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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.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

I Guess the Season Has Started

 The Harden trade completed, sending players hither and yon - confusing the hell out of my wife, who has no idea where Westbrook is playing these days -  the NBA 2021 season has officially started. 

A few words about the Hardin trade. The Beard gets the bad Karma award for dissing Rockets. Houston made you,James, have a little more class.I join everybody's question mark: how will the trio of Irving, Durant and Harden manage minutes and touches. If coaches can figure it out, offense will be unstoppable. However, championships are won on the D side, and Hardin can't defend, while Kyrie is not enthusiastic about defending beyond the first pass. DeAndre Jordan still can't shoot free-throws. And Nets are going to miss Mr. Super Afro a lot. 

Standings as of today, January 20 (Trump's Departure Date HOOWAH!): Under-performers of note are the Nuggets at 6/7; and Miami at 5/7. I'm real high on the Heats' Precious Achiuwa. How can you not love a 6"8",260 pound power forward?  Just what the doctor ordered to help Bam. (Bam & Precious) Heat lineup will solidify, then look for them to compete for Eastern Conference title again. 

Ditto, Nuggets in the West. Jocic trimmed and slimmed down body is a monster. Missing Jerami Grant, but Nuggets can upset anybody. Maybe not the Lakers who have better players all around than they did last season. Schroeder vs Rando, for one example. How the hell did the Raptors let Ibaka and Gasol leave. Huge mistake. Owners gotta pony up. You're zillionaires, pay the damn luxury tax. . 

Checking the rest of the league: I don't have a lot of faith in the Bucks to win the East. That is unless Giannis suddenly starts shooting a better percentage from the field. Again, it's all about playoffs, that's when defense picks up dramatically and all the teams are on to his drive/spin move. Oh, he'll score all right, but teams will sag off him and play him for the drive. The Clippers are going to miss Montrzel big time. Lucky they got Ibaka, but the Clips will miss Mantrzel's husstle points. Big Q, is, will Paul George be there during post season? 

Pundits seem high on the Suns. I buy that with Paul as distributor and Ayton growing into his talent. Jae Crowder, a great two -way guard pick up. Portland was high on my list at the start of this year, but now that they lost Nurkic (maybe for a season) and McCollum for at least a month, things not so rosy. I'm happy for Carmelo making a comeback but don't trust his court sense. Without Nurkic and a healthy McCollum, Dame can only carry this team into the playoffs. Good pick up of Jones.

Boston has got to find somebody in the post. Might have found a point guard of the future in Oegon Duck Pritchard. Hard to tellright now what kind of team they'll become later in the season.. They might very well surprise folks as it gets down to the wire. Philly, what can I say? Simmons can't shoot. Embid is physically unreliable. If Embid is really healthy at the end of the season, they can win the East.

Dallas needs a tough minded Big. Cauley Stein doesn't cut it. Imagine if the Mavs had, for exampe, Capella around the rim with Doncic passing. Porzingis is another player with unreliable physical health issues. There's some chatter about the Utah Jazz. Donovan Mitchell needs a second All Star at the wing. Bogan is a fine catch-and shoot to stretch the floor, but he can't really create for himself. 

Atlanta will be strong all season, but need something? I'm open to suggestions. They brought in enough players to assure they win their division. But compete for the East?  What's missing? Indiana Pacers is another team that remain dangerous about seven deep then, a drop off. Warren injured hurts. LeVert from the Nets will help. 

Finally, what to say about my Warriors? This year's playoffs depend on how fast rookie first rounder, James Wiseman grows into his awesome potential. He seems like a fast learner. Check back with me after All Star break. I'll leave it at that. 

On this day of transition, Thank God, from Trump to a real, caring, President, Joe Biden, I offer the National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, and her inauguration poem. Too long to post. Find it on any site.






Friday, January 8, 2021

For Draymond

 Reading this morning's Athletic, I felt so sorry for Draymond Green speaking about the terrorists storming and pillaging our national capital, how in his words, if those people had been of color they would have been met by the National Guard with guns and attack dogs, beaten into submission and hauled of in unmarked vans to jail. Draymond sounded so depressed. I thought of Doc Rivers' sorrowful question, I paraphrase: Why do we love a country so much that doesn't love us back? If this isn't what was in the back of Draymond mind, it surely must have been there like a shadow of thought. 

