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The Rundown

 

95th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Marches Through Manhattan – CBS New York

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade celebrated its 95th birthday yesterday. The world’s largest parade introduced Toni the Bandleader Bear, who was one of six new balloons to make an appearance. Parade goers were treated to a beautiful morning with temps in the mid-thirties and there were no incidents.

With the current state of the world being what it is, consider it a blessing.

At least five people killed after car rams through Wisconsin parade | Colombo Gazette

Because we need to save all the blessings we can find in a world gone mad. And that madness found its way to Waukesha, Wisconsin on Tuesday. 39 year old Darrell Brooks Jr. had a history of violence that included running over a woman with his vehicle earlier this month. His bail was set at $1,000 and he was without within a week. And that’s how a really bad guy, one who shared pro-Hitler memes and called for violence against white people, was able to become even worse.

He fulfilled that evil promise when he plowed into a Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring at least 40 others. And now we’re left to wonder why the system fails us when a complicated world needs it the most. And now we wait for that most sinister of narratives that seems to follow these tragedies.

What’s next?

Micro-Movie Review: With a lineup featuring Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and the Rock, “Red Notice” was going to be a good time. And it was. 

USFL unveils eight teams for inaugural season in 2022

It has been thirty-five years since the USFL spring football league closed up shop. It had carved a niche in its four year existence and may have been able to stick around if a few of the league owners hadn’t pushed for a move to the fall. One of the most vocal proponents of the move was New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump, who believed it would expedite a merger with the two leagues. He even won the lawsuit his league filed against the NFL . . in the sum of $1, which was tripled to $3 as per antitrust laws. And that, was that.

Until now.

The league will begin next spring by bringing back eight of their original clubs. While the USFL isn’t likely to lure college stars the way it once did- Hall of Famers Steve Young, Reggie White and Jim Kelly began their careers there- who knows? It might be able to convince Tom Brady to give them a shot . . .

The Miami Dolphins Weekly Report: The Miami Wine Festival will take place this Saturday evening at 7 pm on Lakeshore Drive. Tickets start at $49.

Maj. Ian Fishback, Who Exposed Abuse of Detainees, Dies at 42 - The New York Times

Ian Fishback passed away last Friday at an adult foster care facility in Bangor, Michigan. While the cause of death has not yet been determined, his family claims Fishback’s neurological condition had worsened as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000’s. Fishback was part of the Army’s 82nd Battalion when he first reported the systematic abuse of prisoners by fellow soldiers. It took nearly a year and a half before someone finally listened.

His letter in 2005 to top aides for Senators John Warner and John McCain would result in the Senate passing the Detainee Treatment Act, and later in the year he was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. But while he constantly strived to give back, the ghosts of his past proved unrelenting.

“We know the community supported Ian through his recent difficult times,” the Fishback family said in a statement. “He faced many challenges, and many of us felt helpless. We tried to get him the help he needed. It appears the system failed him utterly and tragically.”

The saddest of truths is that Major. Ian Fishback gave the world so much more than it ever gave him in return. He was forty-two years old.

NASA ready to launch DART planetary defense demonstration mission - SpaceNews

Remember in the late ’90’s when Hollywood made an asteroid of itself with movies that predicted the next big bang in the form of a cosmic rolling stone crashing into our shiny blue marble and how humanity had to devise a plan to show them the door? Welp, maybe those storylines weren’t as far fetched as we thought after NASA launched a spacecraft called DART into space on Wednesday . . because, science!

The purpose of this planetary plunge is to see if we might be able to stave off a blockbuster scenario before reaching the final credits by blowing up an asteroid. By early fall of next year, we’ll lower the boom on Dimorphos- a football-field sized asteroid- and see what happens. If all goes well, scientists might be able to use the data to keep a hypothetical scenario from really happening.

As for Bruce Willis, he was unavailable for comment.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers refuted the ridiculous claim that his toe injury was the result of “Covid toe” by baring his foot for all to see during a press conference. And we can be super thankful that it wasn’t being reported that he had “Covid balls” . . .

Ahmaud Arbery trial verdict: All three suspects found guilty

“They almost got away with it,”

That was the general consensus after three men- Travis and Gregory McMichael and William Bryan- were found guilty in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. An all white jury didn’t let these guys off the hook, even though local law enforcement officials almost did two years ago. Because the three were not arrested until a video of the shooting from Bryan’s phone came to light . . . several months later. Let that sink in a moment.

The defense used the argument that the men were simply making a citizen’s arrest of a young man who didn’t belong in the neighborhood, and that the shooting was in self defense. Because it seems that frontier justice is back in fashion.

Thank God it didn’t work this time.

13-Year-Old Adeola Olagbegi Used His ‘Make-A-Wish’ To Feed The Homeless

Monika over at Tails Around the Ranch is coming out of the bullpen to be our Mariano Rivera for this week’s episode, with a story about how thanks met giving in Jackson, Mississippi.

Adeola Olagbegi is only thirteen, but he’s already experienced a lifetime’s worth of adversity. Abraham, as he’s called by friends and family, has a rare blood disorder. After countless rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, Abraham is out of the hospital and ready to take on the world. Or give back to it. How’s about both?

While recovering from his battle with aplastic anemia, he learned that he had qualified for a dream wish from Make-A-Wish Mississippi. He might have wished to meet someone or go somewhere, or be gifted something . . . and let’s just say he went a little bit off script with his request.

You see, Abraham decided he wanted to feed the homeless in his community for an entire year. So be cool LeBron, and maybe some other time Disney World . . the kid’s got his sights set on something much bigger. And once the good peeps at Make-A-Wish got to stepping, “Abraham’s Table” was born. The service will provide free meals to the homeless once a month at Poindexter Park in Jackson, with local business donating the goods.

“My mom always says it’s a blessing to be a blessing, so I just wanted to do something for other people to make it last longer,” Abraham says.

Here’s to the blessings we can count on.

The Rundown

A kitten rests on a student's desk

Say hello to Tarcin (That’s Turkish for Cinnamon). She lives in the garden of a school in Tekirdağ, Turkey and is a regular visitor in the halls and classrooms. And so I have two questions. The first one is simply, how freaking cool is this? And secondly, how comes we don’t see more of this going on here?

