baron’s dad, Arthur, took out a $900, full page ad in an Idaho newspaper advertising for a wife for his son.

Arthur did this without permission, and he didn’t exactly “sell” his son very well.

The ad is written from Baron’s point of view (which of course makes it sound like he wrote it and paid for it!) and states that he is looking for a wife who fits very specific criteria. Specifically, the ad calls for a woman “between the ages of 34-38,” which is 10 years younger than Baron, and “height and weight proportional,” which is basically like saying “no fat chicks.”

Poor Baron. But amazingly, since this story went viral a few weeks ago, his dad has gotten 12 responses from women who say they want to meet Baron.

If one of them turns out to be his wife, you think ole’ Arthur gets forgiven?

Nah.

Good News Friday: A rape victim and the football coach she partially blames for it have a wonderful reconciliation. Stephen Colbert tells a beautiful story of how he met his wife. And Vin Scully tells a great story on first seeing Sandy Koufax

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Trying to stay to the theme of Good News Friday is tough when we had two consecutive days of police officers shooting and killing unarmed African-American men, and then the unfathomable killings of five police officers in Dallas Thursday night. America is coming apart at the seams, it feesl like…

We start Good News Friday today with an unlikely “good news” angle, but bear with me, it’s good news at the end.

Eighteen years ago, a 24-year-old Oregon woman named Brenda Tracy was gang-raped by four members of the Oregon State football team. As frustratingly happens far too often in these cases, the charges were eventually dropped, and Tracy was left with awful memories and horrors.

One of the horrible memories she’s carried around for years was a quote from then-OSU football coach Mike Riley, who when the charges were dropped told the press that the players “were really good men who just made a bad choice.”

A bad choice. What despicable, disgusting words. Tracy says now that she hated Riley for those words “more than I hated my rapists … I hated him with every cell in my body.”

Bravely, Tracy opened up to reporter John Canzano of The Oregonian newspaper in 2014, and after Canzano reached out to Riley for comment, the coach expressed some remorse. He said he probably should’ve “done something more to send a message” than simply suspending the players for one game.

“Maybe I should have done more.”

Second, the coach asked Canzano if he thought Tracy might come and talk to his team.

“That would be a compelling talk,” Riley said. “A real-life talk. Instead of just talking about rape and sexual assault, actually having someone talk about how things can change for everyone in a moment like that.”

That was 2014. Two years later, Riley, now coaching at Nebraska, finally followed up on his idea. He contacted Tracy a few months ago, and in mid-June, before addressing the team, Tracy and Riley finally met.

“He hugged me,” Tracy said in this remarkable Washington Post story. “Then he allowed me to cry on his shoulder for a few minutes.” Riley listened to Tracy’s story, and he apologized profusely. Then this brave woman stood up in front of the entire Cornhuskers team and described the horrors of her rape, and the aftermath, including telling how much she had hated Riley.

This is exactly how change occurs. Education, first-hand experience, and a man like Riley, raised in the ridiculous macho world of football, growing and evolving and helping show the next generation how to avoid thinking like he did.

It took two decades, but good for Riley, and good for Brenda Tracy, learning to forgive, and taking a horrible nightmare and turning it into something that could, who knows, help other women in the future.

**Next up, on a lighter note, Stephen Colbert told this great story the other night to his studio audience before his talk show. It’s about how Colbert met his wife, and it’s sweet, self-deprecating, and all over the place, like any great story.

I hope Colbert’s show gets better ratings soon; the guy really seems like a mensch.

http://www.popsugar.com/celebrity/Stephen-Colbert-Talks-About-Meeting-His-Wife-July-2016-41888992

**Finally today, a few words from the legendary Vin Scully, who I’ve featured a few times here this year as we prepare for his retirement from the broadcast booth of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a mere 67 years after he began (I hate people who move around and can’t stay in one place like Scully, you know?)

The other night on a Dodgers broadcast Scully told a sweet little tale of the first time he saw legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax. As always, it’s funny and interesting and entertaining.

The man is a true national treasure.

