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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, 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.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Not as Good as They Look and Not as Bad as They Look and etc

Although Lonzo Ball has had a fabulous Summer League, I'm still of the opinion because of his odd mechanics, he's going to have a lot of trouble trying to make his jump shots off the bounce. A Dennis Smith Jr's blush is off his rose. Unlike Ball, he doesn't trust his teammates as much as he should for a point guard, which leads me to ask if he's isn't a shooting guard.

A quick note about Lonzo:  Coaches of youngsters listen up? It's going to be your job to keep youngsters idolizing this rising star from modeling his weird shooting mechanics. Ball is an unusually talented player and might get away with it, but it will not serve other kids well. 

If I were the Lakers, I'd keep most of their Summer League starters, G League, wherever. Dallas might have a sleeper in China's MVP, Ding if they provide him with lots of instruction over the summer and minutes on the court.

Kings' 7'1" first round pick from last year, Papagiannis would benefit from the Pete Newell Big Man's Camp that has been resurrected by Cal Bear great Bill McClintock. The kids' footwork is lousy and he brings the ball down below his shoulders. There must be some film somewhere of Clyde Lee of the Warriors somewhere to show him.

I'm not sure about this, but I'm going to throw it up in the air and see if it sticks. This years of draft choices could be heralding a new NBA era. There are going to be a lot of star players making their bones beginning with the 2017/18 season. The Curry, Harden, Westbrook Durant era will be the Paul, Carmelo, James, era in 4 years and these new studs will be moving into their prime. 

Etc beings me to 36 year-old Roger Federer winning Wimbledon for his eighth and record breaking time.

Dell Martin, Rhodes scholar  and one time Stanford sprinter sent me this fabulous tennis sonnet.

Prothalamion    by Maxine Kumin

The far court opens for us all July.
Your arm, flung up like an easy sail bellying,
comes down on the serve in a blue piece of sky
barely within reach, and you following
tip forward on the smash. The sun sits still
on the hard white linen lip of the net. Five-love.
Salt runs behind my ears at thirty-all
At game I see the sweat that you're made of.
We improve each other, quickening so by noon
that the white game moves itself, the universe
contracted to the edge of the dividing line
you toe against, limbering for your service,
arm up, swiping the sun time after time,
and the square I live in, measured out with lime. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Is This Just a Little Nuts, or What?

Our country's sports leadership better not blast the former East Germany for measuring, weighing, and analyzing their babies for future athletic prowess too much, at the risk of sounding hypercritical. In today's sports page, I read about Neiko Primus, considered by our "measuerers" to be the best FOURTH grader basketball player in the United States. It scared me and saddened me. Such is the basketball world the AAU has created for today's youngsters. My grand daughter, 14 year old Carson Guite, plays on an AAU team out of Petaluma, CA. She's good and if she continues to work in high school, could very well get a scholarship to play in college, a result that would save her parents lots of money.

But the pressure for Neiko and other youthful phenoms looks very different from my granddaughter's. The financial nature of the AAU basketball subjects kids like Neiko to a great deal of pressure in their lives, pressure that no amount of good parenting will be able to completely eliminate. And for kids with parents with poor parenting skills, the results could be tragic. Greedy parents can do a lot of damage to their children by instilling in them unrealistic expectations of athletic greatness. The let down when it happens - and it mostly does - can be devastating. It is at an older age, how much more at a young age? Fourth grade? Is this insane or what?

The reality is there's not much this blogger can do except to voice his opinion to lighten up on the young age groups. Give them a chance to climb trees or play curb baseball or ride their bikes. When should organized practices and organized games begin? How about middle school? Will this ever happen? Not a chance. Why? Because there's too much money being made off our youngsters by the people who run AAU. Kid's mental and physical health vs money. Guess what wins? It's no contest.

In the spirit of simple play and fun, no pressure, let's stay young, here's an old rhyme

Come on In       Anonymous

Come on in,
The waters fine.
I'll give you
Till I count to nine.
If you're not 
In by then,
Guess I'll have to
Count to ten.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Little More About the 2017 Summer League

The Bulls have a winner in Lauri Maarkanen. More physical than I originally believed. He could wind up being the next generations' Dirk Nowitski.

The Warriors did not overwhelm. I figured McCaw and Damian Jones would do well. Jabari Brown demonstrated he's got a chance, but he might be better off in Europe for a couple of years, then try again.

The Lakers Lonzo Ball did indeed make a triple double. But 5 of 13 and 1 of 5 from deep is not impressive, and will be the kid's undoing unless this is simply a case of nerves. Like I said before, from elbow to fingertips, his stroke is fine; it's that silly wind-up that's bothersome.

