Saturday, June 27, 2015

Random Thoughts at pbi

Last night my cat hit the late bars and did not saunter back to the house until 1:10 am.  Since I usually am either asleep or very ready at 11, this meant that I was a sour and sleepy fellow when I heard his "meow" by the screen door.  I had camped on the couch with the slider open and just the screen closed, knowing that his m.o. when he comes back is to squeal for entrance.  So, I waited and he meowed, and I felt that this is how it must feel to be a parent and wait for your kid who has broken curfew and not called.  Half fury, half love.  Cat walks in like he has not been a delinquent.  Little miffed that he had to meow more than once before I got up from the couch.  I go upstairs and can't get to sleep, start watching an old movie. Probably got three hours of zs before the Pump came upstairs to sit on my head.

So that was last night.

Now I sit at West Palm Beach airport waiting room about 24 hours after Pumpkin came back from his shenanigans.  I am meeting my brother here and his plane is late.  Storms in Charlotte where he connected.  He is not due for another 45 minutes. He, however--unlike my cat--has a decent excuse.

Interesting scene here at 1:05 am.  There is a waiting area like none I have ever seen.  It is not extravagant, just set up like executive seats at a ballgame. Big glass windows separating those waiting from those parading by looking exhausted from their travels.  Nice comfy seats.

Odd assortment of those waiting.  I am guessing about half the people here are also waiting for the Charlotte flight which, I imagine, is the last one of the day.  But in addition, there are at least two people who are here early for a morning flight.  Can't quite figure out why someone would get here at 1 for even a 5 am flight unless they wanted to beat the hotel expense.  Neither of the parties with bags look like they are one per centers.  But at 1 in the morning, who does.

I wonder when the last time was when I stayed up until 1 am. for two consecutive days.  This is typically around when I get up for the first time and do the sober man's drunk-like stumble to the bathroom.  Actually, probably more like 2 when that takes place, but who knows what time it is; I am half asleep when I roll out.  I think the last time I stayed up until 1 two days in a row I was in college.  When I think about habits at that time, I marvel that my stomach has not quit.  The boys would go out to imbibe and then at 2 when the bars closed would pack into someone's vehicle for scrambled eggs and sausage at an all night diner that should have been condemned before Japan surrendered.  I did note that the last time I was back in Albany that it was no longer open--the shack falling apart--but it was no sturdy building at the time.

To entertain those waiting, there is a tv playing CNN at a volume that could wake up those dead for several years.  It is impossible to read in this waiting room with the decibel level.  The stories that repeat on CNN suggest how we have not evolved a whole hell of a lot.  One of the two killers who escaped from prison in the New York north country has been shot. The other is on the loose.  President Obama has delivered a eulogy because once again, some sick, stupid, racist puke, decided it was high time to kill black people because they are black.  Three terrorist attacks--apparently coordinated--took place in other countries this morning.  And gays have been granted the right to marry by only one vote.  5-4.  Four supreme court justices voted against civil rights.  The vitriol in their dissents will be something that will stain their grandchildren.

Ages ago I dated a woman who told me she could easily be a night person.  I knew right then we would never click.  She said she could stay up until 4 or 5 or even 6, then sleep until noon and start again.  Nothing wrong with that if that is what you like.  You might have some trouble getting a bite to eat around 4, however, unless you live in Manhattan or Dewey's Diner in Albany makes a comeback.  West Palm Beach airport has nothing open. Not a thing. And meanwhile, I have trod through Boston's hoo hah big city airport when a flight has come in late and it is not exactly hopping there either. Boston, for a big city, closes pretty tight at around 11.

Independence day looms.  Ironic that it is only if we have love and are connected that we can truly be independent.

Friday, June 26, 2015

daddy bush

W's dad is often cited by my liberal friends as, compared to his scion, a decent president.

Well it depends on how you define decent.

A couple of points to be made and then a coda.

There were two major decisions that Bush senior made that were unconscionable.

The first was selecting Dan Quayle-- a prep boy without much between the ears-- to be his vice presidential candidate. Quayle was more than a lightweight.  He didn't realize he was a lightweight. He had less substance even than W as strange as that might seem. Yet daddy Bush picked Quayle as his number 2 knowing, of course, that in the event of sudden death this vapid child would be the president.

The second unconscionable move--in my opinion--was worse.  When Thurgood Marshall left the court Bush picked Clarence Thomas as his successor.  Thomas may be a bright man--he seemed impressive during the controversial hearing--but the man since he has been on the court has been a mannequin. He never speaks, always, always, votes with the conservatives--he is just about 250 pounds of a guaranteed anti-progressive vote. Yesterday Thomas voted, go figure, against Obama-care. Today, go-figure--he voted against same sex marriage. I don't think he is a conservative ideologue. I think he is a statue.  If there was a liberal who behaved like him I would be equally displeased.  When a president appoints a supreme court justice, that president is appointing, for life, someone who will dispassionately be an arbiter in the most important cases that face this democracy. Bush was willing to imperil the democracy by nominating a non thinker. That Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall is, as my grandmother would have said, a shonda.

The coda: I thought I recalled--and then checked--Bush served as the head of the Republican National Committee during the second Nixon administration. Eventually, Bush did suggest that Nixon resign for the good of the party, but was a Nixon apologist for years.  If you are old enough to remember Watergate and have not been drugged by repeated revisionist history narratives from Fox news types--you knew Nixon was culpable as early as the fall of 1973.  Unless you did not want to see, you knew that Nixon was involved in a conspiracy to obstruct justice--even if you did not buy that he was a weasel as early as the 1952 Checkers speech.  Bush was a puppet of, and then an apologist for, a president who steered this country in an unethical direction that we are still trying to redirect.