Bill Clinton, All Gore celebrate their good fortune - UPI Archives

Can you believe it’s been thirty years since Clinton and Gore ushered in a new age of politics? They were gunslingers with charm and they brought classic rock songs and climate klatschs and town hall meetings with them. I happen to think the mostly successful (and at the time, historic) two-term democratic White House was downright quaint compared to this iteration of Washington. And okay, so the Clintonian Era brought us Hilary . . but how were we to know she would author a political career most aptly titled “Sun Tzu For Dummies”? We were too busy spending all that disposable income, hoping Ross and Rachel would get together and wishing there was some way to capture that crazy lady’s rant in the grocery store to concern ourselves with tomorrow.

Oh well . . Dem’s the breaks

Historic flooding in southern B.C., by the numbers | CBC News

Dale is checking in with a reminder as to the brutal force of Mother Nature, which hit Southern British Columbia this week in the form of an “Atmospheric river”. This narrow band of water vapor from the Pacific Ocean landed on Sunday, resulting in rockslides, mudslides and massive flooding to the province.

To give you an idea as to the force of this weather system, it can carry a greater flux of water than the Amazon River. 18,000 people have been displaced and the death toll is expected to rise in the coming days as the military as well as local agencies continue search and rescue operations.

Our prayers are with you, Canada.

Angels' Shohei Ohtani wins more awards, these from his peers – Orange County Register

Welp, it’s unanimous. Shohei Ohtani is your official American League MVP for 2021, and the two-way player was a breath of fresh air for this baseball fan. As a pitcher he was 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA while hitting .257 with 46 home runs and 26 stolen bases for the California Angels.

Here’s to the Shohei Kid!

Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Closing Arguments: What We Learned - The New York Times

The Rittenhouse trial is a Netflix series waiting to happen. It’s got race and social justice and guns and a dubious judge and courtroom drama, not to mention a seriously convoluted opinion of self defense, seeing as how Kyle Rittenhouse drove to the scene of a crime while armed.

Thing is, no one will challenge the failed leadership on both sides that caused a riot in the first place because they’ll be too busy shouting over each other. There will be the crazies who target him- whether in prison or pumping gas- and there will be the fools who make him the poster boy for a misbegotten movement. And it will never occur to them that their “call to arms” doesn’t prevent a mob, it simply creates its own.

Weekly Miami Dolphins Report: This week only, Butterball turkeys are .79 cents a pound at Milam’s Markets!

Sara Blakely surprised Spanx employees with plane tickets and cash - Upworthy

You hear a lot of shit about bosses, and a lot of it is with good reason. And then there’s Spanx CEO Sara Blakely, who recently gifted her employees first-class plane tickets anywhere in the world and $10,000 in spending money. The gesture was her way of saying thank you after the company was valued at $1.2 billion; a company she started with $5,000 from her savings account. So the next time your boss comes up short of your expectations, give them the Dolly Parton treatment.

Or just send them Blakely’s bio. Either . . or.

A car that had been parked in the same space for forty-seven years has finally been towed, according to an official in the town of Conegliano, Italy. “It was a slow week and we got around to some housekeeping. I’m not gonna lie, it took everything out of me so do you mind if we cut this short? I feel a nap coming on . . .”

Angelo Fregolent is the original owner of the 1962 Lancia Fulvia. After he retired from running the local newsstand, he just decided to leave his car there in the hopes that one day, Steven Spielberg would make a movie about it. “At the time, I had no idea Tom Hanks existed, but I think I would like him to play me in the movie,”

Paul Gosar Censured, Removed from Committees Over Violent Post About Democrats | Politics | US News

House Democrats voted to censure Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar for posting an anime video of him killing Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and attacking Joe Biden. Stripped of his seats on two committees, Gosar found the time to share a new photoshopped anime image on his Instagram page, sans any murderous hilarity. And please don’t compare Gosar’s stunt to Kathy Griffin’s dumbass photo in which she held Trump’s bloody head in her hand. Griffin is a comedienne who lost her comedic fastball long ago, while Gosar is an elected official.

We went full on Hemingway in this week’s episode, huh? I mean, the old man did say the world breaks everyone before too long. And so just when you get to wondering what in the blessed toll of the bells are we supposed to hold onto, along comes a story like this to pull you back.

Ryan Benton is a firefighter in Billings, Montana who doesn’t just do a job every day. This guy writes a chapter of his best self inside every shift, because like every uniform who stands in harms way, he understands the risks involved. And when you own that kind of perspective, great things come of it.

So it was that Benton’s team had responded to a two-vehicle accident, and that’s when he came across a little girl from one of the vehicles. She was shaken up and scared and he could see from her little eyes that the great big world was getting ready to do a number on her. So while his crew and her parents busied themselves with tow trucks and police reports, Benton pulled a book out of his truck and sat down with her to read.

And there, right in the middle of a forgettable night, it was raining the kind of sunshine that pushes back at the idea that this world is screwed beyond redemption. Because there was a curb in Billings Montana where the rest of Hemingway’s thoughts on the world were on full view.

. . . and afterward many are strong at the broken places. 

 

The Rundown

NYC Marathon 2021: Albert Korir takes men's race, Peres Jepchirchir wins women's race - ABC7 New York

One of the very best days of a New York City year happened again last Sunday with the 50th running of the New York City Marathon. Like most fans, I was really bummed that we lost this event to the pandemic last year, and as if we needed a reminder, this year’s race was limited to 33,000 runners for the very same reason.

As for the particulars, Albert Korir nabbed the top spot for the men’s side while Peres Jepchirchir placed first among the women. Marcel Hug won the prize in wheelchair and Roderick Sewell II won handcycle.

If you didn’t get a chance to tune in, do yourself a favor and check some of it out on YouTube. You’ll get the panoramic city tour AND a sporting event.

That’s called value added.

