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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, January 15, 2019

Sactown

What's that song? Sactown Races, do dah. . . etc?  Okay, Camptown Races.

Not that you don't think you're at the races watching the young Sacramento Kings basketball team, led by thoroughbred, De'Aarron Fox. Young man from U of Kentucky can out race most if not all of the NBA guards. He encourages, by example, the rest of the team to catch up to him, and they've been doing it this season. If the Kings were not in the tough Western Division, at 22 - 21 they'd be in 3rd place in the Central and Southwest Divisions and 2nd place in the Southeast.

After my Warriors, the Kings are my favorite team to watch. They are young, enthusiastic, and fast, Watching youthful mistakes can be frustrating, but their losses are never about lack of effort. Sure, they've let a few games where they were ahead, slip away in the fourth quarter. Even in defeat, they're youthful exuberance is a joy to see.

All the Kings administration and coaching staff need to do is be patient. One more solid draft choice or acquisition, Perhaps a wide body, kick-ass back-up center for Cauley Stein?  Perhaps a bigger back-up guard for Fox. I love Yogi, but he's not the tough JJ Barea type, so a longer body with similar quickness would be better. After that it's all about the continual growth of the young Crown Princes, aspiring to royalty.

Therein, of course, is the rub. Players at the highest level, just because they've got a signed contract, can not stop improving themselves. For example, If Cauley-Stein wants to reach stardom, he must learn to shoot a consistent mid-range jumper. Bagely, the a huge upside talent at power forward, must learn to shoot free-throws. All of them must work on their individual D. Team Defense is only as good as individual defenders defend individually. All of the Kings need to build strength and stamina. To be a playoff team, you need to be a fourth quarter team.

A few additional comments:

In professional basketball, if a really good team plays poorly in the first half, but their opponent can't stretch the lead beyond at least twenty points going into the locker-room, there is no guarantee the team ahead will be able to maintain the lead. I say this as an example of where I believe my Warriors are at this stage of the season. If one game represents the entire season, with half-time (half of the season) coming up. I don't see any team outplaying the Warriors in the second half, even thought the Dubs certainly haven't so far played as well as they can.

Saint Nick ran out of Miracles. That's what happens when you're the only Saint playing against a team of Saints.

I was not impressed with Dustin Johnson's reasoning for playing in Saudi Arabia. "I'm not a politician, I play golf." Soooo. . . athletes should not be sensitive to brutal murders? You're playing the back nine, while they cutting some guy up into pieces? You got enough $. F--k the Saudi murderers. Don't play. Show some courage!

Fox,    by Tom Meschery

    for De'Aaron   

On the trail,
leaving the riders ,
in their superfluous
red costumes behind,
out-running the hounds.



Monday, December 31, 2018

A Few Passing Thoughts Going Into 2019

One: I turned 80 and can play better D at my age than my Dubs are playing these days. Come on, fellows, don't let an octogenarian show you up. Talk, close-out, switch hard, get in peoples' faces. D is a 48 minute job. D is also a habit that can be lost if not played all the time.

Two: Raider fans don't deserve the screwing their getting from Little Davis, and I mean little and greedy. And from Mr. Know-It-All Gruden who struts the sideline like a banty rooster, with about as much football intelligence as the feathery critter. I hope they have to play next season on some Vegas high school turf..

Three: I'm not ruling out the 49ers the way I'm ruling out the Raiders. With the 49ers, you c;an detect a plan and an energy that will take them into next season. Not saying they'll kick ass next NFL season, but there will be lots of good carry-over. 2020 will be their year.

Four: Is there any way to get rid of Shaq and Barkley and giggle master Ernie from NBA broadcasting. Kenny, the only one who tries to talk hoops. All the other three do is clown around. Fans deserve better. Great to see Candace Parker talking basketball.

Five: Serena Williams is a STUD, and GORGEOUS and TALENTED. Why isn't tennis covered more fully in our newsprint? By the way, where are all our American tennis pros???