 

Google thanks the 86-year-old woman who always says please and thank you. A few more thoughts on the incredible LeBron James story. And Stephen Colbert eviscerates Trump

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Couple of quick “one-off” thoughts before we get to the three stories on today’s post:

Finally got a chance to watch “All The Way,” the Bryan Cranston as LBJ HBO movie from last month. Man oh man, Cranston is one hell of an actor. I thought the movie was wildly entertaining, with fantastic performances by Bradley Whitford as Hubert Humphrey, Stephen Root as J. Edgar Hoover, and Frank Langella as legendary Senator Richard Russell of Georgia. But Cranston right now is like Federer from 2003-07: Just on another level. His LBJ’s mixture of rage, sarcasm, amusement and paranoia was pitch-perfect. Incredible portrayal of a deeply complicated man. I hope he gets an Emmy.

— Lionel Messi is the best soccer player in the world. Tuesday night he played in America, and his Argentine team kicked the crap out of the U.S. This goal was kinda awesome.

So this is the kind of small story that makes me think not all huge companies are evil. And that even on the Internet, there are people with manners.

An 86-year-old English woman named May Ashworth uses Google like the rest of us. Unlike the rest of us, though, when she typed in queries she thought she was talking to an actual person at Google HQ, who would help her with her questions.

So every time she performed a search, May would say “please” and “thank you” before and after. For example, one time May asked “please translate these Roman Numerals MCMXVCIII thank you.”

Her grandson discovered that she did this, and Tweeted out a photo of one of her requests. Google UK got wind of it and Tweeted the following:

“Dearest Ben’s Nan.
Hope you’re well.
In a world of billions of Searches, yours made us smile.
Oh, and it’s 1998.
Thank YOU@Push10Ben

Such a small thing, a little courtesy like that. But in a world of rude and impolite people, this story made me smile. Good job, Google.

**Next up today, you know, if he wasn’t such a sexist, racist, xenophobic, arrogant pig, I might almost be starting to feel sorry for Donald Trump.

The “vulgar, talking yam” as Charlie Pierce calls him, is having one hell of a bad month. His campaign is apparently broke, with less than $2 million cash on hand, he just fired his campaign manager, none of the rich Republican billionaires want to give him money nor have anything to do with him, and he’s alienating people at a faster rate than I thought possible.

But again, whereas 99 percent of people might engender some sympathy here, this a-hole gets none.

Stephen Colbert, whose late-night show, I must admit, has been kinda underwhelming so far, did a magnificent, blistering piece on Trump a few nights back. It was, I might say, rather “Daily Show-esque” when Jon Stewart was running things.

Stay till the end, the best part is in the final minute. Bravo, Stephen.

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**Finally today, a few more thoughts about LeBron James and the incredible comeback he and the Cleveland Cavaliers made to win the NBA title Sunday. I thought about this briefly Sunday night but my thoughts were so jumbled after that fabulous game I didn’t get a chance to write about it then.

This story, this “LeBron wins one for Cleveland” story, is really unlike anything we’ve ever seen in sports. Consider: Phenom is born and raised in Northeast Ohio, with huge expectations placed on him at age 16. His hometown team, which was down in the dumps, gets the No.1 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery the year LeBron graduates high school (2003).

He represents the hopes and dreams of an entire region’s fan base. He leads them close but not quite to the elusive title. Then after seven years, he goes on national TV and humiliates those fans and that team. Snubs them so publicly, and announces he’s going to play somewhere else, so he can win a championship.

The fans burn his jersey; they curse his name, they hate him with every fiber of their being. The phenom wins two titles in Miami, and he’s still hated in Cleveland. Those were supposed to be OUR championships, is the cry.

Then, after four years away, the prodigal son comes home. This NEVER happens in sports; you never see a star go back to where he’s from after such a brutal and hostile breakup.

But LeBron came home. And he promised he’d win a championship for a city that hadn’t seen one in 52 years. And then, with his team down 3-1 in the Finals this year, he orchestrates the biggest NBA Finals comeback ever. And wins. And is a much bigger hero than he’s ever been to the people of his hometown.