Henry Ruggs III crash victim was 'just about to get' her US citizenship

The Henry Ruggs saga is indicative of a different kind of privilege: The one afforded millionaire athletes who flout rules and laws out of a misbegotten sense of entitlement. Listen, there are plenty of non-athletes who are young and rich who behave just as recklessly as Ruggs did last week when he rammed into a Toyota Rav while doing 156 mph on a residential street. The difference is, athletes are gifted a podium, and so, before 23 year-old Tina Tintor was even laid to rest, other athletes such as Kadarius Toney were tweeting all manner of incivility about how Ruggs was a victim too. No, he was not. He was well aware of the repercussions of his actions long before he got behind the wheel of his Corvette. And unlike the majority of the population, Ruggs was afforded round the clock chauffeur service as per the league CBA that grants it to all members. He chose instead to drive as if he was attempting to qualify for the Indy 500, with a loaded gun in his vehicle. So spare me the narrative that Ruggs kept his nose out of trouble when it’s tragically obvious he just hadn’t met up with it yet.

For the past 26 years, Take-a-Kid-Fishing Day has brought the local community together.

Eddie Morgan is a fisherman who tells the kind of tales you can really believe in. Morgan is the owner of Harbor Docks- a marina and seafood restaurant which has become a Destin, Florida institution. And while that reputation was earned with superb fare and excellent service, it’s what the family business does for the community at large that has made them larger than the biggest fish known to Hemingway.

27 years ago, Eddie’s father started something called “Take-A-Kid-Fishing Day” in which hundreds of local children between the ages of 7-13 were taken on a fishing trip on the first weekend of November. And all this time later, the tradition has continued. They head out bright and early to a fishing hole dubbed “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” aboard 50 charter boats, and then they get to casting.

“The fishing industry is what makes our area so special. And people growing up in our area should know what that is and appreciate it,” Morgan says. “A lot of these kids have never been fishing before. So if they go, they go fishing and they love it. And we give them a fishing rod when they leave so they can do it on their own.”

Now that’s a nice catch.

My favorite quote of the week comes from Falcon’s Swiss Army Knife Cordarelle Paterson who was asked why he plays so many positions. “If my mom could go out there and work three jobs, I can go out there and play three positions,”.

9 Year Old Saves Halloween For Neighborhood Kids | WCOS | The Morning Rush

Dylan Suiter of Vandalia, Ohio has a sweet bead on all things philanthropy, like . . for reals. Whilst out trick or treating last weekend, Suiter came upon a house with (Egads!) an empty candy bowl on the front porch. But for this quick thinking kid, that was no thing. He just donated some candy from his own bag so that his compadres wouldn’t be going without.

The random act of sweetness went viral and now Dylan is getting noticed by a ton of peeps, including Ryan Reynolds; the star of “Free Guy”, because yes, that’s who Dylan’s costume was based on. So he’s got the neighborhood vote, he’s got the Tik Tok Army, he’s even got some Hollywood love being thrown his way . . and don’t forget the American Dental Association.

Can we lower the minimum age for President?

A makeshift memorial outside NRG Stadium.

The tragedy that took place at NRG Park in Houston this week fits the description of insanity to a frightful degree. Because Travis Scott, the rapper who headlined the evening’s festivities, is known for stirring up trouble at the venues he plays. And Astroworld was no different, as officials reported fights and unruly behavior throughout the afternoon and evening.

When Scott took the stage at a little after 9 p.m., things began taking a turn for the worse as concert goers began rushing closer to the stage. A stampede of human carnage ensued, during which time the concert continued. So as human beings were being crushed, the music still played. And this morning we’re looking at nine casualties and myriad questions. The one thing we know for certain is that a tragedy could have been prevented.

The other thing we know for certain is that it wasn’t.

Micro-Review of “The Harder They Fall”- Imagine Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee had a baby. A quick-draw action packed two hours worth of Yee! Meeting Haw! 

Curtis baby premature

Last week we celebrated Margaret Dilullo’s 107 years and today we celebrate 16 month old Curtis Means making a different kind of history. This handsome young man set the Guinness world record for being the most premature infant to survive when he was born 19 weeks before his due date. Sadly, his twin-sister C’Asya did not make it. But Curtis somehow pulled through with a weight of 14.8 ounces at birth.

In case you were wondering, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban has already put in a call.

And Imma wrap up today’s episode with a heartfelt thank you to veterans everywhere. Veteran’s Day was yesterday and as per usual, I took a moment to thank my pal, Big Papi, for his service. It’s the only time the two of us are ever really serious about anything, but hey, it still counts.

And it always will.

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

The Olympics, Jesse Owens, The Munich Massacre, & Hitler

With the Olympic games officially in the rearview, it’s back to the regular grind of good meeting better for this Friday the 13th episode. And as per usual, there is plenty of both to fill us up for our ride into the weekend. This week’s roster was a convergence of sadness and hope, heaven and . . . Kevin Costner? . . well, sort of.

The image above commemorates the 85th anniversary of Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic games in Nazi Germany. With Adolf Hitler looking on, the track and field legend stood tall in the face of evil. Many credit Owens with delivering a blow to the myth of Aryan supremacy. Michael Wilbon opined that the further away from this defining moment we get, the fewer people remember how very important it was. We can’t accept such a fate as that, we just can’t.

Let’s get to Friday . . .

Modern Family' star Julie Bowen helps save NJ woman on hike

Many of you (yours truly) may know Julie Bowen as the hot mama from the long running show Modern Family. Welp, she made news recently after coming to the aid of a hiker along Utah’s Arches National Park trail. The hiker, Minnie John, had started feeling dizzy as she set off with her husband and son, so she told them to carry on without her. As bad luck would have it, she lost consciousness once they were out of sight, falling to the ground and bashing her nose.

As very good luck would have it, that’s when Bowen and her sister Annie- a doctor- happened along.

“All I remember is sitting there with my head in my hands secure on the rock. Next thing I hear someone with a familiar voice kept asking me questions. I wondered if I might be watching TV,” she wrote. “My eyes were closed and they said I will be fine and they were cleaning my face and bandaging me up. I heard that familiar voice saying I am going to be okay, a doctor is cleaning me up.”

Score another one for mom.