Yes, Daddy was better than W in terms of overall work. W bankrupted us, was asleep at the wheel when terrorists destroyed the world trade center, and took a mind boggling myopic approach to addressing the terrorists--(let's attack someone else), and in 8 years could not find bin Laden.

But Daddy knew better than to appoint Clarence Thomas to the supreme court and put us at risk with Danny, I can't spell tomato, Quayle.  Quayle is history, but Thomas will "weigh in" on important matters for decades, and weigh down our democracy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It's Binary

Today is a day that many in New England have been waiting for.  Later this morning, Tom Brady will appeal his suspension and defend his contention that he did not cheat during the NFL playoffs last year.

All fans in New England are rooting for Brady.  An article in this morning's Globe put it well, "The turn to Brady for their team's absolution."  A little grand perhaps--it is only football--but the passion for sports and the following of the Patriots is great.  Nobody likes to have the joy of victory diluted by claims that the win was sullied.  One of my fiercest tennis competitors in the days back when I was playing, still seethes when he recalls a hard fought play off win when we were teammates.  This guy was a fighter and he managed by skill, wit, energy, and industry to defeat a stronger player in a teeming facility nearby.  The last point was a shot by the opponent that was close, but long.  My pal called it--appropriately--out, winning the match.  The opponent sneered, rolled his eyes, and asserted that it was a bum call.  Despite the victory, my friend felt as if his win had been stained. And that is how New England fans felt after the championship game and after the superbowl, when those in other cities attributed the championship to some sort of chicanery.

So now the hopes here are that Brady will refute the report, exonerate himself and the Patriots, and make us who follow the team feel as if we earned our joy.

The case, as I see it, is binary.  Either Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner has Brady by the short hairs or he doesn't.  If he does, and I think he might because otherwise I can not fathom why the NFL has done what it has done, then Brady goes home with his head between his legs and I have to hear from every Jet fan in the world that we, the Patriots, are a bunch of cheaters.  When I was in Florida a month or so back and walked into the condo cafe some guy I did not know, saw my Patriots tee shirt and shouted through the breakfast chatter, "Guilty."  I have a high school buddy who regularly drops e-mails in my box asserting that the Pats are thieves.

That chorus will be muted if Goodell does not have a smoking gun. And then Goodell is cooked and history.  The Wells report that is the basis for the suspension seems flawed even to someone like me who was never aces in physics.  The tests used different gauges, did not take into consideration the effects of inside/outside temperatures, and tested the two teams' footballs at different intervals allowing one set to warm up before measuring air pressure.  Do you have to have a Ph.D. in Physics to realize that the tests could not have been conclusive?

So, to me, the only way this suspension makes sense is if Goodell has information that suggests that Brady deliberately tried to skirt the rule to gain an advantage.

Of course I don't know Roger Goodell.  For his sake I hope he has a smoking gun.  Because if he does not, he has no way out and will smell for the rest of his life.   I'm always a little skeptical of nepotism.  If you are from New York you may remember Goodell's father, Charlie Goodell.  The dad was a courageous politician,  a Republican taking on Nixon and the Vietnam War during the first Nixon administration.  If memory serves he was such an outspoken critic that Republican loyalists would go to their mini conventions and croon, "Goodbye Charlie Goodell--You are going to hell."
And Goodell made an attempt in 1970 to maintain his senate seat running against Richard Ottinger and James Buckley.  Problem was that Goodell was a liberal Republican running without the endorsement of Nixon.  Ottinger was a liberal democrat. And Buckley was a conservative with the tacit endorsement of Nixon.  So, Ottinger and Goodell split the liberal vote, and James Buckley, running on the snooty campaign slogan, "Isn't it about time we had a senator" became the senator from New York.

But I admired Goodell's courage.  He stood up to Nixon when it cost him to do so.

His son, I don't get.  I wonder how much of a leg up he got because of his dad's background. What he has done with the so called Deflategate case really is mind boggling UNLESS he has a picture of Brady with a kangaroo.

But if he has a picture of Brady with a kangaroo, Brady and his team must know it.  And if they do, they are really risking peril and image by appealing the case.  If Goodell is just waiting for Brady to squawk before he says, "Wait a minute fellas, I got something you want to hear and see" then Brady is cooked.  Yet even in this scenario, why wouldn't Goodell just have pulled Brady aside and said, "Look Tom, I have this evidence.  Take your suspension and go quietly or else you are really going to look bad."

Again, it is binary.  If Goodell does not have the goods on Brady, the commissioner will be out of a job by the end of this year.  If Brady is innocent, then nothing short of total exoneration will be accepted.  Even if Goodell cops a "Well, now you are telling me something I did not know before," Goodell is cooked.

My best sense from my perch as a Patriots fan and general sense of human nature is that one of these two guys does not come out of this looking like he did before he went in.  And I don't think Brady would put his image on the line if he knew that there was scalding evidence out there.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Souls at Night

Kent Haruf wrote a series of novels about a small town in Colorado that he calls Holt.  Our Souls at Night, recently completed, is the last of these books. It is the last because Kent Haruf passed away shortly after finishing this story.  I read a review just last week of the short novel and in it the wife of Haruf is referred to as having said that he, Haruf, better not die before he finishes writing. Apparently he adhered to her demand.

