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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.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Abraham Lincoln

The Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln. What do you think President Lincoln would think of President Trump?

In this morning's Sacramento Bee sports page, Ailene Vosin asked who'd you'd take in a Golden State Warrior's Coach Steve Kerr and a Donald Trump standoff? Kerr, hands down. Kerr would take Trump and Bannon one on two, and beat them into the ground, hands down. Bigots are crap athletes. The KKK and Neo Nazis couldn't field a team in any sports that could compete at any level, kindergarten included.

Hooray for Eric Reid, "won't kneel but won't stop talking." He's right, there is a huge amount of support for Colin Kaepernick in American across every spectrum of our society, except for a small segment of white males over fifty, mostly those who are under-educated, (and some younger white bigots they've brainwashed, Add to this group aging wealthy whites who are  frightened of people of different colors.

Speaking of colors.  Did you happen to see all the different and wonderfully diverse colors competing against each other at the World Track and Field Championship in London. Shades of skin color is the future, Trump and Bannon, take note. Pure white is on it's way out. Pure any color is on it's way out. We will be a bi-racial world not too long in the future. If you have any doubts, you might want to check out television advertising: biracial couples all over the tube selling products. When it comes to the bottom line, the ad biz is always ahead of the curve.

Joe Kapp     by Tom Meschery

For years I've enjoyed telling the story
about Joe Kapp refusing to run out of bounds
in a crucial game after gaining enough yards,
as all quarterbacks are taught to do to save
themselves from injury. Kapp, a Mexican-American,
said to reporters after the win: Only gringos
run out of bounds. I'm thinking of this moment
in sports while driving home having just
hired a Mexican worker to help me finish
my patio. He is a strong looking man
from Vera Cruz with a wife and four children.
He doesn't look at all like Kapp and the years
between Kapp's game and my unfinished patio
are many, so I'm trying to decide why Kapp
came to mind. Something to do with toughness
I decide.Since growing old I've hired
Mexican workers and always been amazed
at how hard they work the most back breaking jobs,
and I think of the Conservatives complaining
about our borders not being strong enough,
and I'm willing to bet those same Republicans
in a crucial game, with angry linebackers
bearing down on them, would run
out of bounds to save their asses, which
I'd love to explain to the worker who tells me
his name is Jimmy, but Jaime in Spanish,
but I don't speak his language well enough. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Adam Silver for President of the United States

Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, banned Donald Sterling, the owner of the LA Clippers for life and fined him 2.5 million for racist remarks, and our President, Donald Trump doesn't even have the courage to name by name the evil hate mongering Neo Nazi and white supremacists who threaten our democracy. Well, Trump has made David Duke, KKK leader very happy. Birds of a feather. No doubt!

Huge news in sports, but not on the front page where it should have been: Allyson Felix tied Usain Bolt for total gold medals won in the Olympics and World Championships. THAT'S HUGE. And guess what, she's going to run in the next Olympics. Can't wait.

I'm agree with Coach Jack Del Rio that it's important to stand for our National Anthem. I like to think of our flag as symbolic of our best ideals, in the hope that they will one day be fully realized for all the people who live within the boundaries of our country. 

So now we have Marshawn Lynch sitting as the National Anthem is played. Del Rio is right to respect Lynch's belief. But what exactly is it? He just said he was being himself. What does that mean? I prefer the courage of Kaepernick, who made it absolutely clear why he was kneeling. And, frankly, I prefer kneeling to sitting. Kneeling is a stance taken while praying. To pray for a more just system of laws is a good idea. Sitting, that's just resting. It carries no symbolic meaning. Sitting is not courageous. Not naming things by name is not courageous. Kap is out of work because the NFL owners are pretty wussy when it comes to courage. Sort of like Donald Trump. 

In honor of Allyson Felix, a track poem about my daughter who was fast for a while.