Six: That goes for lots of other so called "minor " sports - one of my favorite gripes. I'm getting really tired reading about what NBA stars having an owies and which NFL player has been suspended for beating up his girlfriend, and which college football stud has been suspended for using whatever frigging substance. Let's sub a womens' volleyball game story in instead of these boring and tawdry revelations. Americans have got to wean themselves off the Big Three Sports -baseball, football, and basketball diet. It's like get off the red meat and eat more veggies. With apologies to my Warriors. You know I love you.

Seven: Speaking of NFL, this year is noticeable for a whole group of new and exciting quarterbacks. Love Mahones, so much fun to watch. Along the same vein, great fun watching speedster DeAndre Fox of the NBA's Sacramento Kings. We're talking serious lightning speed..

Eight: The Sacramento Bee, our local newspaper, does not cover late ending sports, thus there is never a story about the Young Kings team, the city's only major league franchise when they play at home. Is that bush league, or what? Double ??? You think the NBA is going to award an All-Star game to a city with a rag like this?

Nine: I have never been an advocate for the death penalty. There is simply no evidence that it deters murders. However, as a high school teacher, I've been a witness to males (fathers even) abusing young girls and can not imagine anything more vile. Regarding the animal who abused all our lovely female gymnasts, I'm okay that the state give the SOB the needle. And any other abuser of children. Good riddance! And lets hear it for those young female gymnasts, in the middle of this monstrosity that was happening to them, still performing their sport with courage and dignity.

Ten: 2018 saw Tiger make a substantial comeback. He'll never be the Tiger,Tiger burning bright, but he can still play the game and get fans excited. A back injury in golf is like an Achilles injury is in basketball, tough to recover from. With that in mind, let's cross our Warrior fingers for DeMarcus Cousin's return from his torn Achilles tendon injury.

Eleven: Hey, I was sure sorry to read this morning about the 173 U.S. billionaires losing 5.9 percent of their wealth, leaving them - oh woe is me - with $1.9 trillion bucks. Can we all shed a tear?

Twelve: Some lies are more venal than others:. Closing out 2018, Trump tells our brave soldiers in Iraq that he got them a 10 % raise this year. TOTAL FRIGGING LIE. Go stand in the corner, Trump.
Has anybody figured out how many lies this man has told to the American public in 2018?

Thirteen:  One more time: Why not a four point line in the NBA? Tell me it wouldn't be exciting.

Fourteen: 2019 should be the year college football drops all these silly bowls: Music Bowls, and Ceramic Bowls, and Pizza Bowls and Mineke Muffler Bowls. Really? Do people give a sh-t?

Fifteen: Any bets on how many Trump groupies (read administration) will be indicted and begin serving time in 2019? The Republicans sold their souls for the 20% tax cut, and the Christian Conservatives sold their souls for anti abortion judges. And Fox News simply sold its soul.

Sixteen: Huge shout out for Lebron Jame's starting his I Promise Elementary School for At Risk children in his hometown of Akron. Also big thank you to Lebron for supporting new and wonderful medical insurance for NBA retirees. And to the NBA League and Player's Union for similar support and dedication to the guys from the past.

Seventeen: Bravo to Matt Millen, just underwent successful heart transplant surgery. All fingers crossed for a football warrior. We should all think the way he thinks about life when he said, "I'm thankful for what I have, and I'll take what I get."

Eighteen: Alabama and Clemson should be interesting. Got to hand it to Nick Saban; he continues to produce winners and that is not easy on any level of coaching. Sure the more you win, the easier it is to recruit the best HS players. But coaching the best is not easy and requires a special kind of personality. It's not just X and O's.

Nineteen: Pop doing some terrific coaching with a whole lot less talent that he's had in the past.

Poem for the end of the year and for the coming year: Has nothing to do about sports, except JOY is a Coach Kerr of Golden State Warriors mantra.

Don't Hesitate    by Mary Oliver

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don't hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
it its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches 
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that's often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don't be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. 











Monday, December 10, 2018

Holiday Season review of NBA, and etc

The Golden State Warriors recent success when lots of talking heads were questioning the Dubs chances, is a perfect example of how essential a healthy team is in today's fast paced league. Curry out hurt was like losing the hub of a wheel, but also some missing spokes, like Draymond and at times Livingston, Igudala, McKinnie. Now the Dubs have lost Damian Jones. Sorry to hear of his injury, but the Warriors are fine playing small ball, so I'm not as worried.