I mean, could you sell that script to Hollywood? Could you imagine that actually happening? They’d laugh you out of the room.

Just a sensational sports story. One we’ve never seen, and probably never will again. Lee Jenkins’ cover story on LeBron in this week’s SI is a must-read.

The Kansas State band gets “accidentally” naughty. Joe Biden on Colbert was beautiful. And an Iranian judge assigns book reports to criminals

You know, I really love college bands. They’re usually really creative and sometimes quite clever, they make college games fun, and they bring a little extra spirit.

When I lived in Daytona Beach I got to hear the Bethune-Cookman marching band a few times; HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) always have kick-ass bands, and Cookman’s was no different.

Anyway, my point is, I love college marching bands. And I also love when they, intentionally or unintentionally, do something hilarious.

Kansas State’s big rival is, of course, Kansas University. Well, for the Wildcats’ opening game two Saturdays ago, the band was performing some sort of tribute to the Starship Enterprise from “Star Wars,” and well, it looked like a giant penis, which went right into the mouth of a Kansas Jayhawk.

You think I’m exaggerating? Check this out…

K-State claims it was only trying to represent the Enterprise, the spaceship from the “Star Trek” shows and movies, doing battle with the University of Kansas Jayhawk.

The university fined the band $5,000, and the band director swears he didn’t mean for it to look like, what it looked like.

Can’t wait to see what they come up with when they play Kansas this year.

**Next up, I’m still catching up on a lot of the media I missed while engorging tennis at the U.S. Open the past two weeks, so I just got a chance to see this phenomenal, emotional interview Joe Biden did with Stephen Colbert on his new show. Really terrific stuff; if there’s one thing Biden definitely is, it’s real. I hope he runs for President, but even if he doesn’t, he’s shown great courage being so openly naked and honest about his emotions after the death of his son, Beau.

Here’s Part I of the interview above, you can watch Part 2 here. The whole thing is fabulous.

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**Finally today, it’s not often you get to use “fun story” and “Iran” in the same sentence, but today’s a day you can. I heard this on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and couldn’t possibly believe it was real, but it is:

A judge in Iran has started sentencing criminals to buy and read books and do reports on them, instead of handing down prison terms.

According to this story, Judge Qasem Naqizadeh, who presides over a court in the north-eastern city of Gonbad-e Kavus, is using the alternative sentences to avoid what he calls the “irreversible physical and psychological impact on convicts and their families” that a prison term might bring, state-run IRNA news agency reports. Individuals are told to buy and read five books, then write a summary of them, which is returned to the judge. The books are then donated to the local prison, IRNA says. The punishment is spiritual as well as educational – offenders also have to include a saying from the hadith, a collection of sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad.

I cannot stress enough how fabulous this is. I so wish this could be done by judges in America. You tried to sell a couple kilos of cocaine? Go read this book on Pablo Escobar and have a 10-page report on my desk in two weeks. You robbed a few stores? Go read “Crime and Punishment,” it’s a nice short read, you’ll breeze through it in no time.

I think crime would be drastically reduced if criminals knew they’d be sent back to doing seventh grade homework, don’t you?

I’d bet a fair amount of money that judge’s mom or Dad was an English teacher.

In the Women’s World Cup final, the U.S. steamrolls Japan. Stephen Colbert and Eminem, kicking it on public access TV. And Manic Monday at Wimbledon is here!

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Well that was a pretty typical soccer game Sunday night in the Women’s World Cup final, huh? Very little action, barely a goal, ton of boring stuff…

Um, yeah. That wasn’t a soccer game, that was a track meet in cleats. If more soccer games were like that, I might actually watch the sport more than once a year.

With 15 years of built-up World Cup frustration, the U.S. Women’s National team unleashed holy hell all over Japan, getting revenge from the heartbreaking 2011 finals loss and just blitzing their opponents.

The score was 4-0 after 20 minutes, which is insane. It’d be like a football game being 42-0 in the first quarter, or a basketball game being 46-3 after the first period.

Carli Lloyd, who’s the new hero of millions of American sports fans and most 11-year-old girls (move over, T. Swift), scored a hat trick in the first half, and the final was 5-2, and the second half was basically academic.