I've enjoyed every one of the Holt novels.  Soft, easy to read, revealing human nature in a way that seems so spot on.

This novel may be the most beautiful one of all.  The only issue I have with it is that the end seems incomplete and I suspect that the author was dying faster than he could write.

The title, Our Souls at Night, has a double meaning.  On the surface it refers to what Addie Moore proposes to Louis Waters, a neighbor, one evening. They are both widowed and nearing or just over 70.  Moore walks two houses over to Waters' house and asks if he would consider spending the night with her--not for sexual intimacy--but to share the darkness, just talk, and dull the pain of loneliness.

He agrees and begins to visit several nights a week and then nearly every night. And there in bed they lie and speak of their children, their now dead partners, and their mistakes--exposing their souls at night.

There is more to the story than this. There is a son in a difficult marriage, a grandchild, and the gossip of a small town, but the story is really about these two exposed souls at night. A step below this surface, magnified by the real life dying of Haruf, is the metaphor of night as last stage of life.  Addie and Moore in the evening of their lives.  At the end what do we reveal about our soul.

It really is a beautiful book.

The end is disappointing because the story takes a twist and you have the sense that he just did not have the energy to resolve that twist as he would have liked.

You don't have to be a big reader to enjoy this book.  Short, simply written and touching.  Highly recommended.  You don't have to be familiar with the previous Holt books to enjoy this one either.  In the other ones, the author brings back characters from prior stories. Not this time. There is only one page that refers to something that readers of his novels will get, but it is not central to this story.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


In the room that I loosely refer to as my study----a term I employ I know because my dad used the same label to refer to the tiny place where his desk sat----in my study there is a reclining chair.

I bought it several years ago on sale at Macy's. It was really a bargain. It doesn't match anything in the house--and is not nearly as attractive as the stressless chair I once splurged for that now, against my will but consistent with my dispassionate judgment, sits in our basement.  The stressless chair has been reassigned to the basement because it is "shot to hell" (another of dad's phrases) and I no longer could muster much of an argument regarding why this blight should remain in our living room even if it was the most comfortable chair ever.

Back to the other chair in the study.  It is big and green and it reclines back in three positions.  Its green is the kind of green that explains why Macy's had it sitting in a room with several orphans of less than "buy me" hues.  Sort of like crab apple green.  Still it is a comfortable chair and when I saw it I knew I would get little grief about buying a crab apple green chair because I intended to put it in a corner of my study which would be off everybody's beat, except mine.  It is hardly the worst looking recliner I have bought. Once in Buffalo, I bought a recliner at a garage sale.  I loved it. It had one of those buzzer gizmos that would make it shake if you switched it on. But it really was disheveled. I brought a girlfriend up to the room once and when she took a glance at that thing, I swear my stock went down like a rock.

Back to the green chair. I am not sitting in it now. Rather I am sitting on a swivel chair I bought at Office Depot for writing on my computer. It also allows me to swivel 90 degrees to address the mounds of items on my desk that need, on Saturday morning, attention so that one could see the bottom of the desk top.  I marvel on Saturday mornings at how such varied items get to the top of my desk. A quick glance 90 degrees to my right, right now, and I see my car keys--that makes sense sort of--but an empty shoebox, a coaster, one of those neck braces you buy in an airport that never helps me sleep but I bought once on a long trip.  I think I did not deposit that brace there, but it has made its way to my desk when Donna in a--I-give-up, I-find-this-thing-in-every-room-in-the-house moment picked it up, deposited on my desk with an invisible note--"you bought it. find a place for this already."    I see a coffee cup and a shot glass--an odd juxtaposition except I know that they did not arrive concurrently.  There are several pieces of paper that are in something of a to-do pile. Other stuff too.

The desk is not alone in its function of a repository for items on Saturday that need to be picked up. You could, if you were so inclined, determine exactly what I wore to work this week by picking up the various slacks and jackets here and there.  You might not be able to match them up, but you could tell that I wore certain pants and shirts. You'd have to guess to figure out what went with what, but it's all there, as are the shoes of the week, and at least one hanger that in my haste to yank a shirt out of the closet fell on the rug.

But back to the green reclining chair and the reason for this sobering blog.

Sometimes, like this morning, I awaken very early and I know that if I try a number of ploys I might be able to go back to sleep.  Some of my tricks are head games like, who are the teams in the American Football Conference. If I am still awake when I can rattle them off, I think of the quarterbacks for the teams. If that does not work, I try to recall if I have ever been to the cities where the teams play. Games like these will sometimes help me find the zs.  Others too.  Who was on the 25 man roster for the 1969 Met World Series?  Stuff like that.

The trick that works the best is reading.  If I pick up a book that I've remembered to put by the bed, attempt to maneuver the little personal light that I can attach to the book, and read a few pages, usually I can get to a point when my lids get heavy.  Problem sometimes is I forget to put the book by the bed and I don't want to get up and go look around for it. Also, the little gizmo personal light has to be just right or there is not enough light to read. When we bought the sconces above the bed we thought we were buying the kind that could be switched on individually. The electrician told us we were incorrect when he installed them which may be true, or it may be that he could not figure out how to do it.  Anyway if I put the sconces on, everybody's reading.

So, the chair, and my somber mood.

This, what happened this morning, happens every single time.

