Monday, September 28, 2015

Goodell and Brady

In the first three weeks of the season, Tom Brady has led the Patriots to three victories.  In each game his play has been nearly perfect.

One can assume the balls have been inflated properly.

Imagine what kind of competitive advantage he would have had, had the balls been deflated? According to Commissioner Goodell, Brady was culpable for being generally aware that someone else had deflated footballs during last year's AFC championship.  The deflated footballs allegedly provided the Patriots with an advantage.  

Never mind that after the balls were inflated at half time of that championship game, the Patriots went on to play better than they had in the first half. And in the Superbowl two weeks later when noone doubted the proper inflation levels of the balls, the Patriots defeated the Seahawks.

Still, throughout the winter Goodell and his childish toadies continued to deflate the joy of the fans with the silly perpetuation of irrational claims.

I look forward to the Patriots winning the superbowl if Goodell has not been fired by then.  If he is still around, he will have to hand over the trophy to the team that Brady captains. It ought to be an interesting moment for Goodell.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Savage

Next weekend the brothers of old KB are gathering for one of our regular reunions.  In the last ten years or so, it seems like annually a few of us get together and then every few years there's a bigger crew that meet in Albany and hoist a few.

We have met in February to see an Albany basketball game in the daytime and cavort telling tales in the evening as we imbibe far more than we should. "Whatever became of Jane Smith?"  "Who is the woman who got away?"  "What is your biggest regret?" As often we meet in October.

Wiser than when we were actually sophomores, (though we may act sophomorically)  we typically consume not far from, and often right at, the hotel where we will be sleeping it off.

The meeting next week has a somber tone to it. A guy I have met at these reunions,  but never really knew at school since he had a few years on me, passed suddenly a month or so ago.  So the gathering tomorrow is in honor of Marvin who, I have heard from so many others, was one class guy.  But in addition to some somber toasting we will have time to enjoy each other's company, spar about our political attitudes (the rich guys have become Republicans), and reminisce.

Got a call from my buddy Kenny on Thursday telling me he is up for the weekend. Kenny is a remarkable trouper. He spent most of the summer in knee braces after having taken a bad fall on Memorial Day weekend. He came by a month ago and in these Forest Gump braces still walked around town, drove and kept his spirits. I think he still has the braces on. Knowing the considerate, sober, and sarcasm light group of guys who will be there, I can guarantee that after a few minutes of "hope you are feeling okay" his stones will be roasted with quips asking if he is an extra for a Forest Gump sequel or if the metal helps him get Cleveland on the radio. No doubt someone will inquire about how the braces retard his carnal activities.

So, I was thinking of Kenny a moment ago, and I smiled as I thought of a common refrain we utter when we see each other after a spell or speak on the phone. Usually I, but sometimes he, will begin the conversation bellowing the words, "And noone can explain..."

Thinking of that, and Marvin, created a detour in my cerebral meanderings such that I started to think of a fellow we knew whose moniker was The Savage. David Neuman, The Savage--a fellow freshman in 1967 in the freshman dormitory, Waterbury Hall.  A few years ago because of the capabilities of social media, I read that the Savage had passed. I don't know the details.

It was maybe the second week of classes and I, back from the "new" campus where classes were held, was standing on the long serpentine line on the old campus that led to dinner for the Freshmen.  Unless you timed it right, the Freshmen were backed up a winding staircase, waiting for your time to get to the front and then devour the fare for the day, regularly hamburger patties, which we called "hockey pucks."

So, this one day I was standing in line halfway up the staircase. There next to me is this rather short, meek looking fellow.  He introduces himself and within a minute he tells me that "back home they call me the Savage."

He introduces this nickname because he informs me that in the downtown area where we reside there are a lot of "townies" who can cause trouble.  But, he tells me, I need not worry if, he intimates, I stick with him because "back home they call me the savage."

I am a combination of amused and flabbergasted by his claim. I break out into a broad smile and put it to him: "You're kidding. Why do they call you the Savage?"

No smile on this guy.  He responds: "Because I do savage acts."

"Really, what kinds of savage acts have you done?"

"Once hit Hans Schmidt in the back of the leg with an orange."

"Who is Hans Schmidt?"