Middle School Track Meet

            For Janai

My daughter is signed up to run the 100 
and 200 meter dashes. She is fast but not as fast
as the girl warming up next to her. I'm trying
to decide what to say to my daughter
on the drive home about coming in second,
which I often did in sports. And with women
and hated it. My best friend Ned always came in 
first with women, and they found me later,
a shoulder to cry on, which is something
I don't need to tell my daughter, but has,
for reasons best confessed to an analyst,
always rankled me. I could say that being
first doesn't mean you're a better person.
It only means you reached the tape
before the rest of the runners. That effort
is all that counts in life, which I know
to be a lie promulgated by people
who inherited first having never run a race.
This will not comfort my daughter
as she is too young to be interested
in the inequities of society. Crouched
at the starting line, she's waiting for the gun.
She'll give every ounce of her strength,
out of the blocks and down the track.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Just so you understand before I begin what may turn out to be a rant, that as a basketball player I never backed down physically and even threw an elbow or two or three. That said, what's wrong with this picture in the sports pages of the Sacramento Bee?

Headline: Cowboys' Elliot suspended for six game in domestic case.

Front page next story down: "Violent, mean and ruthless': Vanderdoes Learned Lesson Well. Gosh, I guess Cowboys' running back Ezikial Elliot learned it well too.

Page 4: Stunner: U.S. finishes 1-2 in women's steeplechase. STUNNER. TWO WOMEN, Emma Coburn and Courteny Frerichs, win a significant INTERNATIONAL competition, defeating Kenyan and Ethiopian women who have been dominating this event for years.

ABUSIVE MALE and a young man who advertises VIOLENCE, MEANNESS, and RUTHLESSNESS. Is there something wrong here????? Sure, I understand the violence, etc is meant to be confined to the football field. But, maybe, just maybe, such learned traits become habit and spill over into one's day to day life. Looks that way for Ezikial who, by the way, beat up his girlfriend. I suspect the running back is just a tad stronger that her, and definitely more violent. Guys that beat up women are cowards. That's the bottom line, COWARDS.

There was nothing cowardly about how Emma and Courteny finished their race, powerful runners both of them, completely in control, testing every last ounce of their courage. They should have been the headline on the front page. Shame on the Bee.

Courage   by Tom Meschery

I ran and ran 
until I caught myself
and passed me 
on the right
to the finish line'
and crossed 
into the night

Monday, July 31, 2017

Front Page of Newspaper Sports Section - you gotta be kidding.

I'm not indicting all newspapers, but I'm betting that most front pages of sports sections around the country look a  lot like the one in this morning's Sacramento Bee. (Monday 31, 2017)

The following are the four front page articles: #1: NBA Kings hire an assistant GM.  #2: Baseball' Hall of Fame Inductions. #3 Arik Armstead, Offensive tackle for the 49er looses a bunch of weight and can run faster. #4 The Dodgers kick the sh-t out of the Giants.

Of the four articles headlining the front page, only one deserved that exclusive position: men inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame. I enjoyed the read. Congratulations for long and worthy careers.

The other three, are you kidding me? An "assistant" on the front page? A porker loosing weight so he a can "tag" a quarterback in the first couple of days of practice. Do I really care? Does it mean, he'll be able to "tackle" a quarterback in a real game? Not a given. And a bunch of looser loosing to a a hated rival. The Giants' are in last place. Read my lips, LAST place. Who gives a sh-t?

These three articles took the place of the following sports news: Caleb Dressel won his 7th gold medal of the world aquatics championship in Budapest, Hungry. WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.  He's the first swimmer, ever, to win 3 golds in one night in a major swimming event. Dressel's seven golds tie a record set by the illustrious Michael Phelps. I would have liked to read more about the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. There were a bunch of women swimmers competing and taking golds. And, an American won the 27 meter high dive. I think the Aquatic World Championship is far more interesting than Armstead shedding pounds, so he can be quicker off his feet.

Two other stories deserved front page news that wound up on the back pages. The women's soccer team came from behind in spectacular fashion to beat Brazil and move into the final round of the Tournament of Nations. Bernard Langer won the Senior British Open for his record-extending 10th senior major title and 5th in the last 10. Come on, don't those two accomplishments sound a hell of a lot more interesting than news of the basement dwelling and desultory Giants or the King's hiring an "assistant."

