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What my musings are all about...

Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.

The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.

The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Luke Walton & 2015/16 Playoffs

Congratulations to Luke Walton, the new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. The son of one of the finest basketball minds in the history of the game, Luke take those inherited genes and do a smashing job for the Lakers. Of course the Warriors will beat the Walton led Lakers in the 2018/19 Western Conference Championship. Sorry, Luke, my good thoughts for you can only go so far.

Is it agonizing watching pro basketball players who can't shoot free-throws, or what? Air-balls by DeAndre Jordan, the spastic shooting form of Mason Plumlee (okay they went in in clutch time) that often propels the ball in such a straight line that were it to continue it's flight beyond rim and backboard might find its way to China. Let's not worry any longer about Howard. The Warriors mercifully put an end to his horrendous performance on the line, not to mention other horrendous parts of his game. How can it be that Howard has not added at least one new skill set to his game since entering the NBA? I'll take into consideration any reasonable answer that includes laziness.

I'm cheering for the Charlotte Hornets because I always wanted to be like Mike. And there's my Bay Area homeboy, Jeremy Lin resurrecting his career. But I do indeed admire Dwayne Wade, and was hoping to see a Miami vs Cav Eastern Finals, Wade defeating the Cavs, in order to satisfy my notion that irony is one of the principals that govern the world.

I'm pulling for the Casey led Toronto Raptors to overcome their prior poor playoff performances, and because I like Canada where my mother lived close to the city of Regina. Beautiful country, lovely people, and a universal health coverage..

San Antonio is my favorite against the Oklahoma Thunder. I'm still pissed how the Thunder owner stole the team away from Seattle. I see where the there's going to be a vote to free up land for a new arena. Go Sonics.  However, I wouldn't be surprised if the Thunder upsets the Spurs. The Thunder is so athletic, if they get a hot streak at just the right time, they could do it. Humm???

The Warriors, of course, are my guys. The Dubs are planning to beat the Blazers with or without Steph. They will. Short sentence, short series.

Coaching possibilities for the Kings. I'm not a huge fan of Mark Jackson, but of all the candidates available, he is the one that I believe can get DeMarcus Cousins under control, and persuade the team to play defense. He has charisma and rep. He's a communicator. As far as his ministerial mind-set, much of which probably is authentic (given a few glitches of hypocrisy), the minister-thing does create a certain kind of authority, that especially young people are drawn to, if not entirely out of belief, then out of tradition.

Nate McMillon would be another strong choice. He has a record of success. But does he have the cajones to stand up to Cousins? None of the other possible candidates do. Messina? Maybe. But why would he come here from San Antonio for a big headache?

I'm still on an old fashioned poems-about-sports kick. You might not consider the following little poem about sports, but think about it some after you read it. Think about the title.

Life in Motion   by Wallace Stevens

In Oklahoma,
Bonnie and Josie,
Dressed in calico,
Danced around a stump.
They cried,
"Ohoyaho,
Ohoo.". . .
Celebrating the marriage 
Of flesh and air.

.





Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Few Cranky Thoughts

It's been voiced and noted by sports writers, talking head, and bloggers that the Warriors need Steph Curry. Well, DUH! And then go on to point out that the team is just another playoff team. Well, DUH! You take Michael Jordan off the Bulls? I'm sure Scotty Pippen would have had a choice response to said comments.

The Warriors lost to The Beard's Rockets because they played poorly, not because Steph Curry was on the bench. If they'd have played the whole game the way they played in the fourth quarter, there would have been no contest. As it was, they should have won. How that ref missed Hardin's push off is beyond me.

In this mornings' Sacramento Bee sports page there was an article in which John Calipari said that Cousin was no problem, no problem at all in One and Done U. Maybe so, but he's been a migraine in for the Kings. Since when must a player have to bond with a coach. A baby must bond with his mother and father. That's it. You play your best. You stay in the best shape you can be. You do not diss your teammates, or yell at your coach in front of an arena of fans. Mike Malone was a fine coach, granted. Was there a true bonding between the two. I doubt it. Would Cousin's bonding with him have lasted a full year? My guess is, no. For the very simply reason that DeMarcus Cousin's is an immature, self-centered young man. He may or may not ever mature.

Has anyone noticed a Ciroc Vodka ad that comes on regularly during NBA playoff games that ask viewers to Live Life Responsibly while showing a bunch of drunks living life irresponsibly?  I'm just asking. In Russia, the birthplace of Vodka, you are considered an alcoholic (piani) if you drink vodka without eating food along with the drink.

I've been on an "Oldies but Goodies" poetry search, and found this lovely, touching poem about a father teaching his daughter how to swim.

First Lesson   By Philip Booth

Lie back, daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you.Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Playoffs and other topics

First of all, let's be clear, if Luke Walton leaves the Warriors to come to the Kings, he should find a good psychiatrist. With this caveat: If the Kings seriously shop DeMarcus Cousins, perhaps, Luke should talk to Vlade, but only under that condition.

 It is my strong belief and I've said it before, the Sacramento Kings will never win with Cousin. Whether another team can convince the big baby he can grow up and be a true pro, well, maybe, and that possibility and the kid's talent should make him marketable. A couple of strong players and a first round draft choice? In today's game, do you really need a low block center.. Oh, you say, but Cousin's can shoot from the outside. Check out his % from the perimeter. Anyway, he doesn't run, he lumbers. The center of the future is Karl-Anthony Townes and centers like him. Besides, the Kings have a mobile post in Willy Cauly-Stein (with a little lefty, righty jump-hook). And Koufas will always be a valuable backup. I'm starting to wander, so I'll drop the Kings and head in another direction.