The loss of key players is Houston's fault for not recognizing how key Ariza and Mbah a Moute were to the defenisive integrity of the team, be it ever so humble. The two missing players traded away kept defense together after the initial two passes, after which Harden, Paul, and Gordon  get lost or confused. It was even worse last season when Anderson was on the court. Couldn't guard my grandmother. Now Anderson is defenseless in Phoenix.

Does the Sun's coach have a clue? This team sucks on Defense. And, I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish on offense, do you? I really believed Ayton was going to be much more NBA ready than he is. He needs a summer and work.

A team can't possibly be as bad as the Wizards are with their personnel. Can John Wall be anything better than a bolt of lightning? This is all mental and coaching.

I take back anything I said about Doc being an overrated coach. His Clippers are tough and are making noise in the West. As early as it is, Tobias Harries is having an All-Star season. Harrell is a load. They defend aggressively. I didn't consider the Clips in the mix in my start-of-season NBA evaluation. The team chemistry has made me change my mind.

Butler has turned the 76ers into a championship caliber team. But I really question Butler's attitude and whether he might turn on his team like he did against the Twolves and the coach he owed his career to. I have a thing about loyalty, and Butler, in my mind, doesn't seem to seem to consider it important.

I didn't believe the Lakers could be competitive this year, even with Lebron, but I was mistaken. I do believe that Javale is one key, making a big difference for the Lakers, and good for him. Shaq has stopped dissing the man. Warriors could use the big fellow. But probably couldn't have paid him after last season. Sometimes these financial things are bad news.

 The Bucks' Antetetokounmpo really, really, really must develop a jump shot beyond five feet. Didn't any coach on the team tell him that's what he needed to work on during the summer. I would have had a shooting coach baby-sit the young man all summer. I would have done it. I love Greek food.

The Celtics are still my favorite to win the East. They just seem a little tougher mentally than the 76ers, Bucks, and Toronto. Hayward off the bench is working, but I'm betting in crunch-time Hayward will contribute to a essential wins.

OKC is playing extremely well, but I have never trusted Westbrook when it comes to decision making. The addition of the young German,Shroeder has added significant depth at the point. He and Westbrook actually play well together. How many teams would kill to have Adams?

The Jazz added depth they desperately needed with the addition of Korvar. The Jazz are well coached. They execute. They are solid in all areas, but their level of physicality is one rung down from the top.

Minnesota continues to be soft. Who would have thunk it with Coach Tibs at the helm. Has Wiggins improved? I don't think so. Twolves need a smart point guard desperately.

Indiana is similar to the Jazz. Lots of solid players but only one great one in Oladipo. To win a championship in the NBA these days, a team has to have at least two superior players at two different positions. Three would be even better.

Doncic is everything he was cracked up to be. His presence makes the Mavs a contender. However, I'm not a big Smith fan, but he'll suffice for the time being. Rim protector, rebounder and dunker in the paint with D'Andre Jordan. Harrison Barnes, Westly Matthews, JJ, Powell - more than enough offense now.

Did the Kings make a mistake not taking Doncic? Yes, they did, but with reservations. Bagley has a high upside, a long, fast lefty who, unlike Doncic, needs some time. Will he ever make the impact of a Doncic? I doubt it. However, if Bagley works hard, he will be an All-Star, in my opinion, so the Kings can't beat themselves up over the loss of the Slovenian, Larry Bird

The King's Fox is also the real deal. I love how he improved his three pt shooting over summer. I love players who improve themselves, work on their game. The Kings have to stay patient. Keep those young guys going and growing. One more solid draft choice. Look for the Kings to make plenty of noise next season. In the meantime, enjoy the speed as Fox races you down the court. How about this for a website title: Fear the Speed.  More evocative than Fear the Beard or Fear the Deer. Who the hell fears a deer, anyway, perhaps a stag or a moose. And a beard, how do you fear a scraggly bunch of hair. My wife says she sees critters living in Harden's Half of America's males are looking like the Wright Brothers cough drop guys. Looks like they're all living rough and doing the signs.