I am in bed, I decide to read to go back to sleep, I don't have the book near the bed, and don't want to deal with the tiny lighting gizmo anyway.  I decide to get up, get the book and sit on the green recliner in the room across the hall, and read. I figure only ten pages might do it. I'll be ready to snooze by 5 am. dropping my head into the book at about 455.   I imagine myself sitting in the alcove and reading.

Except the chair is not in the alcove. About two years ago, my buddy Kenny was up and we moved the chair. It used to be in the alcove, now it is adjacent to the desk facing an old tv set I have perched up in another corner of the "study."

Yet every single time I think of sitting in the chair I imagine sitting in the alcove.  Every single time.

So big deal.

It 's not a big deal, except at 4am it seems to be.

Things are not as they were. Time elapses.  And loved ones are not where they had been for years. Parents, friend, sweetheart, family.  The google map of your personal universe is not in place. The movie theatre is now a CVS. Your parents are dead.  The candy store is now a Dunkin Doughnuts. You can't sit in that chair, because that chair is not there.  Ciri can tell you where it is if you want to dial her up, but you can figure it out yourself.  It is the realization that filial, fraternal, and emotional love is not where it was and realization of where it is--not the ignorance of where it is--that makes returning to slumber a challenge. Yo Boychik. The chairs are not there.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Today I overheard someone comment while looking at the picture of the racist murderer whose sad mug was on page one of the Boston Globe.  "I wonder if he had ever been bullied" was the comment.

Here is my response.

I do not care if he was bullied or sexually molested or burnt with the ends of cigarettes.

He is a racist gutless punk.

We are all victims of something.  Some of us are more fortunate than others, but we all have a tale.  Victimization however grand is not in any way exculpatory. It is not your ticket to being inconsiderate to others or a get out of jail free card.  It doesn't excuse even minor transgressions never mind the outlandish behavior of a gutless murderer. It doesn't excuse racist jokes let alone promulgating a philosophy of racial superiority.

This mean putz is said to have wanted to initiate a race war.  We should care if he was once bullied?

The rhetoric of victimization is not good for anybody not even for the alleged victim.  Your politics may be such that you do not like our current President, but one thing you have to admire about him is that he never whines about the cards he was dealt.  No father present, raised by grandparents, mother shleps him to Indonesia, father shows up for a cup of coffee, father leaves and then dies, mother dies early, and oh yes, he is black in a country that has a horrific history of subjugating blacks.  So he becomes a law professor and then the president of the strongest country in the world, enduring an adversarial party for 8 years that seeks out blemishes in attempts to besmirch him.  You don't hear Obama whine.

There is no condoning what the cowardly murderer did.  No tale of victimization can mitigate the offense.  We all have the same challenge in our time before the sand leaves the glass.  Be kind to others, love, and seize the days.  And if you do not do that and want to cop an excuse that your abilities have been disabled because of some flavor of victimization, join the gutless club to which the killer has secure membership.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Game 6. Five to One

"Five to one baby. One in Five. No one here gets out alive."

So crooned Jim Morrison. He was not referring to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but last evening the Cavs proved that a team with one player cannot defeat a team with five.

In the final analysis I was correct with my series' predictions.  After the first game when the Cavs almost stole one but blew it, I wrote that the Cavs could not bounce back from the devastating loss.  I was wrong about that.  The Cavs did win and played courageously in Game 2 and 3.  However, as I also wrote after Game 3, the Cavaliers were spent after that victory.  LeBron James was playing 45 minutes a game and was no wallflower during the contests. He had the ball in his hands all the time and he rebounded better than anyone else on the court. So he was busy. And even a super player like he is, is bound to get tired.  A one man team in the NBA is not going to get out of a Finals series alive.

Some final observations:

  • JR Smith may not always play like this, but he did not play intelligently throughout the series. Very foolish fouls, bad decisions, just played like a knucklehead--and besides he did not really get hot throughout.  Some flashes last night, but after it was too late.
  • I have never seen anyone shoot like Stephen Curry.
  • How can one explain how Iguodala can stick the three, but can't make a foul shot.
  • The big Russian can play and if the Cavaliers had one or two other players besides James who could score, the Russian's size and finishing power would have made him a very significant asset.
  • Not sure Love would have made a big difference, but Kyrie Irving might have.
  • Steve Kerr is a rookie coach who won, but I think a lot of credit has to go to Mark Jackson for two reasons. When Jackson took over the Warriors they were horrible. Immediately they became winners. Then he was fired.  Word was that he was fired because of problems getting along with players and his large sized ego. But as a broadcaster in this game he never once made a peep as if he should get at least some credit for the team's success. And from my vantage point, he should have been at least acknowledged.  On the contrary, Jackson gave credit to Kerr for winning over the locker room an allusion to how Jackson himself did not.  Doesn't sound too egotistical to me. And Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are excellent commentators.  
  • What LeBron James did taking the Cavs to six games given that the other players were really not that good is a testament to just how great he is.  Some comments by Jackson suggested that James needed "to find it" somewhere when he was tired because the great ones do just that. As I just wrote, I think Jackson is an excellent commentator, but I think he is wrong with the "find it" sentiment.  James had no help. Jordan had Pippin, Bird had Parish and McHale, West had Baylor and Chamberlain, Russell had Cousy and then Havlicek.  James had borscht.
  • Blatt as well as Kerr did a good job coaching.
  • If you are going to give the MVP to a winner, it should have been Curry. Iguodala was great, but Curry was the most valuable player.
  • Barbosa can still play.  He is fun to watch.
  • Tristan Thompson played as well as he can play.
  • Klay Thompson can play a lot better. This, you may recall, is the guy who scored 37 points in one quarter this year.
  • I am sorry the season is over. Next year, I hope the Cavs can put it together and--to invoke The Doors again--break on through to the other side

Monday, June 15, 2015

Game 5- gjhe, shto, kto. Eto fcyo.

