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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, February 17, 2018

Thank You, Television Executives and Advertiser.

I want to thank the TV and Ad execs for allowing some space between commercials for Olympic events coverage. I also want to congratulate them for adding the split screen to allow even more time for selling their products.  However, don't you think devoting the larger of the screens to product sales is a little excessive, that maybe, just maybe, some of us out in TV land might accuse you of being greedy. Say it isn't so.

Hurrah for Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors for stating the truth about our non-existent gun laws. Congress, listen up, drop Trump's Great Wall of Foolishness, that will keep nobody out and mire us even further in irreversible national debt. Do what's right, and pass laws that outlaw automatic weapons of any kind. Stand up to the NRA for once in your cowardly lives.

Now to sports, unless defeating Republican senators and congressmen in November can be called a sport. I kinda like that idea.

Now back to sports, really: Got to give a lot of love to the aerial skiers. Unbelievable athletic moves and courage. Just a reminder, remember when we thought such antics on skis and on skate boards were just hippie passing fads? Men and women boarders and skiers in baggy trousers, making weird signs with their hands, hip hop invading the sanctity of winter sports. Well they invaded, evolved, and proved they're not a passing fad. Good on them!

NBA Saturday Night: Lot's of fine messages about brother and sisterhood, inclusiveness, free speech, fairness. NBA is no doubt the most progressive of our professional sports leagues. Commissioners Stern and Silver had it right from the start. Bravo to you two men. And bravo to the players who stand tall in the face of White House fascism.

Booker and Thompson in finals of 3 point shooting contest seemed inevitable. Congrats to Booker.
I thought that Larry Nance Jr honoring his All Star dad by imitating the dunks he used to win the dunk contest back in his day was, well, honorable.I also thought Donavan Mitchell, going retro with uniforms and 360 degree Vince Carter dunk was also an honorable way of honoring past players.
Congrats to Nance for winning, but, it my mind, it was a photo-finish.

Wish I had space or inclination to comment on more of the Olympic sports, but I have other things to do and miles and miles to go before I sleep. However, before I nod off, I suggest people should watch Merit Bjoergan in the Biathlon. She has a chance of surpassing the 13 medal record of fellow Norwegian, Ole Elnar Bjoerndalen and become the King of Biathlon, or should I say, the Queen? If you don't know what Biatholon is, look it up, it's a grueling test of physical stamina and mental control.

Oh, and lest I forget, the ski jumpers were magnificent. If they spread out any lower, they'll be below their skis.

Oh, and lest I forget, lots of luck to Erin Jackson, the first African-American woman to compete in speed skating. Take that Fox News!

Oh, and lest I forget, is there any doubt that Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham is a racist? 

In honor of speed skating, I offer this poem I wrote that is in my collection: Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports

Short Track Speed Skating

Like second hands,
the skaters spin around the ice
in a crouch, arms swinging
back and forth, like pendulums
until two break away:
One silver, one gold

So close to each other.
No truer alchemy exists than this:
with one frozen circle left,
metal to metal, they kiss,
setting off sparks, and fall,
as all lovers must who dare 
to be so intimate, so fast. 



Olympics and etc

I guarantee you our highly mentally disturbed president is not enchanted with the Olympics, you know, like, ah, man, how do I deal with these different colored athletes competing together, sharing lives together, embracing, honoring each other? I can hear his little weeny brain asking: You mean they actually respect each other? How can Trump possibly understand, coming from a lily-white, closeted environment of the super rich, and how absolutely color blind the world of sports is today? Probably, he wasn't watching the Olympics anyway, having embraced the recent statement of Fox News' Exec VP, John Moody, that there are just too many gays, coloreds, etc in the Olympics. By the way, how come Fox News hasn't fired that bigot and racist? Oh, yeah, I forgot, it's Fox "Klan" News.