The Kings might consider firing the exec (alleged exec) who started talking about Coach Joeger and GM Divac having differences. Loyalty issues for me again. And upfront issues too. If you've got something to say, say it and own it.

Denver is definitely in the hunt. Big talented guy Jocic in the post. Some sharp shooting wings and backcourt. Millsap out but will be back after first of the year. Good coaching. Spoilers, but not winners, at least not yet in my opinion.

Portland at 14 and 11 for the moment. But only for the moment. Nurcic is not consistent. If he could be, that might change my opinion of team prospects. Aminu is not consistent. The Blazers are still lacking a dependable stretch three. Defense needs a tuneup as well.

Looking at the leader boards, I guess I shouldn't leave out Memphis, Charlotte, and Orlando, all playing well, but does anyone believe they'll be there at the top in April?

Etc:

Here's my idea for Kareem Hunt and guys like him who think it's okay to beat up women. Put abuser and abused in a vacant room. Tie both hands behind the abusive guy's back and give the woman a baseball bat. Then lock the door.

I've always believed a team wins championships with defense. Finally, the American people have put a good defense in place by voting in a Democratic House. Whatever trump's offense is, it will have to compete against a fired up Big D. What's going on in our country is totally crazy. Has the United States of America ever been in such a mess? Perhaps during the McCarthy period in the Fifties, but in that case we were anti-Communist and looking for American traitors at the expense of civil liberties. Now civil liberties in general are being manipulated out of existence.Were McCarthy alive today, he'd only have to look to the White House to find a Communist stooge. Yes, a Communist, Putin-loving stooge. When trump gets impeached, I suggest he go to Russia to live out his miserable life. Let's get our country back!

Amen to that, my wife says.


The Advantages of Being a World Class Athlete  by Anthony Lacavaro

In the end when the doctors circle around
Like doctors, they can find nothing wrong.

A perfect body they murmur over
And over like a prehistoric discovery,

Nothing wrong, nothing wrong except it's dead.
There will be no reason for this tragedy

Which catapults your death into the world
Of public myth: were you too good

For us, did they take you, or were you not
Of the earth to begin with and just returned.

The results of the test say nothing about it.
Though one of the doctors speaking

Out of turn, will say softly,
"One foot appears to be larger than the other."







Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Warriors Demise and etc

Mark Twain said, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Twain could have been talking about the Golden State Warriors, who are experiencing an unexpected losing streak. Horrors! Not the Dubs, not our darling Curry led angels (with one less than angelic Draymond, but what the hey, John Milton would completely understand the need for a seraphim with a chip."

To those of you who are rubbing your little anticipatory hands in glee, relishing an NBA Finals without the Warriors, you might want to revisit the Warrior roster. If I'm not mistaken, they still have the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Curry, Thompson, KD, and Green. They still employ the wily two vets, Livingston and Iguadala. The bench is improved over last year. And, sitting in the wings, or on the bench, wearing unnecessary speckles, healing from last season's Achilles injury, Gold Medal winning center, Demarcus Cousins.

Just saying!

My biggest etc is directed against the Sacramento Bee. In some management's wisdom, they have decided not to cover late sports. It has been totally frustrating to watch a game on TV, the Kings for example, watch them win, which didn't happen much for the last few years, and have nothing in the morning paper. This morning brought my temp to a boil. Yesterday the KC Chiefs and the LA Rams played what might have been the best Monday Night Football game in recent memory and there was nothing about it in the morning sports. It was the game didn't happen. Yesterday evening the Sacramento Kings, a bunch of growing youngster super stars, upset the seasoned and perennial playoff team the OKC Thunder and there was nothing in the sports this morning. It was as if the game had never been played. There wasn't even any coverage on the their On Line Bee. How hard is that to type in a story? Shame, shame, and shame. If the newspaper is so financially strapped that they can't cover late breaking news, they should fold their tent and slip into oblivion.

Hated to see the Chiefs/Rams game end on a Mahonnes' interception. Both QBs were magnificent.

For Hank Greenwald, the wittiest sports broadcaster in the biz, here's a poem I wrote in his honor.