When I was completing sixth grade my parents received a letter from the junior high school.  I had to sign up for foreign language study in 7th grade.  We had to make first, second, and third choices.

All the popular kids were signing up for French.  Therefore, to remain or become popular, I decided that French would be for me and figured that would be a done deal.  This was the background for a battle royale at home.  My folks decided that there was relatively limited value in studying French. France was on the way out as a super power. On the other hand, this was the early 60s and the cold war was getting colder daily.  In a year, Kennedy would make his famous Cuban Missile Crisis speech telling Khrushchev to stop bringing missiles to a hostile neighbor.  The US was already competing in what was dubbed a space race with the Russians, and there was talk of building "fallout" shelters in case we were bombed by the enemy.

With this as background and argument, my folks decided that I would study Russian.


"But Dad" I countered. "Only the geeks are taking Russian."

This was not a persuasive argument.  And the discussion became heated.  I did not know a Russian verb from a French noun. What I knew was that the pretty young women in my class were all taking French and nobody, but nobody, I knew was going for Russian.  Despite my pleas, and against my wishes, I put Russian down as choice number 1.

Okay, at least, I asked--with confidence and exhaustion--put French down as choice number 2.

"No" said those who sired me.  "With the influx of Spanish speaking people in the US, it would be advantageous for educated persons to speak Spanish."

Spanish was a mite more attractive than Russian as I knew a few pals who were going to put that down as number one, but I still lobbied for French.  I lost the argument.

I was now spent and said "put French down for number 3."

Dad's message was something like, "fine, knock yourself out, put French down for number 3."

So, I took Russian and then later some Spanish. Because of the latter I can very very minimally converse in various establishments in Boston and in South Florida.  But to date I have had only a handful of opportunities to employ what little I've retained from studying Russian.

Once on a plane when a Russian immigrant was giving a stewardess a hard time, I acted as the lamest interpreter of all time (since I remember very little from the classes) but convinced the irate passenger that she had to put her carry on box under the seat. I did this mostly by yanking it off her lap and stuffing it under the seat in front of her.  A couple of times I have seen signs with Russian characters and can make out what the signs mean which has afforded me no real advantage over those who had no clue. And on a few occasions I have overheard someone speaking Russian and could make out bits of conversation which has been valueless since they were not speaking to me in the first place.

However, I now have an opportunity to use the words shto, kto, and gjhe.  And the phrase eto fcyo.

Gjhe means Where.  Where the hell was the big Russian center who scored 28 points in game 4 last night.  He amassed a grand total of zero points last night, primarily because he hardly played.

Shto means What.  What the hell was the coach thinking. I have commented previously that if all the Cavs were going to do was throw it into the Russian, then they were losing the advantage of having the best player on the planet handling the ball. But the Russian (name is Mozgov) can score some points.  You take him out and you lose the advantage of having a finisher who can get offensive rebounds and score at least some points.

Kto means Who.  Who is going to score other than James if the Russian is on the bench nearly the whole game.

I have predicted that Golden State will win as I think you cannot be a one man team in the NBA and win.  I am rooting for the Cavs nevertheless because I think James is great and has been unfairly maligned. I will also point out that he is getting whacked and not getting foul calls.  If you sneezed near Jordan he went to the line.  So, I don't think they will win, but hope they do.

Kak (how) are you going to win if nobody else can score but James.  Even with the seven foot Russian I don't think the Cavs can win, but it gives you a chance.

Viewers will note that in all the games that were close, the Cavs were up big before they either squandered the lead or held on.   In order to win in Cleveland the Cavs will have to get a contribution from JR Smith or Mozgov.

Otherwise Eto vcyo.  (This is over).

Friday, June 12, 2015

Game 4-Say Kaddish

I guess if one regularly predicts that the Warriors will defeat the Cavaliers by 20 points, at some juncture the forecast will prove to be correct.

My streak of inaccurate predictions is over.  Last night the Warriors did indeed wallop the Cavs by 20.  As I have written before, I do not see the Cavaliers being able to prevail since they are in essence a one man team.  Besides I think in the first three games they exhausted their energy and are, in the vernacular, spent.  Dellavedova was out of gas last night, and James has to be running on empty.  In addition, JR Smith-who will never be accused of playing intelligently--usually can shoot but in this series has not been able to drop a bar of soap in the sink.

The series is now a best of three with two out of the three in Oakland.  It is time for the fat lady to warm up.  

Some observations.