Watch out for the Miami Heat to upset teams on their way to a final in the Eastern Conference. They've got lots of talent and they're healthy. Wouldn't it be delovely if Wade and the Heat beat the Cavs? King James might have to give up his crown, which, by the way, belongs to the Golden State Warriors, so he'd have to lower himself to the level of a prince. I'm slowly becoming less and less of a James' fan. As you can tell.

My Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets without Steph Curry. Let's assume that nobody was surprised. I do want to point out one thing: as the game progressed and the Warriors played well, the player most often off the bench cheering on his teammates was Stephan Curry. I hesitate to bring this up as there's already so much about Curry's "goodness," that people might begin to start questioning his sincerity. It's human nature and our society as a whole is a cynical one. But, I swear I detect no lack of sincerity, no lack of "teamsmanship," no lack of commitment, and honest fire. Sports fans, we are witnessing something special in Stephan Curry. Baring injury, Curry will reside in the Pantheon of basketball Stars.

Recently I was asked who does Curry remind me of in terms of talent and charisma. I was tempted to say Magic Johnson. But I decided finally that he reminded me of Luke Walton's father, Bill. Whoa! You gotta be kidding me? No I'm not. For one and a half seasons, there was no better basketball player in the history of the game, no one who combined the skill, the smarts, the enthusiasm, the subtlety, the instincts, the spirit and magic. He did something even Steph is not doing. With apologies to Maurice Lucas and Lionel Hollins, he took a team with some very average players and turned them into NBA Champions.  Steph's cast is far more talented than the Trailblazers' group. So was Magic's, Chamberlain's, Russell's, Jordans'. It's the "specialness" I'm talking about.

If Thibodeau takes the Timberwolves job, watch out NBA. Once this team learns to play defense, watch out.

New York needs to get rid of Carmelo. He simply doesn't understand team concept. He will always make the Carmelo decision instead of the team decision. Like Cousins, NY will never win with Melo. 

I was surprised to find this strange little poem about tennis by Gwendolyn Brooks. I think it says a lot about all aging athletes.

Old Tennis Player.   by Gwendolyn Brooks

Refused
To refuse the racket, to mutter No to the net.
He leans to life, conspirs to give and get
Other serving yet.







Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Key is and always has been, DEFENSE

Every player and every coach know what KISS means: Keep It Simple Stupid. The Dubs need to follow this simple advice and focus on their defense. From the beginning of competitive sports, defense, not offense, wins games. It is the spine of the team. I have watched every Warriors game from the start of the season, and even though I've consistently been proud of my old team, these young Warriors, I'm more proud and impressed by them when they play smothering D, which leads to Turnovers, which leads to easy fast break points, which rattles the opposition, which ensures victories.

As an ex player, I know how hard it is at the end of a season, with the standings in place, to get down and dirty on D. It takes lots of will power.

I am confident that the Warriors will muster the will power needed to see them through the last four games and into the playoff to a second NBA title.

Win or Loose: IT WILL BE ALL ABOUT DEFENSE.

My Blog title reads Sports, Literature, and Life. Here's something about American Life: Let's hear it for the Treasury Department for enforcing a law put in place by President Obama and the Democratic Party that blocks American companies from going overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Removing the incentives, the U.S. drug maker Pfizer and its Irish rival Allergan decided to drop their plans to merge. It is my opinion that companies and their corporate boards should be tried for treason if it is proved they moved their companies overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes like every American citizen is required to do. There is no wiggle room here. No rationale. No excuses. IT'S TREASON.

I was looking through a book of sports poem for a baseball or basketball poem and ran across this lovely little quatrain about tennis.

From Adulescentia   by Robert Fitzgerald

Miraculously, through prayer to Saint Anthony,
The lost tennis ball was found in the alders:
That dun, worn, airy to-be-bounced
Treasurable and humble sweller in closets.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Come on, Scottie, come on you guys!

What is all this stuff about the Jordan led Bulls beating the Curry led Warriors? There are a number of teams, of course, that I can think of that would give the Warriors a run for their money. The Russell led Celtics, the Wilt led 76ers, and West led Lakers, the Bird led Celts, The Bad Boys Pistons, Magic led Lakers, Kobe/Shaq Lakers. and certainly your team Scottie led by Michael Jordan. And before you get your shorts in a twist a nod to the Bucks led by rookie Kareem Abdul Jabbar, but only a maybe because who the hell on that team is going to guard Curry and Thompson, not you Oscar. Sorry, not quick enough. Enough said, but the question remains SO WHAT?

So what if there were some amazingly good teams in the past? What is it about these Dubs that brings out this kind of childish jealousy? You never heard Larry Bird says, well, gee, our team could have killed Kobe's Lakers.

We're watching a magnificent professional basketball team doing spectacular things on the court.

We're sitting at a table in a fine restaurant enjoying our meal and along comes someone who says, hey, you're in the wrong restaurant, the Beef Bourguignon in my restaurant is better than your Beef Bourguignon; my Cabernet is tastier than your Cab. Do you see how petty this sounds? Grow up Scottie, Oscar. Oops, I guess you have grown up - as in "old timers."Well, take it from this old timer, you both sound like grumpy old men. Not very appealing.

Go take a nap and some prune juice, boys and let us watch the Dubs in peace having fun on the court shooting deep threes.

Here's another in the series of Haiku I'm writing for Steph Curry.

Steph #15

Hits the second three
   Does the shimmy shimmy
Ko ko bop two step