As athletes we grow up believing in a level playing field. No person of color (or any right-thinking white) is so foolish as to believe this works as a metaphor for equal rights and opportunity in America. As a goal, however, it is surely something to hope for and play for. Sadly, what I heard from Draymond was a hopelessness that such a future level playing field will never be attained. 

That Draymond and every African American watching the Capital debacle feels this way with its related depression and anger can not be left unrecognized. As a consequence of not dealing with the promise of a level playing field, I offer this poem by Langston Hughes:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up 

Like a raison in the sun?

Or fester like a sore - 

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and and sugar ovr

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load

Or does it explode?  

                                                            ***

So, is there anything this blog can offer that might help Draymond's depression? About the present, nothing helpful, I'm afraid. Our so-called president has managed to raise to the surface of our country all of its racial prejudices in a bunch so it sits on our body politic like scum. 

There is, however, a possible scumless FUTURE. And this might help. To identify it, one must look to television commercials for proof. Over the last decade, I'd been noticing more and more TV ads featuring inter-racial couples selling products. At first I thought these ads were designed by advertising companies for a targeted liberal east/ west coast audience, leaving the less liberal parts of America watching same-o-same-o un-mixed racial images. I telephoned my sister, a retired advertising exec to find out what the story was. The inter-racial commercials were viewed all over the country she told me. Her words, "The advertising industry has always been ahead of the demographic curve. Inter-racialism is where this country is trending."

Draymond, I don't know if this information helps you to visualize a better America. It does comfort me somewhat. I recognize it in the way my grandchildren and their friends and school mates think and inter-act positively with all races. I see the younger generations as multi cultural and multi-racial. And the generation of Trump voters see it too and are terrified by it. Thus their violence to hold on to their white power. But there is nothing they can do about the trend. An inter-racial society is coming. It is inevitable. And, Draymond, with this new and better generation of young people growing up and voting for change will finally come the level playing field you so desperately yearn for. Look around you. Check out the young people. Don't despair.   


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A Few Quick Thoughts about the Opening Games of 2020/21 Regular Season

 As I watched Warriors rookie center James Wiseman play last night, I wished Curry, Thompson, and Green were 3 years younger. Why? Because it's probably going to take this young man a season to fully realize his Hall of Fame skills. The question is by then will the trio of Dubs that brought the first NBA Championship to the Bay Area be able physically and mentally to make the most of Wiseman. A season doesn't seem like a long time, but you have to take into account Thompson will be coming of his second season ending injury. Steph and Draymond will have to live through what looks - taking into account what I saw on the court last night - the brunt of opponents defensive emphasis. In other words, they're going to take a physical beating. I don't doubt they'll be up for it; they top gun pros. Still, a beating is a beating. And takes it's toll. 

BUT, Imagine our trio of vets three years younger and James Wiseman one year older. Oh boy!.

I don't mean to be negative. It's just that age is one of the relentless realities a professional athlete must take into account.  

Okay, the reality check noted, let's move on to a little MAGIC. Imagine if Wiseman comes around faster, say after the coming All Star break, and his presence lessens the stress on Curry and Draymond. Or Oubre Jr and Wiggins play up the their talents (Wiggins sure didn't last night) and help to take the pressure off Curry and Draymond. And, on top of that,  the bench becomes a tough minded defense, also taking pressure off Curry and Draymond. At which point the Warriors surprise the league by making the playoffs and maybe, more surprises, going a little further. And, And, And, the following year Klay Thompson comes back with a fury, and Wiseman is now a full year older in terms of experience. You see what I'm saying?

Some thoughts to consider. Am I making myself clear. WISEMAN IS GOING TO BE MAGNA-GREAT... 

Some other consideration about the Net's game. I usually don't agree with Sir Charles, but he was right to point out that the Nets have the best bench in the league. And though I might have mis-heard, there was some talk by the Talking Heads of a rumored trade of James Harden for a bundle of Net's players. If true, my response: DON'T DO IT. The chemistry will be a stink bomb. 

Of he Laker/Clippers game. Hard to tell. I think the Lakers will wind up missing Green's steady 3 ball. But's still AD and King James until further notice. The loss is indicative of nothing.

SPORTS     By Tom Meschery

Three days ahead have been predicted HOT

Dangerous, one writer warns. Air quality unhealthy.


Below the weather, the obituaries from the previous page:

Rita Feldman, a nurse for thirty years, a mother


of four and a grandmother of seven boys.

Two photographs, one young, the other old.