Speaking of non-whites, did anyone see the performance of  Japan's Yazuru Hanyu's flawless and exquisite short program and his Gold winning performance on the ice last night? What an athlete! Both nights Winnie the Poohs by the hundreds sailed down from the stands onto the ice as he took his bows. And this young man's performance took nothing away from the three skaters who followed him onto the rink, his fellow Japanese teammate, Shona Ono (Silver) and the marvelously elegant Spaniard, Javier Fernandez (Bronze). All of them were Baryshnikovs on ice.

Sorry to see Mikela not make it to the podium in the slalom, but she won a courageous Gold the day before in the giant slalom. Let's hear it for the redhead Shawn White. What an athlete. As a team sports guy, I've always been impressed by the focus of individual sports athletes. On a team you always have your teammates to motivate you during the game. The skiers, the luge riders, the snowboarders, the cross country skiers, the jumpers, once the event starts, they're on their own. Individual sports are lonely sports that require amazing will power and the kind of physical and mental meditation of a Zen master. 

Lindsey Vonn gave it her best shot in the Super G but no medal. But in my mind she gets a medal for heroic comeback. Heroic comeback award also to Nathan Chin, who's short program mistakes were painful to watch, but his long program performance showed he'd be back in four years for another attempt at the podium.

Got to love the courage of our Warrior coach, Steve Kerr to stand up to the NRA. When will our politicians ever have the courage of Lindsey Vonn, and legislate into law a truthful and effective gun law? Perhaps  we should all pray for one. Praying and grieving seems to be all they are capable of doing for these poor slaughtered children.

I love how the poet connects the grace of swooping swallows to ice skaters in the following poem:

The Skaters    by John Gould Fletcher

Black Swallows swooping or gliding
In a flurry of entangled loops and curves;
The skaters skim over the frozen river,
And he grinding click of their skates
as they impinge upon the surface
Is like the brushing together of thin
Wing-tips of silver upon the surface 



Saturday, February 10, 2018

2018 Trade Deadline and Etc

Isaiah Thomas may be 5'10" but he has a 6 '10" ego. Can't fit in with LeBron, whines about Coach Lue and has made it clear that he is not going to come off the bench as a Laker. Isaish, that cute little face is not going to help you get any love from your coaches and GM's if you become a pain in the ass.

Cav's got better. George Hill is a professional with a capital P, steady in all areas. LeBron will love him, and we know it's all about the King in Cleveland.  The Lakers will regret giving up Nance. He may not be a shooter, but he is a scorer. He can also defend three positions and rebound. Hood is also a young addition, and I've always thought lefties have an edge.

Boston helped themselves by acquiring Greg Monroe. Monroe is a solid 5 who can score, and defends reasonably well. I can see Monroe at the 5 and Horford at the 4. .

My Warriors abstained, going with the guys they have. Jordon Bell needs to get back pronto. 

Lakers are drooling over Paul George. I'm guessing their interest in LeBron is a smokescreen.

The Kings cleared cap space and got rid of Papagianis, who had the foot speed of a tortoise. Iman Schmpart is not that old and if he could stay healthy (certainly  not a given), he could be part of the young King's guns.

Happy to see D Wade back with the Heat. I don't think it is just ceremonial. Wade is 38 and has still got game.

ETC: Football news that the 49ers signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a five year contract for $137,5 million, which is 7.5 million more that Tom Brady whose understudy Jimmy G was for a number of years. Learning from the Master??? Given Garoppolo's performance in the last four games with the 49ers at the end of the season, it appears that the young QB learned well. However, with a capital H,
this does not add up to any track record. The amount seems absurd given we have no idea how Jimmy will perform over a season. I get it, that the 49ers, evaluating, came to the conclusion that this would not be a gamble. I hope they are right. I'm a 49ers fan. But, something, about this amount of money bothers me. It reminds me of the NBA some years back allowing teams to sign high school players to any amount of money team wished. In a number of case, these contracts were larger than proven vets, such as Michael Jordan. It is not exactly the same, I grant you, but what if the young QB
stumbles? Then what? Cross our fingers this doesn't happen. Amen.