He goes on tell me that Hans Schmidt is a professional wrestler who was wrestling in Rochester. The Savage hails from a Rochester suburb. He went to an arena apparently for a wrestling match and during the bout chucked an orange at Hans Schmidt.

About this time we were close to the food and I could not get over this Savage guy who kept telling me more stories to prove the point that his handle was appropriate.  Afterwards I told a bunch of buddies about the Savage and we got a charge out of going up to him and asking for other examples of things he had done that were savage

One of my friends in Waterbury had an older brother also at the school. When we told him about the Savage he thought of a prank.  He got a bunch of his cronies together and planned to dress up as "townies" and see just how savage he was.  No attempt at fighting, just poking fun.

So one night in walks these four seniors, dressed like local hoodlums (each of these guys is making over 200 K now easy). We get Savage in his room and into the room come "the townies".  One of the seniors says, "We're a couple of the local boys, we hear you don't like us types, and we (starting to point with his finger) don't like it one bit."

Initially the savage was a bit nervous and wary, but soon afterwards the seniors started laughing and revealed that it was just a gag.  Without missing a beat, the Savage smiled and shook hands around and then whipped out a piece of paper from his desk.  He got up on a chair and began reciting a mega ribald take-off he had written to the beat of a popular song of the day called Ringo.

It was classic hormone driven stuff, about a guy seeking out loose women and one in particular. Ellen.  "The story spread throughout the land, that I had eaten Ellen's gland." 

Sophomoric stuff like that, but what made it funny was not the lyrics but the brassy nature of the guy to go Karaoke on us right after the gag.

The last lines of the real song Ringo ends with

But on his grave they can't explain, the tarnished star above the name of Ringo.

We are hysterical as Savage is going through his parody.  When he gets to the end, he belts out the final lyric with his hand in the air like a marathoner who has just won the Olympics

And noone can explain, the hairy nuts above the name of Ellen!

So when Kenny and I get together we often chant these words from nearly fifty years ago as a reminder of our freshmen year and the Savage. "And no one can explain..."

Lost touch with the guy almost immediately after college, even after the first couple of years of school he seemed to travel in some other circles.  Good guy.

 Rest in Peace, Savage.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

They gave it their best shot

The Patriots gave it their best shot at making me look foolish, but we, the Patriots, won by more than a touchdown. Some seriously poor clock management in the fourth quarter. Had it not been for a circus catch by Amendola who knows what condiments I may have required to make the crow go down well.

Rex Ryan needs to coach a team to have more discipline. The Bills committed so many penalties.  Very amateurish at times.

A prediction here for next week: The Bills will not be able to focus after this tough loss and they will succumb to their next opponent.


It is 1256 pm.  The Bills kick off against the Patriots in less than five minutes.

I guarantee the Patriots will win this game by more than a touchdown.

See you in three hours to either gloat or eat crow.

It is sad that juxtaposed with the game I have to endure watching political ads for first Chris Christie and then Jeb Bush.  It is one of the problems of living close to the New Hampshire border.  This little pisher of a state gets so much attention every four years because the first primary is there.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Time and tide

Nearly twenty years ago a woman in one of my classes approached me and asked me if I knew her father.  Her last name was the same as his, but I had not made the connection. When I looked at her I saw my former fraternity brother very clearly in her.  I had also known her mother--they had met in college.  One day the parents came to visit and the four of us-the daughter, parents, and myself reminisced in my office. She, the daughter, got a kick out of hearing how her teacher and parents could have acted sophomorically at one time.

Within the last ten years I have met with parents of prospective students. Our school has become extremely competitive. One of my roles here is to attempt to describe our programs accurately so that we will attract the best and the brightest to Northeastern.  Often the best and the brightest arrive for their visits with their parents so I have had the opportunity to speak with the folks.  I become unnerved at times when I realize that these parents are often several years my junior and it is the exception to find that we are contemporaries.  References to events that were current for my generation are met with glazed, if polite, looks by these--much more often than not--well educated parents.

