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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, May 27, 2017

Pickle Ball

The fastest growing sport in the United States, Pickle Ball, held its 1917 Open Championship in East Naples, Florida yesterday. Simone Jardin won mixed doubles with male partner, Oliver Strycker and pro doubles with female partner Corrine Sieberscher.

I watched the match on television, going back and forth between pro golf and PB. Got to say, Pickle Ball provided some spectacular fast moving minutes in Pickle Ball in comparison to golf, which moves, oh, soooo slowly..Luckily for golf, the cameras move quickly between golfers so you don't have to watch golfers walking the fairways; otherwise, golf would not draw any kind of tv audience.

Back to Pickle Ball: Simone Jardin and other Pickle Ball players can't make a living yet playing their sport, but their commitment, enthusiasm and training is every bit as intense as our beloved Warrior players.

Here's a thought. Universities claim that the Big Bucks they receive support the school's minor sports. So let's get the major sport's athletes who're making obscene amount of money to support the less well known but equally important sports in our country, like Pickle Ball or Curling for example. Kevin Durant could fund the Pickle Ball Championship, say, half a mill for the purse - a terrific tax write off..Who'd fund Curling? Handball is a terrific sport too both the U.S. brand and the European form of the sport.

Anybody interested in some wonderful poetry about sports, I suggest an out of print book, but still available: Sprints and Distances compiled by Lillian Morrison from Thoma Y. Crowell Co. NYC.

From Sprints and Distances, a poem about Squash.

Civilities                by Thomas Whitebread

   The delicate corner shot,
Slicing the strings precise across the ball
at the right time, so that it lightly hits
         On one side wall,
    Kisses the front, then falls
Quick-dying down, most irretrievable,

    Is difficult to do
Unless a calm, an inner certainty
Comes to you softly in the midst of war,
         Setting you free
   From the slam-bang desire
To smash it hard no matter where. To be

   So deftly sure, so wise,
Wins points in squash. In another, harder game,
Word-play, a similar civility
     May equally tame
   Peaceless desires, and make
Your opponent yours by a nicety of name. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Red is Turning Over in his Grave

If Red Auerbach had witnessed the defensive performance of the Boston Celtic vs the Cleveland Cavs, he would have choked on his cigar and died a horrid second death. In all my years in the NBA and post NBA watching as a fan, I've never seen a more pathetic performance on DEFENSE. Every single Celtic player and coach should be ashamed of himself. The Cavs attacked on D, which is the only way to play D, and the Celts did not attack back. Thus the horrible lopsided results. As far as I could tell, there was no defensive strategy, except cowardice. If Coach Stevens is the wunderkind he's supposed to be, he better start doing some wunderkinding pronto. (Love it when I have an opportunity to do some mixed metaphoring.)

I've been out of the game for a long time, but how about this for a strategy, Coach Stevens: why not force the Cavs always to their baseline and collapse the weakside? I couldn't believe how many times the Cavs drove the middle of the paint undefended. Forcing to the baseline against guys like LeBron and Kyrie makes sense to me. Trap from the weakside, and make them throw the pass from a tight angle. The danger, of course, is that the weakside misses the rotation and one of two things happen: The dribbler shuffles a pass to the 5, (in the Cavs' case, Tristan Thompson for a dunk, or the opposite corner is free for a three.) That said, if the rotation is sound, this should not happen and the pass has to go over or through the paint to the top, not easy to do.

Note: I'm willing to move to Boston for the right price as a consultant to the Celtics on defense. Well, maybe not at my age. I'd probably suffer a heart attack and die in Boston. I'd prefer to die as the great Peruvean Poet Cesar Vallejo did, on the streets of Paris.

The Golden State Warriors will not allow the Cavs to beat them up on defense, that I can assure all fans of our Dubs. This will be a amazing series, as both teams are healthy and playing at the top of their game. It will be professional basketball at its best and most intense. I suggest for the Dubs something called Intense Physical Peace.  It translates like this: Players must be at the height of their physical intensity while maintaining inward peace.

Lastly, doesn't it seem to all that this is a series we're going to see for a number of years into the future, similar to the old Celtic vs Lakers series?

I missed the first two series of the conference finals being on vacation with my wife in Greece. We were traveling with a group of artists, sketching and water coloring. My wife's the  artist. I was along for the ride but managed to write a number of pretty good poems. One does have a little to do with basketball, so I'll end my blog with it.


Drawing requires a degree
of coordination and practice
like a sport. Like basketball
you add to get my attention,
knowing I played in the NBA.