What Yankees thought about 'Field of Dreams' atmosphere

Thank you to the MLB for having a clue about something. The sport that has effectively been stripping its unique patina from the former national pastime in favor of progress (translation: greed) went back to class last night. Across nine innings, the sport returned to its golden age as the Yankees and White Sox played a game in the cornfields of Iowa. The “Field Of Dreams” game in Dyersville, Iowa- near the site of the iconic motion picture of the same name- became the first MLB game ever played in the state.

It began with Kevin Costner walking out of the cornfields to get the festivities started and it ended with Tim Anderson of the White Sox smashing a two-run homer off Zack Britton to win it 8-7. In between, it was an old fashioned slugfest with a hand operated scoreboard and throwback uniforms and an idea whose time has finally come. After seeing the enthusiastic reception, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the game will return to the site. So basically, they built it . . and they will come back.

I’m not sure if it was heaven, but I’m thinking W.P. Kinsella was keeping score from above.

To paraphrase the great William Butler Yeats . . there are no strangers here, only a group of individuals who haven’t saved your life just yet. Which is what happened when a woman’s car plunged off the Eau Gallie causeway and into the Indian River in Melbourne, Florida in the early morning hours of July 21st.

Upon witnessing the car lose control, flipping upside down into the water, a couple pulled to the side and gave chase on foot. While the woman called police, the man jumped in the water and kept the driver’s head above water best he could until officer Peter Dolci arrived. After extricating her from the vehicle, the couple, along with officers Dolci and Luke Drummer administered CPR. Check out the police bodycam footage above, because it speaks to how precious every human life truly is; and how hard people, even complete strangers, will fight to keep that light from being extinguished.

Waitress in Tears After Receiving Thank You Note From Widow Eating Alone

Kindnesses are like wildflowers. They color our world while reminding us that beauty is everywhere if we just stop to take a breath and drink it in. Such was the case for Megan King- a waitress at Perkins- who took a few minutes out of her busy day to talk with an elderly woman who was dining alone.

“She [the customer who left the note] came in about halfway through my 17-hour shift, and it was on Sunday, which is always pretty busy,” said King. “About halfway through her meal, it started to slow down so we chatted for a few minutes. Small talk, nothing too deep. She told me she was almost 70 and has been slowing down a bit,”

Once the woman had left, King retrieved the check and her tip, beside which was a handwritten note which read as follows . . .

Thank you very much for your kind service. This was the first time eating out alone since my husband passed. I was hoping I could get through it.

Needless to say, Megan needed a minute. She excused herself from the floor and she did what any of us would have done in the same situation. She cried, hard. And after taking a few deep breaths, the great big world outside was feeling more like a hug than a hot mess. Because the greatest thing about being kind?

You get it back.

Martha Tucker, 94, trying on a wedding dress for the first time.

Martha Tucker was twenty four years old when she met a man who made her feel as if she was dancing on the moon. To be young and in love would seem to be a gift sent from the stars above, excepting for the fact she was a black woman living in the deep south at the time.

In 1952 America, like most black people, Martha found herself on the outside looking in. She married Lehman Tucker in Birmingham Alabama, without ever stepping foot into a bridal shop as a result of segregation laws.

Martha and Lehman Tucker after they were married.

“During that time, we couldn’t just walk in those stores,” She says. “I tried not to think about buying a wedding dress because I knew I wouldn’t even be allowed inside. I was very upset about it, but it’s not like there was anything I could do.”

A dream denied, but never forgotten. It was that dream that came back to life recently as Martha was watching the wedding scene from the 1988 movie Coming to America with her granddaughter Angela Strozier. She confided that it had always been her dream, to be able to try on a wedding dress.

“I never thought of my grandma’s dream of wearing a wedding dress because I didn’t even know it was a dream they were denied,” Angela said. “Women like my grandmother sacrificed so much for us to have the liberties we have now. For someone to be denied the simple opportunity of purchasing a dress of her choice really shone a light on the reality of our history,”

Martha Tucker being fitted into her gown, veil and garter belt.

On July 3rd, the ladies went to brunch before heading over to David’s Bridal in Hoover, Alabama. That’s where Martha Tucker turned back time, sixty-nine years worth of time, when she donned a V-neck gown with embroidered sheer sleeves and sequins throughout. And then she walked down the hallway, imagining Lehman by her side even though she lost him to a heart attack in 1975.

For a moment in time, this moment, she was that twenty-four year old girl holding forever in her arms. “I wish he was here to see me in the dress. When I got married, I promised myself I would wear a wedding dress one day, and at least I finally did.”

Love always wins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZRn4auk4PQ

Clowns To The Left Of Us, Danger To The Right

Is it possible to have too much information at your fingertips?

The question came to me as I was watching two sports analysts go at it on a debate show recently. The topic of conversation had to do with the best NBA player of all time. This isn’t something the vast majority of the population gives a flying Wallenda about, to be honest. But these guys deliberated until they had created a dually believable narrative, whittling it into a potent mash. Of course, well enough wasn’t left alone for very long, and as often happens inside this time of nonsense and instability, the shit went south. Further south than a Lynyrd Skynyrd Key West tour.

The succinct nature of their respective points soon gave way to a volatility whose pitch was a bitch, on wheels. And so the evaporative nature of modern discourse held sway until I stopped trying to figure out whose opinion was most valid and started wondering who was going to break out a “Yo mama!” first.

Of course, I recognize that information doesn’t fool people . . people fool people. But armed with enough information, anyone with half a brain can paint their argument into Van Gogh. And half the room will toast the bold and dramatic brushstrokes while the other half of the room reaches for a carving knife with which to cut off their ears.

The touchstone, regrettably, has been bastardized. As if Rob Zombie got hold of the Constitution and turned our fundamental principles into a kill count. Educated opinions have given way to a zealotry that seeks to deify even the most corrupt of men. Meaningful dialogue has been relegated to the ash heap thanks to dissociative politics that attempts to guilt us into confessing to crimes we didn’t commit.

What good is having all this information at our fingertips if we’re going to dis- it and mis- it into an interpretation?