  • The decision the Warriors made to essentially let the big Russian center score at will, worked and is likely to work again.  If he scores 30, he has the ball more than James.  
  • Without James the Cavaliers look like a team you might spot at the Y. When he sits at the beginning of the second quarter there does not look like any there, there for the Cavaliers.  
  • It is a testament to James's excellence that the Cavs, who were terrible last year, are now in the finals because of one player.  Without two complementary starters--Irving and Love--the Cavs--who really have nobody else but James--are tied 2-2 in the finals!
  • Iguodala is a stud. He can play for my team anytime.  Just a tough winner.  
  • Golden State's Klay Thompson has yet to have one of his shooting nights.  When that happens the spread might be 30.
  • Both coaches are doing a good job in this series, I do think Blatt might be able to get some meaningful minutes out of Perkins and Marion who have yet to get off the bench.
  • Prediction for Game 5--Golden State will win by 30. I am still rooting for the Cavs, but I cannot see how they can do it, unless JR Smith starts hitting.  And even then he would have to get red hot in two out of the next three games.
  • Prediction for Game 6-Game will be tight until the fourth quarter. Then it will be time to start humming Kaddish for the Cavs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Game 3-Again

My skill at handicapping basketball games was displayed again last night as the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors after I had predicted the Warriors would defeat the Cavaliers.

I remain perplexed by the Cavaliers ability to win despite being, in essence, a one man team.   Almost every play goes through James, and one player--even if he is LeBron James-- should not be able to score regularly if everyone knows the offense is going to go through him on each possession.  If Cleveland prevails in this series James will be rightly dubbed the best ever, by all. Jordan was great, but he had help including--ironically--the current coach of the Golden State Warriors--Steve Kerr.

A little surprised to see how crazy the Cavaliers fans were at the end of the game.  They reacted as if they won the series instead of just a game to put them up 2-1.  If I am a Warrior, I find that wild celebration another source of motivation to play better on Thursday.

My rooting interests in the series are with the Cavaliers because I like James and feel he was wrongly maligned when he decided, a few years ago, to take his skill to Miami.  For whomever he has played, James has been outstanding and unselfish.  The best example is when the US won the Olympics in 2012.  LeBron was the best of the best and yet did not hog the ball or act the part of the prima donna.  But when the games were close, the others--all superstars--relied on James to get the team a victory.

While I am rooting for Cleveland, I again like the Warriors in game 4 even though the game is in Cleveland.  Given my track record thus far, do not bet the farm.  I would reveal my positions in the stock market but I fear that such disclosure might compel readers to sell holdings in the same companies, driving the values down--and I am in the market for a new car.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

It has occurred

Not New York. Not London. Not Boston. Not Switzerland.

West Palm Beach.

I get to the airport, as is my wont, in plenty of time to make my flight.  I have been to West Palm Beach airport now more times than I would like to recall since April 2013.  I counted the other day. Almost twenty round trips.

Nearly always, because I have time when I arrive, I stop at a Chili's that is adjacent to the gates. Usually I have a sandwich and a beer.

Today for a reason that I would rue if I were a younger man and had a mortgage, I decided that instead of a beer I'd spring for a red wine. I have become a fan of red wine in the past few years so decided to go for a merlot.  6 or 9 inches the barmaid inquired.  I am not driving for three plus hours so I asked for the nine.  I've toiled for years. I deserve a nine ounce glass of red.

I was going to get a sandwich as well, but the barmaid said the kitchen was backed up.  I did not want to snort a meal that--in my experience at this Chili's--has ranged from Good to Why did I order this.  So I decided to just go with the wine. It arrived. I sipped.  It tasted like the wine I buy by the jug in Boston for twelve bucks. Nothing special, not bad, but not the kind of wine that makes one consider the possibility that there are wines and there are wines. I have consumed a few of these over the years, but the glass at Chili's was not of this ilk--it was just garden variety.  I had the sense that they had a jug of Gallo under the bar and poured something like nine ounces into a glass.

I finished my wine.  The flight leaves shortly--though you wouldn't think so since every other flight out of West Palm is delayed because the rain that has just come down would make Noah think he got away easy.  Still, the board reads that we will get out on time. So I tipped the glass, knocked back the last bit of what seemed to be just a notch above cheap wine, and asked for the bill.

Out it came.

Twenty one dollars and thirty cents for one glass of wine.

I figured it had to be an error.  Must have mixed me up with the guzzler sitting two seats to my left who was knocking them back as if he wanted to forget something important.  Couldn't be my bill. I've eaten at this place maybe twenty times since April 2013. The prices are ridickalus but not this ridickalus.  So I inquired.

No, I was told, that is the price for a nine ounce glass of merlot.

Not Las Vegas, Not Paris, Not Switzerland, Not Japan. West Palm Beach.  Twenty one dollars for one glass of wine.

I shall go back to a taste of the hops the next time I am here.  And will try out a competing establishment in the airport that does not charge an arm and an additional appendage for a glass of wine.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The little things


It's the little things around the house that are killing me.  The tiny alarm clock that never worked that you insisted could function--and you got it to.  The compass I bought you for father's day, because--even though you had a terrible sense of direction--there was never anyone who had a better sense of where he was.  Pictures of you and mom that I had not seen. The goofy corn on the cob holders. Old cards. Grandpa's chess set.  The hundreds of pages of notes you prepared for your books.

We are almost done now. Bobby and I will be down once again, but we are down to the stuff on the walls and items in drawers that we can't decide yet what to do with.

The zamlers were here on Sunday. You would have loved it. I had contacted the Yiddish book center and a couple of Yiddishists like you came by to pack up the books and mail them to the center.  The woman, but the man to some extent as well, went through them all--commenting on the relative unusual nature of the finds.  There was one dictionary they were marveling over.   Others too they said were valuable and spent some time conversing in Yiddish as they looked through the volumes. You would have been happy to see your collection going to an appreciative audience. The woman asked for a copy of your books and I gave them Freud and Fargenign and the one with the songs you translated.