But I'm thinking of the mist
covering the shore of the island
Gael drew in the morning
from the patio of our hotel
on the island of Folegandros.
And of Stephan Curry's shot
that arcs through the air
and plummets into the hoop
with such accuracy. I could
practice a thousand years
and never equal his talent.
Nor could I paint Gael's mist.

I have no doubt, practicing
your art makes you better,
remembering those early years
of brushstroke after brushstroke
learning to shoot a basketball
until the painting of myself emerged
fully formed out of the mist.
As for coordination, today, my hand,
holding the brush wobbles above
the turquoise banister.
My muscles lack the memory
trained for sports and not for art. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

From Athens to the Warriors

Back from a fabulous vacation to Greece - Athens and the Cyclades, drawing, writing poetry. Couldn't have been better. The only drawback was getting ongoing news about my Dubs. I wasn't that worried. I didn't believe the Blazers or the Jazz were going to be a problem, so I got my Parthenon fix, which included along with the historical sights, some of the best bread I've had since the non Monsanto conspiracy to GMO our wheat started in the USA. Imagine locally baked bread with a real taste. I gained 10 pounds. Well, it was not entirely the fault of the bread. The Greeks have a few tasty brews. Athos was my favorite. If my old beer drinking buddy and nemesis from the NCAA Cal Bear Championship basketball team is reading this, let's order a couple of cases.

Back to the Warriors. Curry and Durant shirts are on sale big time on the streets of Athens. More than the Greek Freak's jerseys, which I found curious and slightly traitorous. I'm surprised there aren't more Greek NBA players as Greek men appear to me to be naturally tall. 

Last night, still exhausted from 30 hours in transit from Athens to San Francisco, I watched the Warriors destroy the Spurs. Luckily the Dubs were so far ahead that I could close my eyes before the game was over, which it was by half time. I woke up this morning reasonably refreshed. It was fun to get back to a US sports page. I particularly enjoyed reading Ron Kroichick in the Chronicle. Great article, but I'd like to amend his ending: "So savor the show. It won't last forever." He was talking about the Warriors, but particularly about how the Warriors' brain trust put the team together, drafting smart, taking trading risks, being patient, finding good coaches and GM's. So, my question to Ron is why does it have to end. The ownership is not going anywhere and as long as they're there, the smarts remain solidly in place.

Yes, the names on the backs of the jerseys will change. Sadly, even Steph Curry will age and retire. New numbers from this team will wind up in the rafters, looking down on new players. Will any future Warrior ever be as good as Curry? In some ways, maybe. There will never be as good a shooter. And perhaps there will never be as versatile a player as Draymond Green. But as long as the ownership stays the same, I have no doubt the Golden State Warriors will continue to field championship teams.

Here's a haiku I wrote in Greece

Curry and Durant
Jerseys for sale in Athens
Below the Parthenon

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Odds and Ends

If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it's a damn duck. If a golf club has two female members, and a two black members and is an invitations only membership, and not making any plans to add any more women and people of color, it's a racist and misogynist golf club. Yeah I'm talking about the Augusta National Golf Club: 99% of membership white males. And, really, up to the turn of the century all caddies had to be black? Yes'm masta. What is up with white guys? I'm a white guy and I'm getting really ashamed of my race.  So, I wonder why the golfers over the years haven't brought any real pressure to bear on Augusta? Probably because the vast majority are white. Hey, I wonder are there any Asian members? Am I being sarcastic? You bet.

I'm pulling for Sergio at the Masters. As great a golfer as he is and no majors??? I'll settle for Ricky
Fowler. You gotta love his orange Oklahoma State trousers. Watch out for Rose. The Englishman is so damn steady. 

Baseball season is on its way. Here's an off the wall and little known book of collected stories about baseball called KILL THE AMPAYA!  The Best Latin American Baseball Fiction . Edited and translated by Dick Cluster. Terrific fun read.

Watched Kevin Durant's first game back after injury. Looks like KD will be ready to be the old KD in time for the playoffs. It's going to be real interesting to see how Coach Kerr adjusts his rotations. My wife and I are going to be traveling in Greece during the first round, so I'll have to find a taverna with a TV, but then I might become distracted by a glass of ouzo and a plate of dolmas. Good luck, Dubs!

Teams in the NBA other than the Big Boys that will be better next year, not in any particular order:

1) I like the Suns's young players to mature and become competitive. Booker and Chriss,
     and Bender with a summer to improve.  Lem incrementally better. High energy wide body
     in Williams. One more solid draft choice away, but could surprise even without one.    

2) Portland Blazers. They've finally got a big who can score and protect the paint and a summer to
    find a little more muscle and an effective reserve point guard. 