During this sports debate, as the decibel levels increased, so to, did the tells; those easy to miss points of entry that had been glossed over initially were now much easier to hear. Both sides, using their information not as a map, but as a boxing glove with which to punch out their opponent. Much the same way a peaceful transfer of power might stage a coup, or a state might flout the concerns of a pandemic, or a city council might consider me the enemy because I’m an aging white dude.

I don’t know how we can possibly achieve a middle ground, because to quote Buffalo Springfield, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. And I have not a blessed answer residing under my cap, except for one.

Michael Jordan . . . duh.

 

 

 

Olympic Heroes Of The Week!

Simone Biles wins bronze medal on balance beam at the Olympics

Of course the lovely Simone Biles is gonna score my billboard capture in this week’s special Olympic edition. Because she just won the best damn bronze medal in the history of ever. After removing herself from the final three events in the women’s all-around last week, her team held on for a silver medal while this young lady held onto her mental well being. It was a win merging with an even bigger win. And it was made all the more beautiful when Simone was the first American to congratulate Russian gymnast Angelina Melnikova after her team won the gold.

And then this week happened and Simone came back. She competed in the balance beam and while she wasn’t quite her championship self, she was plenty good enough to gain the podium yet again. And I have to think this bronze medal is going to mean every bit as much as all the other medals she has earned in her career. Because this one is representative of her every day struggle, where winning and losing take a backseat to peace of mind.

“I was just happy to be able to perform regardless of the outcome,” Biles said. “I did it for me and I was proud of myself for being able to compete one more time.”

The result was worth its weight in gold.

It is the true spirit' - Olympics athletics gold shared for the first time in 113 years

What’s the only thing better than a gold medal at the Olympics? How about two gold medals? That is how it went down when Mutaz Essa Barshim of Quatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy ended up tied in the men’s high jump finals after four jumps each. An Olympic official informed them they had two choices: They could take part in a jump-off, or they could share the gold. Moments later, Tamberi was jumping into the arms of his friend and rival when Barshim decided on the latter.

Barshim explained it this way. “He is one of my best friends, not only on the track, but outside the track. We work together. This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message,”

A cynic might scoff at the idea that the medal wasn’t settled on the field, but I really can’t blame the guys for choosing to share gold after watching the sheer joy on their faces. Let’s face it, they did something most athletes can only dream about.

They won a tie.

Belarus' Krystsina Tsimanouskaya 'won't return' home after Olympics

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus has a story that puts everything in perspective. In her homeland, opposition leaders disappear and dissidents are threatened with assassination. Freedom of speech doesn’t stand a chance in a country that will silence anyone who speaks out about the government’s business in general, or president Alexander Lukashenko in particular. And it is in this vein that Tsimanouskaya found herself in the crosshairs of a “higher up”. And while I’m not saying this individual was the guy currently serving a sixth-term as President, I ain’t saying it isn’t.

The trouble began after the sprinter complained on Instagram that she had been forced to run the 4×400 relay by team officials, even though she had never competed in it before. She was subsequently banned by the team from participating in the 200 meters; a decision she tried to fight legally, but lost.

Tsimanouskaya was then told she needed to take the next flight home, where she would face “punishment” for her outspoken behavior. Thankfully she was intercepted and taken to the Polish embassy in Japan, after which she was flown to Vienna. Upon hearing the news, her husband travelled to Ukraine and hopes to be reunited with her soon. This ordeal has changed Krystsina’s definition of ‘home’.

Now, it’s wherever she can be reacquainted with her family.

Heading into Tokyo, American Lily King was the prohibitive favorite to defend her title as queen of the breaststroke; the defending Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion hadn’t lost the event since 2015.

But that’s why they play the games. Because South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker had something else in mind. And if breaking the world record (held by King) wasn’t an expectation, guess what? It happened. As a result, Schoenmaker is bringing home South Africa’s first gold medal in a quarter century.

But the reason this story makes it to Friday is because of what happened next. If you want the cheat code on this video, fast-forward to 2:42 when she touches the wall, followed by King. And then a group hug that reminds us why we watch the games, and why we love them so.

Tokyo Olympics: U.S. Runner Helps Competitor to Finish Line After Fall | PEOPLE.com

Imagine being thisclose to realizing a life long dream, and then in the next moment, it’s gone just like that.

Isaiah Jewett doesn’t have to imagine this scenario, seeing as how he experienced it in the men’s 800 meters. As the runners were kicking up their heels for one final push around the curb, Jewett could feel it. He had a top two run within his reach, which was going to put him in the finals. And then Botswana’s Nijel Amos clipped him from behind and the two men were collapsing to the ground, taking that Olympic dream with them.

“I just felt like when I was starting to lift, somebody hit the back of my heel and that caused me to fall,” Jewett said. “It was devastating. I’m not going to lie.”

Out of this stunning loss came something you can’t practice. When Jewett got to his feet, he helped his opponent up and then the two men embraced as Amos offered his apologies before they set off once again, buoyed by a spirit that defines what these games truly mean. Because while winning and losing belong to the headlines temporarily, sportsmanship has keep. When they arrived at the finish line, Amos yielded so that Jewett could finish ahead of him.

It was the kind of moment not even a podium could top.

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Imma start the weekend off with the story of a realtor named Linda Brown from Springfield, Missouri whose hobby is making a positive difference in the lives of others. Years back, Linda and her husband organized a nightly drop-in shelter for the city’s homeless; it was a place where they could eat, shower and do laundry, among other things. Of course, peeps like Linda always want more . . to do more . . for others.

That need turned into Eden Village, a village of tiny homes that provide permanent housing to the chronically disabled homeless. After raising almost $5 million in 2018, the Browns built this wonderful place on the grounds of an abandoned mobile home property.

Jonathan Fisher is one of the tenants at Eden Village. He battled substance abuse and lived on the streets for two years before meeting Linda Brown and her husband. He looks back on it as the day that changed his life. He’s clean and sober now, and he’s working full-time doing construction and maintenance on the thirty-one homes in the village.