What a wonderful moment for women’s sports. I don’t think this World Cup-winning team will get the incredible recognition and fame the 1999 team got, because of the circumstances in which that team won, that is was on U.S. soil, it got unprecedented attendance and TV ratings, etc. (Just for fun, I asked some friends who are soccer-savvy on Twitter Sunday night who would win if the ’99ers played this team. All said this year’s group would win.)

But this team is sensational. And deserve every ounce of attention they will get. Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, the legendary Abby Wambach… just great stuff.

Congrats, ladies. Take a well-deserved curtain call.

**Next up, Stephen Colbert continues to do weird and wonderful stuff while getting ready to take over David Letterman’s old time slot on CBS late night. Last week he took over a public access TV show in Monroe, Mich., and completely played it straight, interviewing the show’s usual hosts, and then bringing on “Michigan native” Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, and the two put on a hilarious deadpan interview, including Colbert asking him “Are you one of those slow-talking rappers or fast-talking rappers?”

The first five minutes are my favorite part, but the whole thing is great.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01: Venus Williams (l) and Serena Williams of the United States during their Ladies Doubles second round match against Kristina Barrois of Germany and Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland on day eight of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

**Finally today, my favorite tennis tournament has always been Wimbledon, which of course is going on now, and the best day at Wimbledon is always the second Monday.
It’s called “Manic Monday,” and not because all tennis fans worship the Bangles (though hey, if they were good enough for Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, they’re good enough for me.)

Today is the day when every player left in the singles draw plays, with eight men’s matches and eight women’s matches on top. It is fantastic and filled with great tennis all day.

Today’s Manic Monday is even more special because for the first time in six years at a Grand Slam, the Williams sisters will square off. I could spill barrels of ink writing about the incredible impact on sport Serena and Venus has, about how the younger sister Serena has far eclipsed her sister’s accomplishments, and how this likely is the final time the two will meet in such a significant match.

My e-migo Jonathan Newman has written a great piece here about the rivalry and today’s match; for me, even though neither player is my favorite, the historical nature and specialness of it will make it must-see TV.

Happy Wimbledon Manic Monday, everyone. And also, check out this terrific piece by Pete Sampras, wherein he writes a letter to his 16-year-old self. Really great stuff here.

Jon Stewart is leaving “The Daily Show,” a huge loss but it’s for the best. John Oliver’s back, and hilarious again. And the amazing Venezuela tourist ad featuring an imprisoned American

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Just about everyone on television stays too long at the party.  Popular sitcoms that were once fabulous go on years past their expiration date (I’m looking at you, “Mad About You” and “Seinfeld,”) broadcasters hang around until they’re a parody of themselves (I’m looking at you, Chris Berman and Dan Rather), and basically the majority of people on TV have to be dragged kicking and screaming away from the red light.

Which is why I was at first sad, but then happy to hear Tuesday night that the great Jon Stewart, who for 15 years has been the funniest, most incisive commentator on television, announced he’d be leaving “The Daily Show” sometime in 2015.

There has been no more consistent source of humor in the 21st century than Stewart. Whether he’s mocking politicians, other celebrities, or most hilariously, CNN and Fox News, he’s always been brilliantly clever, cutting-edge funny, and just plain joyous to watch.I went back through my blog archives tonight to find the quintessential Stewart clip I’ve shared on here the last 5 1/2 years, and each time I watched a few seconds of one I remembered how great it was, and truly, I could’ve spent hours watching his old bits.

I picked the one I’m linking here because it’s one near and dear to my heart (about education), and because it illustrates just how smart and funny Stewart and his team are. But honestly, there have been hundreds of brilliant clips over the years.

“The Daily Show” has been about more than just laughs; it’s had a legitimate impact on our culture.

It was “The Daily Show” that kept Congress’ feet to the fire on the issue of giving 9/11 responders compensation for their illnesses, and Stewart’s rage against CNBC, Jim Cramer and the yahoos who helped cause the economic meltdown of 2008 educated millions of Americans who didn’t understand the complex financial jargon.