I'm in the living room now, glancing around, and there is still some work to do.  Lots of chatchkas around here and only about fifty baskets.

Found a note I sent to you in 1997 on father's day. It ends like this:

Last year I gave you a compass and quoted the lyrics from Les Mis. You do "know your place in the sky" and you did fill a little boy's "darkness with order and light."

What else is there to say? Thank you for holding my hand. 

Then I gave you a framed copy of the picture that is below.  I still feel the same way.  Thank you for holding my hand.

P.S. (1) Why did you keep so many rubber bands and paperclips?
        (2) I miss you.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Game 2--What do I know

Once again my wisdom for predicting basketball outcomes is evidenced. I thought the Cavaliers could not bounce back from the tough defeat in game 1.  To be sure they nearly blew the game, but the Cavs prevailed in game 2 despite some remarkably foolish plays.

Some points

  1. I am not sure I have seen a basketball player make more stupid fouls than JR Smith did tonight.
  2. Why did the Cavaliers resort to one on one basketball in the last five minutes? They were double and triple teaming James, other players had to be open.
  3. How come LeBron James does not get star treatment. He is getting whacked when he drives and there are no calls.
  4. Matthew Dellavedova is a tough player.  He was the second most valuable player for the Cavs tonight.
  5. The coach for the Cavs has to do a better job of substituting.  The bricklaying foul shooter has to be yanked out between the four and two minute mark. And where was the big Russian center at the end. 
  6. Stephen Curry will play a game for the ages in Cleveland. Might have 50.  Dellavedova played him tough tonight, but Curry is special.
  7. The Warriors will win by more than ten in Game 3.
  8. Tonight may be the last game that the Cavaliers win in the series.
  9. Don't forget I picked the Warriors tonight and thought Carter would defeat Reagan. Carter did not wind up carrying his own state of Georgia. 

earthly notions

No Earthly Notion by Susan Dodd is about a woman, Murana Bill, her brother, Lyman Gene, her parents Clive and Mary Alice Bill, and a dear friend named Lucille Beebe.

I finished the book this morning and my initial take was that it was an okay read although not the most uplifting novel one is likely to spend time with. In essence, we have no earthly notion about the interrelated topics of how to live or what it means to die.

A few hours later the book has taken on more meaning to me.  The message is still the same, but the nuances that took a few hours to settle make the book more powerful and make me more glad that I plucked the book from a library shelf.

The phrase "no earthly notion" appears at least three times in the story.

  • Once when Murana decides to radically change her life style, 
    •  "She wondered how she'd ever be able to explain to folks just what she thought she was doing, when she could barely explain it to herself. She had no earthly notion what she'd be getting into."  
  • A second time when Lucille explains the hell she is enduring, 
    • "The pain and the stink aint yours. You got no earthly notion what it's like." 
  • A third time Murana is being chastised, 
    • "[You're] just like a child. So damn dumb sometimes. Like you got no earthly notion about anything. Then you'll turn around and startle a body out of her wits, saying the smartest things."

The older we get and the more exposed we are to death, the more we realize the value of life.  And sometimes, in retrospect, I have begun to examine life decisions and am startled how someone who has been blessed with many gifts, did not get life enough, to enjoy it to the extent one can.  Our behaviors can reflect no clue as to what death means and what life should be given its finite duration. Not the most uplifting of things to consider but not a bad notion to deposit in your head to give you a better chance of enjoying days.

If you think you may want to read the book, DON'T read what comes next.  I recommend the novel with what has preceded as sufficient explanation.  But if you are not going to read it, the following might be illuminating.

Murana is exposed to more death than the average person. Her parents--life loving and dear folks-- are killed when their car stalls on train tracks. Her dear brother goes to Vietnam and comes back stunned and mute.  He too leaves the living prematurely.  Murana meets Lucille who is pure nourishment for the girl's deprived soul, but Lucille also passes before her time.  And then there is Murana's job: she works with the elderly in a senior home, spending time among folks trying to find life in what is likely the last station before death.

The message is very clear to me as I sit in my now dead parents' living room. Who are we, but people who should be enjoying time.  And yet how much of our time is spent with no earthly notion that we are not doing that.

Probably a good time for me to take a walk on the beach.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cavaliers-Warriors Game 1

I am not sure how Cleveland can bounce back after this difficult loss. LeBron James was sensational scoring 44 points. Still the Warriors prevailed in overtime.

Even if Kyrie Irving can return Sunday after having been injured in overtime, I don't see how the Cavaliers can play better than they played tonight. Sure JR Smith could not drop a bar of soap in the bathtub, and that will not happen again. But James made shots that looked like optical illusions. He was sensational as was Irving.  Even James can't continue to excel like that.

League MVP Stephen Curry did not have one of his great games. He was terrific but not as special as he can be. When he gets hot the Cavs will be in real trouble. This has to be a very disheartening defeat.  Cleveland fans will have trouble sleeping tonight.

An interesting side note: At one point Mark Jackson, a color commentator for the games AND the former coach of the Warriors, referred to Golden State as "us."  I thought even before the finals that Jackson would have trouble being dispassionate since he had spent so much time with the Warriors.  Cleveland fans could not have been happy when they heard Jackson refer to the Warriors with that pronoun.