One might ask, why did the Bee give preference to an "assistant", to "weight loss" and to an "ass-kicking?" Here's the answer. Sports editors pander to the so-called "major" sports. The Giants don't deserve front page news. The 49ers were the second worst team in the NFL last season. How do you spell "worst.?" Not best. Not even mediocre. You tell me why Armstead's conditioning deserves to be on the front page and Julie Ertz is relegated to a couple of sentences in the back of the section. Ah, man, are we back to that tired, old gender thing?

Sports sections should devote their front pages to sporting accomplishments - to deeds worthy of our best dreams..

Here's a thought in honor of Bernard Langer, who is becoming more famous as a professional golfer in his senior years. It's the last four lines of Alfred Lord Tennyson's Ulysses. In the poem, Ulysses, the Greek epic hero, is growing old and wants to go out on one more adventure. He's exhorting his old sailors and comrades to join him, but they are reluctant.

How dull it is to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use,
As though to breathe were life. 

Bernard Langer is not simply breathing, as he grows old, he's doing, like Ulysses, setting an example for all of us seniors to follow.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Awh, Tax Considerations for Millionaires

I am shocked, just shocked that NBA players have to pay such high taxes. Isn't there anything that the federal government can do about it? Millionaire are soooo taken advantage of by states.

What's that song: Do not cry for me Argentina. Well, don't cry for these star pro athletes who live in a country where tax shelters for the rich are as many as prairie dog holes in the desert.

But, let's get a little perspective on the situation. Let's look at a teacher's annual salary top scale after 30 years, which would be approximately $80,000. Even if that teacher was paid the top salary for all the years he or she taught (which, of course, he or she doesn't) that would amount to $2, 400,000. after being in the classroom trances for 30 years. Gordon Hayward, after those ridiculously high taxes will net $69.4 million after four years of being in the NBA trenches. My math maybe a tad off, but that looks to me like $2.4 mil a teacher makes over 30 years amounts to 3.5 % of what Hayward will make in 4 years.

With those kind of numbers staring them in the face, how can teachers complain that they are being underpaid?

I paid professional basketball in the NBA for ten years. It was fun. I worked my butt off as I know these present day athletes do, but I guarantee that one year of playing pro ball (as entertaining as it is) does not improve our society as much as a single day of a teacher teaching a classroom of 30 youngsters.

I'm not angry with the players, nor am I angry with the NBA league or team ownership. They are trying to put together the best entertainment product they can. The NBA has tons of money these days, and as far as I can tell is sharing equitably No gripes from me. I love the game.

However, what I don't like is some dumb-ass sports-writer writing a "woe is me" article, similar to the one I read in today's Sacramento Bee about the inequities of state by state taxation on pro athletes, as if the average citizen gives a crap about pro ball players having to pay high taxes. Like I give a rat's ass that Billionaires in the United States need tax breaks.

 Give me a break!

It's not a sports poem, but one I wrote about teaching, which is in my first collection Nothing You Lose Can Be Replaced.

The Suicide     by Tom Meschery

One teacher says she saw it coming
which drives he rest of us by lunch
crazy with guilt, remembering the old
ed. movie: Cipher in the Snow.

So we promise ourselves, next period
there'll be no ciphers. We'll even embrace
the wall-eyed one who lurks in the back
drawing obscenities on his desk.

Of course we don't, returning to decorum
with the bell, to Marilyn passing notes,
Harry's runny nose, Carrie's menstrual cramps,
essays overdue, forgotten texts.

In sixth period, one girl by the window starts
to weep, but when I ask was he her friend,
she shakes her head; she never knew him,
but thinks he was her brother's best friend's' cousin.

Suddenly the room is filled with students crying,
her tears having started a chain reaction,
the way one can't help humming a certain tune
or when frightened in the dark, whistling.