Musings about Life: I am deeply offended by General Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff defending White House staff secretary, Rob Porter, a wife beater. (The evidence is overwhelming.) This coming off a number of deeply offensive statements Kelly previously made such as saying the Dreamers were "too lazy to get off their asses." Lazy? Lazy? Give me a break! The vast majority of these kids are studying hard in high school or college or working and paying taxes and struggling to succeed. You know where these Dreamers get their work ethic, General? They get their work ethic from their parents, illegal immigrants who pick our fruits and vegetable in the blazing sun, who mow lawns and haul trash and nail shingles, and wash the dishes in restaurants for peanuts,  jobs unemployed whites don't want or won't do. Take a survey of whites if you don't believe it. And, out of their hard earned money, these immigrants, parents of the Dreamers, send a portion of their meager pay back home to their families in Mexico and other central American countries. Who the *uck are the lazy ones?

This is a NFL poem, but it is about much more

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 quarterback 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 speak English very well. 
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 at the most unpleasant 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 Jaime - Jimmy in Ingles,
but I don't speak his language well enough. 





Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hss Small Ball Maxed Out?

 It is not a Tsunami change as the one that turned the game into a Small Ball game, but a wave of some significance that is breaking back on itself and renewing the importance of the Center, The Five, the Post, the Big to the NBA.

To begin with, here's the history: Professional basketball started out Small Ball in 1925 with the creation of the American Basketball League with a bunch of vertically challenged swift Jewish and Irish guys in constant motion, passing and cutting. By the end of the Forties, along came George Miken of the Minneapolis Lakers. Small Ball turned into Tall Ball. Back to the basket Bigs dominated the game: Chamberlain, Russell, Lanier, The Chief, Jabbar, Shaq, etc. This trend had a long life span, until the Heat put together King James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosch and introduced the NBA to Small Ball. The Warriors took small ball to its logical conclusion, with Draymond Green often playing the five and protecting the paint and, perhaps, every other spot on the court.

As the world turns, it is my belief that the league is finding its way back to the Bigs.  

Really, you say. How is that? you ask. 

Yes, it is, with the following caveat: The Bigs must be athletic, some will be able to shoot threes, all will provide scoring. In the Western Conference, for example, there is Cappela of Houston, Adams of OKC, Gobbert of the Utah Jazz, Cousins (he's a lot faster than he's given credit for) and Davis with the Pelicans, Karl-Anthony Towns of the TWolves, DeAndre Jordon (I wish he could shoot freethrows), Jokic of Denver, with reservations, and Willy Cauly Stein if he grows into his potential.

In the East, there is Joel Embid who certainly fits this model. In addition, it appears that there are a number of athletic Bigs (6'11", 7', 7.1") in this years college draft - young though they are - guys that can run, not lumber, shoot from distance, protect the rim, grab boards, and in general make things very difficult for penetrators. For example, if the Warriors had any of the above mentioned Western Conference Bigs, such as Adams, they would be NBA champs until Curry grew a gray beard?

NBA teams will not be able to win Championships much longer playing Small Ball. The future champions will have to have at least one significant athletic seven-footer.who can provide some scoring and lots of paint protection and muscle.Even in some cases shoot threes and play perimeter D in the case of a switch.

It's Black History Month and a poem written by African American Quincy Troupe

poem for My Fathers; for Quincy Troupe, Sr.

father, it was an honor to be there in the dugout
with you, the glory of great black men swinging their lives
as bats at tiny white balls
burning in at unbelievable speeds, riding up & in & out
a curve falling off the table, moving away screwing its stitched
magic into chitlin circuit air, its comma seams spinning
towards break down, dipping, like a hipster
bebopping a knee-dip stride in the charlie parker forties
wrist curing behind a "slick" black back
like a swan's neck, cupping
an invisible ball of dreams -

father, & you there regal as an african obeah man sculpted
out of wood, from a tree of no name no place origin
thick roots branching down into cherokee & someplace else lost
way back in africa, the sap running dry
crossing from north carolina, into goergia, in grandmother mary's womb
your mother in the violence of that red soil, ink blotter
gone now into blood graves of american news sponging
rococo truth dead & long gone as dinosaurs
the agent-oranged landscape of former names
absent of polysyllables, dry husk consonants there
nor, in their place, flat as polluted rivers
& that guitar string smile always snaking across virulent
american red neck faces scorching, like atomic
heat mushrooming over nagaski & hiroshima
those fever blistered shadows of it all
inked into sizzling concrete