Terrific game.  Warriors will win the series in 5 or 6.  The Warriors win on Sunday, lose one out of two in Cleveland and finish it off either in game 5 or game 6.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I saw this.

Just a quick report.

I was in Kenmore Square this morning from 9-11.  At 11:15 I got into my car, parked near Fenway Park.  I drove past the stadium.  I looked up into the stands.  There, five hours before the first pitch, a cluster of fans were in the stands.  Maybe there was a function of some sort. I thought the stadium did not open until two or three hours before the game.  But it did not look like a special event. It looked like a bunch of Red Sox clad supporters in their seats at 11:15 waiting for a 4:05 game.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pumpkin and Mensa

My cat Pumpkin is a great cat.  He will not, however, be invited to join the Mensa society.  I love the guy and will miss him when the sad day comes when he has to leave us.  But a member of the IQ elite he is not.

My m.o. in the morning involves walking sleepily down the stairs and opening the door that bars Pumpkin from dancing up the stairs and spending the night on our heads.  When I do open the door to the upstairs in the morning, the Pump wants to do one thing. And that is get out of Dodge. He waits for me to open the front door to go get the newspaper.  As soon as I do, Pumpkin darts out and does whatever cats do when they bolt.

This happens every morning unless it is raining. When there is precipitation the routine changes.  I open the front door and he takes a step out and turns around immediately heading back into the dry house.  I go get the paper.

You might figure that Pumpkin's aversion to rain reflects intelligence.  Yet what happens when I return with the paper is that Pumpkin runs to the slider that separates the back of the house from an exposed deck.  And there he waits for me to open the slider.  Pumpkin does not get that if it is raining in the front of the house it is probably raining in the back of the house as well.  He goes through the slider when I go through the now familiar dance. When he gets wet on the deck and jumps back in, he proceeds to the remaining exit--a side door that leads to the driveway.  Again, he waits for me to open the door.  Only when he has determined that it is raining in the front, back and side of the house does he give up and go to where we keep the cat food.  If he can't play, he figures, he might as well eat.

When I first noticed this behavior I thought that I did not get the brightest of cats.  It still crosses my mind that for a guy who certainly knows where the food is, litter box is, and where a morsel of tuna fish might be hanging around near the sink, he should be swift enough to realize that when it rains in the front, it is wet in the back too.

But the other day I started to think about Pumpkin's behavior and comparing it with humans.  It was then that I thought that perhaps even those in Mensa societies exhibit the same tendencies.

How often do we attempt to do something, are categorically blocked, but then try another approach to see if an alternative route will get us where we want to go.  And when it is no go with plan B, how often do we try again with a different maneuver.  Unlike my cat who after he has tried all three doors gives up, some of us will start again at the front of the house to see if maybe the pot of gold is attainable despite being aware on some level that it is not going to happen.

There is something to be said for perseverance.  I must have received 200 rejection letters before I got a publisher who wanted to produce one of my books.  So, if I had decided after a few "doors" to give up I would have lost an opportunity to get my wisdom--such as it is--out there.  If one really believes in some dream and it is not impossible, then one should keep at it.  But in some situations we  have to be wise enough to accept the facts that if it is raining in the front it is raining in the back.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Brady Goodell redux

Another puzzle piece.

Today Commissioner Goodell has rejected the request by the NFL players' association to recuse himself from assessing the merit of Tom Brady's appeal.    This seems to set up a guaranteed court case subsequent to the adjudication by Goodell unless Goodell dismisses all penalties against the player and the Patriots.  If Goodell reduces the fine/suspension, there still would be a court case if Brady continues to assert he did nothing wrong.

So what do we have.

  • A report that declares that Brady was generally aware of tampering, but declares the team's coach and ownership innocent of wrong doing. However, despite the declared innocence, the team is penalized one million dollars and two draft choices.  
  • Brady is suspended for four games without pay. Brady claims his innocence.
  • Kraft, the owner, declares that despite an earlier claim, he will not appeal the penalties. However, he asserts that he believes the quarterback is innocent of any wrongdoing.
  • A commissioner asserts he will be open to hearing what the quarterback has to say and that he does not necessarily agree with the report that the consultant generated.   However, his office issued the penalties.
Before Kraft announced that he would not appeal he met with the commissioner.  There are two possible ways that meeting went and either could explain how the pieces of this puzzle fit. 

At the start of the meeting Kraft told Goodell that the decision to penalize the Patriots was inappropriate and that his player and the team were innocent.  Then, one of two things occurred.

  1. Goodell told Kraft that he had the goods on Brady.  That there was more evidence than what appeared in the report.  Goodell told Kraft that the NFL was doing the Patriots and Brady a favor given what they knew about what Brady did. Kraft saw the evidence. He knew that Brady was culpable. So he issued the statement that despite that "he knew that Brady was innocent" --when he knew the opposite was true-- it was in the best interests of the league to accept the penalty.  This was a deal he made with Goodell to keep Goodell from exposing the picture of Brady with the kangaroo. Kraft could still publicly claim to support his quarterback and attempt to salvage some face by declaring that his guy was innocent.
  2. Goodell promised Kraft that he was eager to hear Brady so that Brady could give him a speck of evidence which would make it easy for Goodell to declare that the original report lacked the necessary information to exonerate Brady.  Goodell could then claim that given the "new" information, the penalties against both the team and Brady would be rescinded because, in fact, there was no evidence that anyone had done anything illicit.   
No other scenario makes sense.