3) I have to give the Timberwolves some love. They just have too many athletic and talented players
    to continue the status quo. If they can take Thibidaux's gruff personality and accept that they must
    play D for 4 quarters, they're bound to be be contenders for a playoff spot.

4) I'm giving a nod to the Sacramento Kings. A summer of improvement for their young core: Cauley
     Stein, Hield, Labisierre, Richardson, and Papagiannos. They still need a bona fide point guard,
     but even if they have to go with the steady if not brilliant Collison, they should be improved.

5) I don't see much improvement in the East, but will take a chance on Washington Wizards. With
     addition of Bogdanovich to stretch the floor. With a training camp, he might be the difference
     maker for a roster that contains lots of talent. Sometimes it only takes one addition.

6) Philly, but only if Embid comes back healthy and can stay healthy. He is indeed a stud.

Why I Never Played Golf    by Tom Meschery

I din't trust myself. Imagine
losing a match by one stroke
on the eighteenth green, his putt
longer than mine. He sinks it
for a birdie and I sink mine 
for par, and I have my putter
in my hand and a bad temper
and he is smiling at me.
You understand, smiling.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Raiders to Vegas and etc

Our talented sports writer Ailene Voisin in this morning's Sacramento Bee said it succincly, but not as colorffully as I'm about to do: Mark Davis is an ungrateful shithead. Oaklanders should bycott all the games next football season. Do not put one dollar in the asshole's pocket. And, Oakland should sue to keep the Raider name. The Vegas team should be renamed the Los Vegas Dice? Or how about the Los Vegas Strippers? Or how about Los Vegas Hookers? One needs to remember that Los Vegas was built on water they stole from California.

Alas, Mark Orr has left his post as Athletic Director of Saint Mary's College. He will be greatly missed, having done a fabulous job in his nine years at my alma mater. He becomes the AD at Sacramento State University. The school could not have found a better man for the job. You Sacramentans can count on great days ahead for Hornets' sports. First predication: in one year, Mark will announce he has put together the financing of a new multi-purpose arena to house basketball and other sports and events.

UConn Women's basketball team routed the Oregon Duckies. My wife, a Duck grad, is in mourning. It was inevitable. The Lady Huskies are, as usual, awesome. What Gene Auriama is accomplishing with his team, with each win, is making sports history. It needs to be pointed out, and not on the inner pages of the sports' section, that this record win streak is in the same class as the great Bill Russell Celtics, and Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game.

I agree with this morning's observation by Sac Bee's Matt Arrows that Kap, prior to his protest, was an injured player. Is he being blackballed? In this awful political climate with so many of the NFL's owner's conservatives, it's possible, but unlikely. Kap has a lot of football proving to do before teams are going open their pocket books. Let me say, on Kap's behalf, he opens up his pocketbook to support causes he believes in. In this regard, the man walks his talk. At some point in his career, the next team or the team after that, baring injuries, Kap will become an elite QB. Go Kap!

Love the Jeanie and Janie LA Lakers' show. A tough minded female boss, why not? Is Magic the right person? Not a good coach, but maybe a good consultant.

The Sacramento Kings have won two close game against two playoff teams with a team of youngsters and arguably vet non-starteers (on other teams). The youngsters are Buddy Hield, Willy Cauley Stein, Skal Labisiere, and George Papagiannis. One the bench, recovering from injuries, is Malachi Richardson. I do not mean to demean the other guys. They are playing tough and as a team and having fun and listening to their coach. They compete. Bravo.

On to the LIFE section of my Blog: Donald Trump, pay attention. I'm a Russian immigrant. Our family came to the United States after the Second World War. I became an American citizen, gratefully, at the age of sixteen. I love my adopted country. My parents loved their country, Russia, until the Bolsheviks (Communists) took over after the revolution of 1917. Most of my parents' family, my cousins and Granndpa and other kin, were executed by the Communists. Vladimir Putin is a Communist and an ex KGB agent. If you think he suddenly became a believer in democracy, I'd like to sell you the Golden Gate Bridge. If you and your minions are working with this Communist sonavabitch, in any shape or form, you are TRAITORS to the United States of America and should be imprisoned. 

Before ski season ends, here's a small poem I've always gotten a chuckle over.

Winter Trees  by Conrad Diekmann

I think that I shall never ski
Again against so stout a tree.

A tree whose rugged bark is pressed
In bas-relief upon my chest.

A tree that with bacchantic air
Wears ski poles in its tangle hair.

I've learned my lesson: Fools like me
Should never try to shave a tree.