Why is that? A reminder that the past is not

so long ago? In both photographs her face is sweet.


John Thompson Jr. died, then Chadwick Boseman

and Tom Seaver. All made the front page.


Death, these days, is stifling. We wear masks

with the insignia of our favorite sports teams.


My wife's O for Oregon, my W for Warriors.

Yesterday I saw a mask that read I CAN'T BREATHE!


The Climate is changing as we speak, too danse,

it's like water too thick to drink. I've turned to prayer.


Boseman played Jackie Robinson on the screen

and made us see a black man with our hearts.


I tried an elegy for John, but found my white man's

dictionary lacked sufficient words. For Seaver,


he possessed a wicked fast ball and a slider

that drove batters of two decades nuts.


Later, I hear Cliff Robinson, of the Blazers

died, which made my three dead athletes, a quartet.


Outside, the temperature is climbing.

The Fed Ex Championship is on T.V. 


The major leagues are swinging for the fences

and in Florida the NBA is playing in a bubble. 


Sunday, December 6, 2020

NBA 2020/2021 Season

If you have been reading my blog, you've noticed I shut down about the same time the NBA shut down. I could have started up again for the Orlando Bubble, but I didn't. No logical reason why I didn't. I watched the games, of course, but the ambiance depressed me. I began to hate the virtual one dimensional fans. Started having cardboard nightmares. Yes, the NBA did the best they could, and there was no getting around it, the Lakers were the best team, although if Miami\had one more big to guard the Lakers' bigs, especially AD, the outcome would have been different. To me, the Heat were much more fun to watch. The difference being sort of like watching leopards and elephants. LeBron at his age is a miracle, but I'd still take MJ over him to build a team around. Monsieur Le Bron just doesn't possess the same finesse as Jordan.  

A few Bubble takeaways: Until Antetekumpo learns to shoot an effective 3 ball, championships will continue to elude the Bucks. What would it take for The Greek Freak in his present non-shooting state to win an NBA Championship? Place him on the Warriors with Steph and Klay or any team with such stratospheric 3 point shooters to open up the middle. At the moment there are none on the Bucks. So look for 3 point shooting teams with tons of cap space to go hunting for the Greek at the end of the season. He'd be wise not to sign the max with the Bucks and wait to see who's bidding. 

The Suns demonstrated "watch out for us" next season. I believe Paul will help. He was a total pro with the Thunder. He'll give the young Suns some real stability. 

The Clippers demonstrated they blew up their chemistry from the previous year by adding Kawhi and George, but didn't do the work in the lab to find the right formula, so they looked always out of sinc. 

Why don't I like Jocic? It's body language, I suspect, kind of like do I really have to have energy all the time? And what's with the runny nose? Would the Warriors love to have him? The way he passess, I got to give him that. Curry would average 50 a game. Ok, so Jocic is mixed metaphor. 

Now for the coming season, not in any particular order. Teams now in training camp.

Awful news about Klay. Strong character/will power/he'll be back. A coup for GM Myers getting Oubre as the next best player for the Dubs to replace Klay, and when Klay comes back, hey, why not make this long athletic defense-minded dude a continuing part of the roster? Wannamaker is less known but a gem. He'll surprise. Let's hope Looney has a durable year for once. He's capable until the kid gets his feet wet and takes over. 

If you're worried about Toronto losing Gasol and Ibaka, they maybe stronger with the dudes they picked up to replace them. More pounding/less finesse is not always so bad with their surrounding cast. 

Boston helped themselves some with the Cavs' Thompson. I was hoping the Heat would have signed him. Just what they needed for paint strength. 

Why the Heat paid Myers Leanard big bucks, (unless it's not guaranteed) violates my sense of fairness.

Atlanta might turn out to be the surprise team this coming season in the East. Bogdanovic was a heck of a pickup. I can see an effective tandem at the one and two. Confident they'll sort out the paint log-jam. 

The Nets. It will be the Kyrie-Durant show. Or should that be visa-versa? Consider the importance of team chemistry in this case. Will they run into the same problem as the Clippers? The Nets core players were/are not too bad. K and D will eat up a lot of touches. See what I mean?  I like Nash at the helm. I was sorry they hired D'Antoni. His we'll outscore you philosophy works for season, sucks for playoffs. Man doesn't learn. But maybe as an assistant he can stay focused on the offense without screwing up the total team cosmos.