It has, of course, also given us Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carell, and a million laughs. And it’s still going strong; his stuff on Ferguson last summer was as good as anyone else covered the tragedy.

Which is why I’m glad Stewart is leaving now, while he’s still got his fastball. He can do so many other things with his career, and he’s smart enough to leave before he gets stale.

I’ll certainly watch whatever he does next.

**Speaking of John Oliver, the brilliant HBO show he stars in “Last Week Tonight” is back from a three-month break, and he kicked some serious butt in the premiere Sunday night.

His bit on the scam of Big Pharma being in bed with doctors was great, but I loved this salute to the soon-to-be-toe-tagged Radio Shack even better.

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**And finally, this story is fantastic in oh so many ways. The tourism department for the government of Venezuela has been running a new ad campaign to boost the nation’s morale. One of the ads they’ve run features a Caucasian man hugging someone lovingly, with a big smile on his face.

The tagline reads: “We love Venezuela … for receiving foreigners like one of our own.”

Except there’s just one problem. The photo they used is of American reporter Jim Wyss, who in the photo has just been released after being wrongfully detained for two days in a Venezuelan prison.

Yes, that’s right folks: To highlight how friendly Venezuela is to foreigners, they showed us a man who they illegally threw in jail!

Too damn funny. I can’t wait until Russia’s tourism ad with Edward Snowden.

The best and funniest newspaper corrections of the year. Stephen Colbert goes out with a bang. And Rex Ryan loses one more soul-crusher to Belichick

 

It is of course the time of year when we are all inundated with lists, best-ofs, and other reminders that the 12 months we just lived are about to end, and a new year will start.

But if you read this column regularly you know that only one year-end list really matters to me, and really makes me happy: Craig Silverman of the Poynter Institute’s “Regret the Error” column, rounding up the best, worst and most hilarious newspaper or magazine corrections of the year.

I cringe when I read some of these, because as a longtime journalist I can see exactly how some of them could’ve happened (hey, at my first job in Wilmington, N.C. I once ran a photo with an obit of a guy he died. Except it was the wrong picture; dude whose mug we ran was very much alive, and called the next day to express his displeasure about being prematurely killed. Hey, no one’s perfect!)

Anyway, these are always great and worth your time. Some of my favorites from this year’s collection (the whole column can be read here):

From the Washington Post:  An earlier version of this story erroneously said that Joaquín Guzmán was found in bed with his secretary. He was found with his wife. This version has been corrected.

From SlateThis post originally quoted photographer Tom Sanders as saying it takes him five years to get on the dance floor. It takes him five beers.

From The DartmouthA front-page editorial published Oct. 17 calling for the abolition of the Greek system at Dartmouth stated that in the late 1980s, Alpha Delta fraternity pledges were forced to perform oral sex on an ejaculating dildo. The editorial should have stated that some pledges were required to simulate oral sex on an inanimate object, which the house’s advisor now says may have been a banana.

Glad they got that cleared up.

**Next up, the great Stephen Colbert ended his groundbreaking “Colbert Report” last Thursday night, and it was beautiful. For the final segment, he gathered a whole bunch of famous people in his studio, including Jeff Bridges, Barry Manilow, Katie Couric, Bryan Cranston and Willie Nelson, for a rousing chorus of “We’ll Meet Again.” Seriously, he had every famous person alive (EW.com has the full list of everyone on stage here; it’s dizzying.)

I thought this was great. Colbert takes over for Letterman next spring, and we all know he’ll do a great job, but the “Report” brought the funny each and every night.
It’ll be missed.

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**Finally today, some thoughts from the gridiron, as the NFL season winds down and we get set for what looks like it’ll be a wide, wide-open playoffs:

— So because I’m a masochist, I watched most of the Jets-Patriots game, even though I knew exactly how it would end. It’s like a movie you’ve seen 50 times so you know the ending, but you just can’t stop watching, anyway.

Jets defense played great, confusing Tom Brady. Jets offense played well between the 20’s, only to completely stall inside the red zone. And just when the game’s close, just when Gang Green might pull it out, Brady embarks on a clock-killing drive that ends the game.
Happens so damn often. At least the Jets made ’em sweat a little, and didn’t worsen their draft position. But I hate, hate, hate losing to Belichick and Brady. 17-16 was the final, so damn close.