but you there father, a yardbird solo riffin on
bat & ball glory, breaking down the fabricated myths 
of white major league legends, of who was better
than who, beating them at their own crap
game with killer bats, as bud powell swung his silence into beauty
of a josh gibson home run, skittering across the piano keys
of bleachers, shattering all fabricated legends there in lights
struck-out white knights running the risky edge of amazement
awe, the miraculous truth sluicing through
steeped in the blues, confluencing like the point
at the cross between a fastball disguised as a curve
sliding away in a wicked sly grin, posed as an ass scratching
uncle tom, like satchel paige delivering his hesitation pitch,
then coming back with a hard high fast one
quicker than a professional hit-
man, the deadlines of it all, the strike
like that of the brown bomber's or sugar 
ray robinson's lightning, cobra bite

& you there father, catching rhythms of chano pozo
balls, drumming into your catcher's mitt
fast as "cool papa" bell jumping into bed
before the lights went out

of the old negro baseball league, a promise
of harbinger, of shock waves, soon to come.







Monday, February 5, 2018

Philly Cheese Steak, Pretzels, and Roasted Chestnuts on Chestnut Street

Howrah for Philly for winning the Super Bowl! Indeed it was Super. They have not always been. I had a friend, George Gutikunst, now departed, the garrulous owner of the Five Star restaurant Ondine's in Sausalito, CA that used to host Stupid Bowl parties. He would have not called this fabulous struggle stupid.

Having got my start in the NBA as the Philadelphia Warriors first round draft choice in 1961 and having become addicted to cheese steaks, hot pretzels with mustard, and roasted chestnuts, how could I not cheer for Philly? Besides, Patriots owner and Tom Brady voted for Trump. They deserved to lose. I sure hope Trump was watching the commercials that featured tons of people of color and racially mixed couples. The future is all about blending, Trump baby, suck it up!

The personal story, of course, is Foles, Philly quarterback, who almost quit the game, but came back and took over for injured starter, and superb leader, Carson Wentz. And take over he did, in spades, directing four quarters of seamless football.  With his performance in the playoffs, and in the Super Bowl, Nick Foles earned the right to be the circus master of his own NFL team. The Eagles are ethically required to give this young man the right to negotiate with other clubs, many in dire need of quarterback leadership. Go Nick, we old Philly Warriors are on your side. I can imagine my dear Philly Warriors teammates and Philly natives, Wilt Chamberlain, Tom Gola, Paul Arizon and Guy Rodgers cheering wildly from their heavenly homes as you guided your Eagles down field for that last touchdown.

Was Robert DeNiro in the stands? He should have been. Oops, I forgot DeNiro is banned from Eagles games. DeNiro's son, Bradley Cooper, was in attendance, sitting with the Eagles team owner.

As soon as I finish this blog, I'm heading to my nearest Cheese Steak joint. It won't be a Philly sandwich, but I think flying to the City of Brotherly Love for lunch might be taking the victory too seriously.

The Super Bowl deserves a football poem. Here's one of the funniest poem about the pigskin sport that I've ever read. If it doesn't look like a poem for those who don't read much poetry, no worries, it's called a prose-poem.

Football   by Louis Jenkins

I take the snap from center, fake to the right, fade back. . . 
I've got protection. I've got a receiver open down field. . . 
What the hell is this? This isn't a football, it's a shoe, a man's
brown leather oxford. A cousin to a football maybe, the same
skin, but not the same, a think made for the earth, not the air.
I realize that this sis a world where anything is possible and I
understand, also, that one often has to make do with what one
has. I have eaten pancakes, for instance, with that clear corn
syrup on them because there was no maple syrup and they
weren't very good. Well, anyway, this is different. (My man
downfield is waving his arms.) One has certain responsibili-
ties, one had to make choices. This isn't right and I'm not go-
ing to throw it.