Recent trade of Westbrook - not my favorite player - but got to come to his defense. The Wiz will be a better team with him than with Wall. No matter what, teams must collapse on Westbrook when he penetrates. Bertrans and Beal should be excited. Dunkers (NBA Samuri) should be poised to be fed. That is, if Westbrook takes this trade as a chance to na-na his nay-sayers. I've never thought of Russell as an underdog, but in this case I'm pulling for him. 

Utah and Denver a little bit better but will it be enough. Nuggets will miss Plumlee. Plumlee blocks and dunks and runs the floor. Should have signed him. 

That's it for NBA for the time being. Now for life;

As athletes we're taught by our coaches the importance of being good sports. If we lose, not to pout, to shake our opponents' hands. We don't have to like losing, but we should never act like a loser. Enter "oh woe is me" Donald Trump. What a frigging crybaby. Obviously he was never an athlete. Cry babies don't cut it. I bet he cheats at golf.  

2,841 PERSONAL FOULS   By Tom Meschery

Even at the age of 82,

when I should know better,

the thought of dying sill pisses me off.

I feel as if I've just been called

for a foul I didn't commit.

I was reading the sports page. Years of fouls

I didn't deserve came back. The unfairness.

Refs missing the elbow that hit me,

but seeing the one I threw to even the score.

This morning didn't I wake up to sunlight

and a warm breeze? Didn't my wife

poke her head into the office 

to tell me she loved me? I flavor

my coffee with honey that is sweet as life.

I should live a little longer.  


 

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Bubble #1

Guess I better be legit and say something about the Bubble. I've been reluctant because I believed the league would have been better to have frozen at the playoffs at the start of the COVID 19 shutdown. Yeah there were/has been a few instances of drama, but come on, no way these teams competing for the 8 spot had /have any chance of a an upset. So, we have Blazers instead of the Griz? 

Frankly, I wouldn't have minded if the first round  had been eliminated, or at least made a best of 5 series. Okay, okay, I get the $ thing. In a five game series I still wouldn't have missed that sensational last second 3 by Doncic, And the fifth game would have mercifully ended the series, so we could get to the real competition. While I'm on the Mavs, Doncic is playing with a sprained ankle and Przingis is sitting? It's playoff time, dude! 

Based on what I've seen, I have the Clippers playing the Bucks for the Championship, Probably most fans do, so no crystal ball. I'm a little concerned that teams have figured out how to play Antetekompo's twisting dribble penetration better. Saying that, he's still a FORCE. Both teams are seriously DEEP. 

Boards, defense and bench production are usually the definers of NBA Champs.  

In the West: Lakers have a chance to beat the Clippers. Some have opined, the Lakers don't need Avery Bradley. Wrong!

The Eastern Conference is a little more interesting. The Celtics have been playing inspired ball. But truly weak at the 5 spot. Raptors could make a series of it, if Ibaka and Gasol can be a consistent force on the boards. And then, there is the Miami Heat, my favorite upset team. I say that knowing they're a long-shot. But you gotta love the way they play together with their mix of young and vet players. go Igudala! How about coming back to the Warriors? You don't need the $. Vets max and lots of glory. Retire as a Dub. 

Back to the Heat. This is Spoelstra's best coaching season. He gets my vote for Coach of the Year.  

Another black man shot by police. In the BACK. That's not even right in B Westerns. You shoot someone in the back if you are a coward. The act speaks for itself. BLACK LIVES MATTER MORE THAN EVER. 


KINTSUGI     By Tom Meschery

     For Maurice Stokes & Jack Twyman

            When Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage

            by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when a thing suffered

            damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.

 

He fell on his head in 1957, which qualifies as history.

The damage was vast, paralyzed from the neck down.

 

You are too far away, too young, still flying through the air

with reckless abandon as if you have grown wings, falling

 

never enters your mind. Your legs propel you. You lift off

You keep your eyes on the spot of glass the ball will touch

 

and drop soundlessly through the net. You will descend

You’ve done this hundreds of times. No harm will befall you.

 

How do we repair our broken country? There’s not enough gold.

So much for metaphor. There was, instead, a teammate’s goodness,

 

a history of care: money raised, hospital bills paid, hands held.

It was the kind of righteousness like a salve keeping Maurice alive.

 

You were too young. Your wings were new to you. You yearned

for flight. It is not hard to imagine youth suspended in air.

 

The goodness was like gold. You could see beauty shining through

his skin. It healed but didn’t cure. The cracks were too grave.