“In the worst moments of my life, Linda gave me guidance, care and made me feel like I was still worth something.” Fisher says. “She helped me to build a better life . . . even when I was struggling with homelessness and sobriety, she showed me I was valuable and that my potential shouldn’t be wasted. She made me feel like I belonged somewhere,”

As far as hobbies go, Linda Brown is killing it.

Fleury staying with Golden Knights after Lehner signs five-year contract

The Vegas Golden Knights played the role of bush league bozos this week after they traded Marc Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks. They’re not getting a failing grade for trading their netminder, but for how it went down. The goalie who led them to the Stanley Cup finals a couple years ago found out about the trade on Twitter. Lame, Vegas . . . very lame. Of course, since my Chicago Blackhawks are the lucky recipients of a Stanley Cup caliber goalie as a result, I’m grateful that what plays in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.

Russia shocks U.S. for gymnastics gold after Simone Biles withdraws - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Dear Simone,

You did the right thing, even if there are some who would have us believe you let your team down when you withdrew from the finals. Telling the truth is never defeat, and you proved as much this week. For those who believe differently, I’d like to ask them if they would forego pain medication if they popped their kneecap or pulled a hamstring. Because it’s painfully obvious they don’t believe the brain needs the very same attention as other parts of our body.

All I know is, you’re a champion in every conceivable definition of the word. But as far as I’m concerned, the conversation about Simone Biles begins with all those medals you’ve earned in your young life, but it doesn’t end there. Not even close. Because you are so much more than an Olympic gold medal winner and a World Champion. You are so much more. And you just proved it.

We love you

Truffles the kitty.

When Danielle Crull found a stray kitten meandering through the woods almost four years ago, she had no idea the impact this little lady would have. All this time later, the optician and owner of A Child’s Eyes in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania is well aware of the gift she received in that forest. Because Truffles has become so much more than a favorite child to Danielle; she has also become a valued partner.

Truffles comes to work with her cat mama every day, complete with a loving personality and a cool pair of specs. She has more than twenty pairs, but if you asked her to decide, she’d go with the green ones (pictured above).

“She is literally magical with little kids,” Crull says. “It takes me at least half an hour to try and get to know them so they realize I’m not something to be afraid of, and Truffles will come strutting out from the back as if she knows exactly when I need her help.”

These two are purrfect for each other.

Airport pianist Tonee Valentine gets $60,000 in tips after Instagram influencer Carlos Whittaker records him playing - The Washington Post

There’s a theme we’ve been surfing on at Heroes for the past several weeks. It involves chance meetings, and the contagious spirit borne inside these simple twists of fate. In a world where most of the news deals in strikeouts, it’s nice to read about life serving up a home run ball.

Tonee “Valentine” Carter is a pianist whose fingertips will take you on a ride the likes of which Jeff Bezos can only dream about. He does his thing in Concourse A of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, performing for an international audience for tip money.

A professional musician, Carter knew what his life was going to look like when he was all of six-years old and his father brought him to see the great Ray Charles. He has played in bands and worked on cruise ships, traveling the world and sharing his gift with every corner of it. In 2008, he was diagnosed with severe kidney disease and had to put his traveling shoes on the shelf. Since then he’s been playing the lights out in A-Town, with a tip jar riding his piano for passersby who dig on the vibe he supplies.

Carlos Whittaker says he likes to use his social media following to help other people.

Carlos Whitaker is a motivational speaker who was having the kind of moment that tests his expertise. His speaking engagement had been canceled and he was waiting on his flight back home when Tonee Carter’s music changed the day he was walking through. When Whitaker noticed there was no money in the tip jar, an idea came to him.

He took to Instagram with a couple of videos of Carter doing his thing and then he asked his “Instafamilia” to help give the pianist the biggest tip he’d ever gotten. Within thirty-minutes, $10,000 had been raised and before all was said and done, that biggest tip ever had grown to $61,000.

The good will shown to him left Carter humbled and in tears. After which he said the first thing he was going to do was get an oil change, because . . priorities. And after that? Well, since he claims the money is “not mine”, he’s going to spread the love by paying it forward. By giving, as good as he got.

Atlanta airport pianist earns $83,000 in tips after video shared to Instagram

I have to believe this story is further evidence that humankind’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. It is a sweet counter to all the news that’s print in fits, a chance meeting that lets us know we don’t have to let the purveyors of a skull and cross bones mythology write our epitaph.

Because in between all this living and breathing, we also love and laugh and celebrate and inspire . . . and give. Ours is a currency that will never go out of circulation, ours is a mindset that will never prove obsolete, ours is a spirit that will come for the music.

It will stay for the song.

Heroes Of The Week!

Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. opened dugout to protect fans | Yardbarker

In this week’s “Four Letter Beasts and Where to Find Them”, I mentioned the heroic exploits of the San Diego Padres. And here’s why. Because when all manner of really bad shit was going down outside Nationals Park in Washington D.C., which resulted in three people being shot, the visiting team was making certain that every fan inside the stadium would make it home.

One minute, the details of a baseball game were all that mattered and the next, people were running for their lives. So Padres stars Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis led them into the visitors dugout, where they would find shelter from an attack.

“The situation changed immediately,” Tatis told reporters. “There’s no longer players, fans. Everybody’s just people, just human beings out there.”

Padres manager Jayce Tingler says he couldn’t be any more proud of his guys, and with good reason. Because while it’s really easy to whittle these athletes down until they achieve the dimension of a baseball card, humanity still counts most of all. And in the darkest of moments, they weren’t playing a baseball game thousands of miles from home.

They were home.

As with many great ideas, when Finnish and Norwegian artists Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth collaborated on a conceptual photography project, they had no blessed clue as to the path it would lead them on. Titled “Eyes as Big as Plates”, it was to be an intepretation of traditional Nordic folklore.

What had begun as a way of fleshing out regional mythology soon turned into something much bolder and far reaching than that. To quote the American philosopher Yogi Berra, when they hit the fork in the road, they took it.

The project is going on ten years now, and it has taken the artists from the United States to Japan, and all points in between. They work with seniors- farmers, artists, plumbers, academics, opera singers, housewives and zoologists-, “dressing” them as sculptural elements of nature. They work with the elderly in order to show us how our cultures have pushed them aside, to our detriment.