PLAY BY PLAY

           For Hank Greenwald (1935 – 2018)

Hank calls it:
A 20 foot shot,
that goes 15.

Fans’ laughter
lighting up the airwaves.

It’s electric,
someone says.

“If that’s what it takes,”
Hank says, “I’ve got
plenty more
where that came from.”

And he had.
And he did.

Game after game
Warriors & Giants,
his words, like
sparks,
lighting up radios.



Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Klay & Etc

The warrior's Klay Thompson's 52 point record-breaking performance against the Chicago Bulls was, often noted but not nearly enough, an example of why the warriors are such a powerful team. Scoring performances of this kind are not some new phenomena for the Dubs. The Splash Brothers have been at it for a while, and KD has joined them to make it a scoring trio. So, what makes this newsworthy again and not just another ho-hum-in-the-zone-eye-popping-three-point extravaganza? It's not the player doing the scoring, that makes these performances, as brilliant as they are, important, it is the  performance of the players on the bench. As Klay's scoring against the Bulls proceeded, the ball dropping rimless into the basket, the net flipping like a young girl's skirt, the Warrior bench was on their feet, dancing, whooping, signing the air, holding each other in a display of team unity and affection that does not exist on other NBA teams - at least not with this exuberance and heartfelt joy. There has never been a professional sports team that exemplifies team camaraderie like the Dubs. It should be emulated by athletic youth throughout this country.

Right on Dubs.

I noted this morning sports page of the Sacramento Bee that Boston winning the World Series was not a headline. In fact what would have been headlines of most papers front page twenty years ago was down at the bottom of the sports page. I am not a baseball fan, but, come on, Bee, this is the World Series. The best the sport can offer, the Mount Olympus of sluggers and pitchers and fielders, and spitters, and hand-signalers, the  worthy descendants of royal game of cricket. I was beyond grief.

Okay, so I'm being a little sarcastic.

Lowell High School where I played and became an All American, was over 50% Jewish American kids. When I started playing in the NBA in 1961, most of the teams were owned by Jewish men. The owner of the team I started for, the Philadelphia Warriors, was Eddie Gottlieb, RIP, one of the good men of our sport. Playing in the NBA put me in touch with many wonderful Jewish Americans. I do not understand anti Semitism. It is so illogical and ignorant and brutish. I have been grieving for the families of those who died in their synagogue in Pittsburgh. And I am disgusted by the divisive comments and behavior of our president. This was the perfect moment for him to be presidential, to mourn with his Jewish American citizens, to don a yarmulke, to wear it so all Americans can see, and to publicly denounce the fascist and white supremacists, to name David Duke for what he is, an anti American bigot.

But, we all know trump can not and will not do this because the raciest, and Neo Nazis and white nationalists are part of his beloved base.

I have no answer for donald trump's evil. But I offer this to think about.

trump (v.2)

"fabricate, devise" 1690's, from trump "deceive, cheat" (1510's, from Middle English trumpen (late 14c.), from Old French tromper "to deceive," of uncertain origin. Apparently from se tromper de "to mock, " from Old French tromper "to blow a trumpet." Barchet explains this as "to play the horn, alluding to quacks and mountebanks, who attracted the public by blowing a horn, and then cheated them into buying worthless products.

Consider that people whose last names are baker probably originally were bakers, and those whose names are Smith had an original family member who was a smithy or a blacksmith. It does not surprise me, then, that donald trump is a descendent of deceivers and mountebanks. The acorn does not fall far from the family tree.

Here's a poem I wrote recently about being in the zone. I dedicate it to Klay Thompson.

AUTO DA FE

   I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At the right
   moment I light the match.

             Mia Hamm

I remember the game. I was on fire.
Shot after shot dropped.

Someone yelled from the stands I was hot.
I yelled pass me the fucking ball.

On the next move I burned my opponent
and scored. I was like one of those birthday candles,

the ones with the flames that never go out.
The arena was filling up with smoke.

Fans were holding handkerchiefs over their noses
In the distance I could hear sirens.

I was too hot to care, I was reckless
like a kid playing with matches.

It was only a game of basketball,
but I would not recant the story of my life.

If you tried to stop me,
I’d just add more fuel to the fire.

The rest is history.