— Who’s excited for that divisional showdown with a playoff spot on the line next week, the 6-8-1 Carolina Panthers vs. the 6-9 Atlanta Falcons! Anyone? Anyone? What a joke that one of those losing teams will get to host a playoff game.

— Couple games to get legit excited about next week: Bengals-Steelers for all the marbles in the AFC North, and Lions at Packers for all the marbles in the NFC North. Nothing better than football in Green Bay in late December.

— Mark Sanchez, you made me all nostalgic Saturday night. Throwing a couple of key interceptions, helping cost your team a playoff berth… man, it’s like it’s 2011 all over again. (Wipes tears away with Kleenex.)

— Arizona, you ain’t going nowhere with Ryan Lindley. Watched some of that game Sunday night and I’m sorry, there’s a reason he’s third-string.

— Finally, the Buffalo Bills. Oh, the Buffalo Bills. Huge win last week, giving their fans hope for the playoffs. Then Sunday, they lose to … the awful Oakland Raiders? Really Buffalo? Been 15 years now since they made the playoffs. Those fans deserve better.

Rams players continue recent trend of athlete activism, and its awesome. A hilarious cartoon I didn’t get at first. And man reveals in obit that he was Spider-Man

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I was going to write a throwaway line or two Sunday night about the five St. Louis Rams players who, before their game with the Raiders, protested the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson non-indictment decision in Ferguson.

But the more I thought about it, I felt it deserved its own post.

What the Rams players did, if you didn’t see it, was come out in pregame introductions and throw their hands up, in the now-familiar “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” symbol that has become such a part of the Ferguson protest movement.

Predictably, some on the lunatic fringe went nuts, accusing the NFL players of siding against the police (Less predictably, the St. Louis police department lost their damn minds, vaguely threatening to no longer protect Rams players in the community. Stephen Colbert perfectly captured the insanity of this.)

But what this small protest was, to me, was a continuation of a welcome trend in pro sports over the past few years: Athletes using their status to speak out on social and current issues.
We’ve seen LeBron James and the Miami Heat publicly show solidarity with Trayvon Martin. Major league baseball players threatened to boycott the All-Star Game in Arizona in 2010 over the state’s proposed draconian anti-immigration law, and then-active NFL’ers like Chris Kluwe and Brendan Ayanbadejo strongly supported gay-rights legislation.

This is all in stark contrast to what athletes mostly did in the 1980s and ’90s, when Michael Jordan’s infamous quote when asked to oppose racist Senator Jesse Helms (“Republicans buy sneakers, too) typified how star athletes felt. Then, it seemed they couldn’t be bothered, so self-centered and greedy and single-minded were they.

Why are athletes so much more motivated now? Maybe it has to do with the explosion of social media, with athletes feeling a closer connection to their fans and communities and feeling safer in expressing their views.

Maybe, like LeBron, more of them simply feel they ought to use their standing for good, to push issues even further into consciousness, and force sports fans to think about other things (always a good idea).

I don’t really know the reason, nor do I care. I’m just thrilled that so many of today’s “heroes” have a social conscience. They have so much influence over kids, it’s great to see them push something more than sports drinks and headphones.

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**Next up, my boy Pearlman threw this out on Twitter last week; a cartoon by Mark Parisi from a few years back, and it stumped me for a while, then made me annoyed that I didn’t get it, then when the joke was pointed out to me I laughed real hard.
So far of the 10 people I’ve shown it to, only 2 have gotten it straight out. But since my readers are brilliant, I’m sure you’ll get it. Pretty damn funny if you ask me…

**Finally today, I thought this was all kinds of awesome. A 35-year-old Minnesota man named Aaron Purmort died of brain cancer last week, but in his obit in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, he revealed that he was indeed, Spider-Man.

The obit reads that “mild-mannered” Purmort “died peacefully at home on Nov. 25 after complications from a radioactive spider bite that led to years of crime-fighting and a years long battle with a nefarious criminal named Cancer, who has plagued our society for far too long.”