It is an immersive exploration that merges fantasy with reality, creating magical translations in the landscapes. The intent is to highlight how vital our living histories are to future generations, and that we shouldn’t dismiss the lessons we can learn. And the fact that they transform the earth into a rendering whose celebration is knee-high to a grasshopper’s moon walk? That’s just bonus round.

Giannis Antetokounmpo wins NBA Finals MVP, dubbed 'new king of the NBA' | Fox News

All this talk about heart and home ain’t gonna be complete until I give a shout out to the Milwaukee Bucks and the other worldly Giannis Antetokounmpo. Their Game 6 win on Tuesday night over the Phoenix Suns clinched the city’s first NBA title in fifty years. It also vindicated a decision Giannis made last year when he re-signed with the team that drafted him. In an age where superstars go ring chasing from one zip code to the next, Giannis declared his loyalty to the team that believed in him from the get, and it paid off in the dream scenario. And so while this Miami Heat fan will always wonder what the big guy would’ve looked like on South Beach, I gotta admit, this story is better. Good for him.

Cyclist donates kidney to complete stranger

Have you heard the one about two guys walking into a bar? Complete strangers, these two, the one guy confides that he’s on dialysis ten hours a night after he went into kidney failure. And get this, the guy he confides in? Offers him a kidney.

Thing is, this isn’t a joke . . it actually happened when Mark Scotch, 64, paid a visit to Natchitoches, Louisiana. That’s where he crossed paths with Hugh Smith, 56, and learned of Smith’s plight. And yes, Scotch let this total stranger know he was all in. But that wasn’t that because after the two men were tested, it turned out they were only a thirty percent match.

Tell you what, happy endings ain’t easy. But as these two would prove, they’re worth chasing, and so the question became, how did Scotch plan on seeing this good deed through? Well, by paying it forward, of course. And so he decided he would donate his kidney to a stranger . . another stranger. Through something called the “Voucher Donor” program, this moved Hugh to the top of the transplant waiting list. And this past February, he got his new kidney. To celebrate, Mark just completed a 1,500 mile bike ride from his home in Madison, Wisconsin to Louisiana in what he dubbed “The Organ Trail”. And at the end of that ride, those same two guys met up in that same bar.

And get this, they’re the best of friends now.

WATCH NOW: Getting brighter - Blood drive held in honor of Columbus girl  battling leukemia | Local | columbustelegram.com

I struggled with this last story, mightily. Because it’s incredibly heart wrenching to read about a six-year old girl who is in the fight of her life, and then you find yourself scrolling through images and you’re crying without even knowing it. But of course you are, because it doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. And so you keep reading, because you have to connect with those smiles . . you have to understand the hope they carry with them, and why.

Violet Jackson is six-years old and she has the kind of smile that could talk the sun into working overtime. Just last month she was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She has been undergoing treatments at Omaha’s Children’s Hospital, where she receives blood and platelets to feed her body since the chemotherapy stunts her blood cell production.

Her sister needed blood and platelet donations to survive. It inspired this  teen to launch a blood drive - CBS News

“I was thankful the blood was available for Violet when she needed it,” said Violet’s mother, Wendy. “And I wanted to pay that gift forward, so I scheduled my blood donation.”

This inspired Violet’s sister Eden to organize a blood drive, and the timing couldn’t have been more vital, seeing as how blood banks across the country have been running on empty since the pandemic. It wasn’t long before big sister had reached goal .  and then kept right on going.

WATCH NOW: Getting brighter - Blood drive held in honor of Columbus girl  battling leukemia | Local | columbustelegram.com

When you come to the end of the story, you pray there is a new beginning and that all those smiles will have been prelude to a dinner table in the distant future; all those same faces, having written chapters of a book that just keeps getting better with time. Their smiles the only evidence of the fight they once shared. Their lives a passage from the long ago pen of Dylan Thomas, come to life once more.

They caught and sang the sun in flight. 

Heroes Of The Week!

Non-Muslims Love Burkinis, But Why? | The Muslim Skeptic

It’s almost the weekend, and with temps soaring across the country, we’re going to take it nice and easy this week. I was going to title this episode as the “Big Chill Edition” but I was afraid it would be mistaken for an ’80’s Movie Trivia post. Which, believe it or not, is not my wheelhouse. Nice and easy? Is.

Let’s get to our lineup . . . .

We storm out of the gates this Friday morning with a story dialed up by the lovely Dale. It’s about a Buddhist daughter and the mother who taught her the most important lesson of all; the one that teaches us how the act of giving replenishes the soul.

It happened when these two decided to sell Joanna Lavelle’s mobility scooter since the ninety-year old mom is homebound these days. And so it was that she got into a conversation with an elderly gentleman who just so happened to be in the market for, you guessed it . . a mobility scooter.

Lavelle just so happens to be a lousy saleswoman, because when she had a chance to close the deal, she let him off the hook . . by giving it to him. Free of charge. Because sometimes the oldest lessons really are the best ones. And this was one . . with everything.

MLB All-Star Game Uniforms Not Drawing All-Star Reviews – NBC Chicago

In honor of the 91st MLB All-Star Game, Imma dish up a traditional double-header of a Yea and a Not So Much. I’ll begin with the latter, which came in the form of those putrid All-Star uniforms that resembled something out of a beer league softball game. Players and fans were in agreement that the uniforms were a bad idea. The sport’s mid-summer classic has long been revered for allowing its players to wear their own uniforms, which creates a beautiful mosaic of unique threads. So of course the MLB, once again, had to play like the other leagues rather than embrace what makes it different from all the rest. How lame.

Live coverage of Shohei Ohtani at the MLB all-star game - Los Angeles Times

Thank the baseball Gods for Shohei Ohtani, who made history by becoming the first All-Star to be tabbed as both a starting pitcher and a position player in the same game. While he went hitless as the American League’s leadoff hitter, he did get the win by tossing a perfect first inning. And big props to AL skipper Kevin Cash (I can’t believe I’m giving props to the Rays here) for understanding the moment and giving Shohei the starting nod.