Since I'm not one of the old (very old) players who resents the $$$$$$$ these young men are making in the NBA today, I'll pass on Harden receiving $228 million. I must wonder, however, where in the calculations of worthiness in Houston does defense enter into the conversation.

The Knicks are only crazy bringing free agent Tim Hardaway Jr. for a dubious big bucks contract back to the Big Apple if they can't get rid of Carmelo. To me, Melo, is an albatross. Has been since he came out of Syracuse to torture George Karl in Denver. I hope the Rockets get him. It will be fascinating to see how D'Antoni figures out how to utilize Carmelo, Chris Paul and Harden to gether or separately while having anything close to the kind of defense required to go deep into the playoffs and/or win a championship.

The Kings have another winner in Justin Jackson. I loved his motor and bball IQ. Ah, you say, but these are only the Summer League games, and of course, you are right. But there's plenty of talent in Jackson to be extremely optimistic.

A quick note on baseball: Barry Bonds looking thrilled he's his plaque goes on the Giant's Wall of Fame. Cheaters sometimes win????

On the other side of the bay from Bonds, the A's were flourishing with Bill King behind the mic calling the games. It's not poetry, but here's a small reminder of my bearded friend, the best All-Around play by play man in sports. The following excerpt is from Holy Toledo: Lessons from Bill King Renaissance Man of the Mic by Ken Korrach, Wellstone Books. Fascinating reading.

"Defensive indifference, now the ball gets away behnd
the mound on a throwback! Coming home to score is
Jason Kendall! And on a freak play, the Athletics have
won the game and the series! You would not believe it!
That is one for the books! Holy Toledo!"

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Shout Sports' Talk Shows and etc

Jamie Horowitz, the godfather of shout sports talk shows, was fired. Hopefully that means that these dreadful, dumb-down shows will soon be off the air. That he was considered a TV genius for putting two "supposedly knowledgeable" sports guys sitting across from each other with a beautiful women in the middle as an arbiter (what a joke) shouting and arguing like a couple of dysfunctional
teenagers, is beyond comprehension. That he is accused of sexual misconduct does not surprise me. We are living in a society in which disrespect and low brow bullying is being accepted as normal behavior. Shouting a lot and being disrespectful to women, what president of the United States does that remind you of? Duh! Republicans, what do you think about this version of the "Trickle Down Effect?"

Sorry for the downer to start, but I'm outraged that our president is cozying up to Russia's Prez, Putin, a KGB killer. Yes, read my lips - KILLER. Make no mistake about it, as a KGB operative, that man has blood on his trigger finger. If anybody believes Putin was a simple KGB bureaucrat, shuffling papers, I've got the Golden Gate Bridge to sell you. In the eyes of many Russians these days, Putin is still killing his adversaries. John McCain had it right when he said, "I looked him [Putin] in the eyes, and I saw three letters: K.G.B."

I'm going to say this only once, a year from now, every person who voted for Donald Trump, except for some hard core fanatics, will regret their vote.

In the midst of such insanity; sports guys shouting at each other, our president. . . (oh the hell with it), there is the purity of sports to consider, The NBA Summer League, a bunch of gifted young men competing against each other to see who will join the ranks of the elites.

Yesterday was the first of the 2017 summer league televised from Las Vegas. Can't wait to comment after checking the games out more. Poor Lonzo Ball got an eye opener. That is one slow and weird looking jump shot he has. Once the real season starts, I can't imagine him getting clear shots off much less hitting them. But there is no doubt, the young man has the ability to facilitate and pass to open teammates. However, my guess is coaches will tell the guy guarding Ball to sluff off and play passing lanes, which sort of negates the kid's ability to penetrate.

The Kings have found their point guard of the future, in DeAaron Fox.  He'll have to earn his stripes, but I see him running the Kings from very early on, with George Hill at the Two to start with. Fox possesses lightning speed, (hands and feet) a great middle distance jumper, floater, and he finishes drives. He's long and is an excellent defender.

The Suns have  a rising star in Josh Jackson. Mike James may be a nice surprise.

I have a couple of terrific son-in-laws, who are fishermen. Here's a small quatrain in honor
of their fishing skills.

And Angling, Too    by Lord Byron  from Don Juan

And angling, too, that solitary vice,
Whatever Izaak Walton sings or says:
The quaint, old, cruel coxcomb, in his gullet
Should have a hook and a small trout to pull it.