The obit goes on to say that Purmort is survived by his wife, Nora, and their young son, Ralph. He cites accomplishments including a high school band “which reached critical acclaim in the northern suburbs,” a degree from the College of Visual Arts “which also died an untimely death recently,” and his ability to always have “the right cardigan and the right thing to say (even if it was wildly inappropriate).”

That’s a beautiful obit for a man taken far too young. But hey, he did get to be Spider-Man during his life, so that’s something. (I also love that in the comments section of the obit there’s an entry from “Bruce Wayne,” saying they’ll meet again somewhere.”

Humor is the best antidote to everything in life.

 

Thoughts on an Emmys show that was all “Bad.” And an Australian hockey player with the weirdest goal celebration you’ve seen

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While trying to forget that I ever saw Lena Dunham’s dress, I thoroughly enjoyed Monday night’s Emmy Awards. Sure, there weren’t a ton of surprises, and it seemed like just being a movie star made you royalty at the Emmys, but I thought it as a real fun show.

As usual, my wife joined me in the peanut gallery and so some of these reactions/comments are hers.

—  So glad “Breaking Bad” was so successful: Anna Gunn was amazing in the final season of BB, and despite everyone in the world saying McConnaughey was going to win Best Actor,  Bryan Cranston so deserved it. As so many implored me to do a year ago, if you haven’t watched “Breaking Bad” yet, it’s really time to start.

— Was waiting to see who would do a Robin Williams tribute,  and how sweet it would be. Billy Crystal hit it out of the park. You could tell how choked up Billy got at times, and he was warm, funny and terrific.

— Biggest upset of the night? I think it was Julianna Margulies beating Claire Danes, Lizzy Caplan and Robin Wright for best actress in a drama. And Margulies’ speech was sweet, too. (Wife’s comment: “Damn her husband looks young.”)

— Shouldn’t Stephen Colbert be hosting the Emmys or Oscars sometime soon? He’s fantastic. And his bit with Jimmy Fallon after Colbert won was pretty hilarious.

— Aaron Paul’s acceptance speech = perfection. Classy, humble, appreciative, just great. Man, I’m going to miss Jesse Pinkman.

— Seth Meyers, who I don’t normally think is all that funny, did a really good monologue. His jokes about HBO being the friend you should’ve been nicer to as kids was really good, and I loved the “Duck Dynasty” is the most VCR-taped joke, too. Thought it was a little weird that he seemed to keep trying to justify that the Emmys and TV are important; sounded a little needy.

— Wife and I were both completely puzzled by Alison Williams’ dress. No idea what the hell was going on there with the “Girls” actress, but it looked like a white animal had strangled her body.

— “The Normal Heart” thankfully got its kudos by winning Best Movie, and I love that Larry Kramer, sick as he looks, got to go on stage for that moment. The movie got totally hosed in the acting department, though; definitely  Matt Bomer and Mark Ruffalo should’ve won in their categories.

— What the hell was that mustache on Cranston? But his full-on makeout session when Julia Louis-Dreyfus won was hilarious.

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— Sarah Silverman winning over Amy Poehler/Tina Fey and Billy Crystal? Yeah, that was a shocker.

— Is there a reason we need to have the accountants announced at these awards shows? I mean, are we really in need of reassurance that these things aren’t fixed?

— Tweet of the Night came from Huffington Post, attached to this photo: “Who wore it Better?”

— Apparently red was the color every actress agreed to wear, my wife said. Hey, every woman looks good in red.

— Umm, what was under Kerry Washington’s dress? It looked like black metallic underwear.

— Yay Allison Janney winning for “Mom.”   It’s really a wildly funny show you should check out if you haven’t yet. What an awesome career Janney has had.

**Finally today, it’s late August so of course you’re looking for an awesome hockey highlight: This is Australian hockey player (a phrase I’ve never written before!) Ric Del Basso, scoring a game-winning shootout goal and then trying to skate backwards on his head.

I think the announcer said it best: “Win the game and try to give yourself a brain injury!”