Amy Polly, Gloria Settelmayer and Amanda Greenberg grew up in the same small town of Goshen Township, Ohio. As the years went by, their relationship grew. In 2017, Polly volunteered to be a surrogate for Settelmayer after Settelmayer had trouble carrying a viable pregnancy. Recently, Greenberg volunteered to do just the same.

Cincy “Beach Walks” Angle makes it back to Friday with a story about family and friends, and how Gloria Settelmayer of Goshen Township, Ohio has merged the two in a very special way. Four years ago, her sister-in-law Peggy made the decision to be her surrogate when it had become painfully clear that Gloria would not be able to have another child. It was a selfless act that is being repeated, this time with her friend Amanda Greenberg. While Gloria and her husband were discussing what to do with their frozen embryos, Amanda made the decision easy.

“You know I’ll carry a baby for you, right?” Greenberg said.

Just like that. Because when people think beyond the constraints of their own little universe, whole new worlds are born. Just ask Gloria Settelmayer. She knows.

We put a bow on this puppy with a love story about a man and his dog. (With yet another HT to Dale for the get).

Brayden Morton from British, Columbia would do anything for his Shar-Pei named Darla, and he proved it recently when she was taken from their home. The frantic dog papa was on social media within minutes, sharing the details of this dognapping, which was shared more than 30,000 times. He also posted a $5,000 reward.

And then he received a call that changed everything. The woman was crying and panicked and it didn’t take long for Brayden to realize she had taken Darla. He reassured her that all he wanted was the safe return of his dog, and so they met up in a parking lot where Brayden was re-united with Darla. She confessed that she had stolen her with a friend in order to collect the reward money to buy drugs.

Morton is a recovering addict who has been clean and sober since May of 2015, so rather than anger, he brought understanding. He offered to pay for her rehab treatment. And while that outcome is still being worked out, there’s even more to this story.

When he met with a tipster who had given him information on another suspect, he learned that the man was homeless. So Brayden paid for a week’s stay at a hotel and when he posted about it on social media, the homeless man was gifted another week’s stay at that hotel, and a job to boot.

You wouldn’t blame Morton for being bitter, but it doesn’t matter because he’s not. He chose hugs over hate, and in a world where it seems as if we have an overabundance of the latter, how can you not love that?

“I would say honestly, more than anything… it was exactly what I needed in my life at that point in time. Those people helped me immensely. [They] really warmed my heart and humbled me,” Morton said. “I’m just as grateful for those two relationships that I made in this whole ordeal and I’m happy that I was able to meet [them].”

When you slow the world down, the lessons are everywhere.

We Have Met The Enemy, And Guess What? . . .

USA Basketball

Time was, it wasn’t so easy to find a professional athlete in the Olympics if you resided on this side of the continent. And call me naïve but I happen to think it was a kitschy involvement worthy of a look.

This was before the cache of commercialism made everybody famous, well ahead of their respective medal quests. Amateurism hadn’t become the longest four letter word in the dictionary just yet. I know, it’s hard to imagine an America where humility and patience were woven into our stuck up blue jeans, but trust me . . there was a time when this country actually had some charm to it.

And then the International Federation opened the floodgates in 1986 when they announced that professional athletes would be permitted in Olympic competition. Of course, the logistical hurdles meant that many countries- including us- were slow to the get. Until our national pride took a hit on the hardwood in the ’88 Summer Games when the Soviets delivered a big fat nyet to our college kids, forcing USA Basketball to (gasp!) settle for bronze.

This turn of events led to the brand serpent known as the “Dream Team”, which featured the greatest collection of basketball talent in the history of ever. It was a roster that began with Magic, Bird and Jordan and just kept on going from there. So basically, the ’92 Summer Olympics in Madrid wasn’t a matter of if USA Basketball was going to take back the gold, but by how many points.

And you can call me un-American if you like, but it was joyless.

Listen, I get why it all went down that way. Teams like the Soviets had been using the professional by proxy method forever, so it was only a matter of time before everybody else got to it. But still, there was something magical about our kids going up against the giants of the sport.

It’s why the classic Al Michaels call at the end of USA 4- USSR 3 is etched into the memory of anyone who watched that hockey game in Lake Placid. Because the impossible actually happened when a bunch of college players took down the greatest (professional) team in the world. Replace those kids with NHL players? Herb Brooks ain’t our Olympic Santa Claus . . Kurt Russell ain’t playing him in a movie and that Al Michaels call never happens.

So here we are, all this time later, playing the role of the Soviets. On hardwood. Because that’s what it feels like after our basketball Goliaths got beat not once . . but twice inside a single calendar week after having lost only two other times in Olympic competition since forever ago.

Nigeria 90- USA 87

Australia 91- USA 83

Two straight losses for the first time ever. And yes, okay . . it’s exhibition games we’re talking in the leadup to the real spaghetti dinner. Still, our collective shrug was their champagne toast at last call. They are naming boulevards and first born’s after the players on those teams as we speak. And good for them, seriously.

Because while I love me some Association, I also feel like we should have let sleeping dogs lie after ’92. I said it then and I’ll say it now. We should have gone back to kids for the summer games after that. I realize this means leaving money on the table, which ain’t something a professional sports league is going to do. But in retrospect, maybe it was short sighted to believe we HAD to keep rolling out a known brand.

I mean, think about it. Those college kids whose skills proved worthy of an Olympic nod would’ve been cashing their NBA checks soon enough. They were the future brand. We could’ve given them the keys to the car after Madrid and not missed a beat. If we lost . . hey, college kids. When we won, hey, college kids!

But nope, we had to bully that pulpit into submission.

Welp, as ancient Rome would tell you . . mighty? is flighty. And just like those Soviet hockey players from back in the day, our NBA guys have become the victims of their own greatness. Winning gold is the expectation, anything less is bupkis cake. And I didn’t even mention the fact that globalization of the NBA allows for the league’s best to play for their home countries, further destabilizing our slam dunk march to the bacon cheeseburger spot on the podium. Which means that even after beating Argentina, whose star player I think is my age, the Americans hold on the gold is still less certain than a Kardashian love thing.

Am I a socialist for loving that?

 

 

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