Yesterday I had a moment.  We had our annual assembly for faculty in our college. I met and spoke a bit to our new faculty explaining my role here. Some of my colleagues did the same.  There was an election for a senate representative--and then there was a party.  At it, I had the occasion to speak for a second time with a new faculty member.  She told me that she had taken five years off after her undergraduate education before pursuing her doctorate.  We talked a bit about where we were from and she discovered that I had gone to elementary school quite close to where her father had grown up in Brooklyn.  She then mentioned the year when her father graduated from high school. The dad--a father of a professor who began graduate school five years after she completed her undergraduate degree--is younger than I am and not by a little.

Oh, well.  I can still do the elliptical for an hour.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Curiouser and Curiouser Part 2.

The behavior of ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and last night--Chris Collingsworth and Al Michaels just are difficult to comprehend.

In the wake of Judge Berman's judgment which excoriated the league--justifiably--,  the NFL and its enforcers have attacked the Patriots in the same way a whiny loser tries to get back at someone who has defeated them.

When the Steelers last night complained about their headsets not working, instead of knowledgeably commenting that the NFL, not individual teams, supply radio equipment, the announcers intimated that the Patriots were "at it again."  Please.  Right after the fiasco known as DeflateGate the Patriots are going to mess with the Steelers' signals?  And shouldn't this august announcing team know that the equipment is not provided by the stadium, but the league?

Collingsworth opined that while he read the forty page decision by Berman there was nothing in it about culpability, rather due process.  Read it again boychick.  The Berman judgment is clear that there is no evidence of culpability and that what passed for evidence was bogus.

The NFL's behavior is unconscionable, and their puerile reaction to losing is even more reprehensible.

Roger Goodell did not have the stones to show up at the stadium. The commissioner did not come to opening day.  Really.

And where are the owners.

This whole matter gets curiouser and curiouser.

Oh, by the way, balls were not deflated last night. Brady was near perfect and the Patriots, yawn--once again--were victorious.

Monday, September 7, 2015


So, a year ago today we had your unveiling. We did both of yours at the same time since you passed so close to one another.  Also, we picked September 7th, because tomorrow the 8th is your anniversary date.  This is a picture from that night.

At the unveiling Jacqui said she imagined that you were holding hands beneath the stones. I don't believe in such things, but if there is a post life, I am sure that is the case.

Happy anniversary mom and dad. Thank you for the foundation.


In the offseason NFL coaches and player personnel representatives attend what is called "the Combine." It is a place where aspiring players come and are tested for attributes.  The team representatives want to see how fast one can run, how high they can jump, how much weight they can bench press, and assorted other capacities.

In each case the assumption must be that players with certain attributes will help a team win.  The identification of the attributes must be based on this assumption. Why test how fast someone can run the forty yard dash unless speed in that distance is key to team victories.

But what if a player is habitually victorious at the college, high school, and in the case of Tim Tebow, professional levels. That is whenever a particular player plays his teams tend to win far more often than they lose.  And what happens when that player does not score as well as others on the various tests.

It would make sense to me that a coach would acknowledge in this eventuality that the criteria identified as those needed for wins cannot be all inclusive.   There must be some other factors that are not measurable or the identification of these other factors has not yet occurred.

The case of Tim Tebow is an interesting one. When he played professionally for the Denver Broncos, the Broncos won.  When he played for the Florida Gators, Florida won.  The player's teams win.  From what I have read, Tebow cannot throw that well and is deficient in other areas.  Yet he wins. Similarly, Doug Flutie did not measure up on various tests. All he did however, like Tebow, was win wherever he played.

Tim Tebow was recently cut by the Philadelphia Eagles because he was not good enough.  The other quarterbacks are allegedly better.  I wonder what these other quarterbacks winning percentages have been. In Flutie's case one of the more astonishing decisions a coach has ever made was when Wade Phillips the then coach of the Buffalo Bills benched Flutie in a playoff game. He was benched despite the fact that Flutie had taken a loser and made it a winner in his two years as starter. He was benched in support of a taller, stronger, quarterback--who had a weaker record as a starter. The Bills lost in the playoff game.

Tom Brady is as good a quarterback as any who is playing in the NFL.  It is important to remember that the only reason he got an opportunity to play is because a player who excelled on all the Combine tests was injured. When Drew Bledsoe was injured Brady came in and had an opportunity to show how good he was. Juxtapose Bledsoe's Combine scores with Brady's, and Bledsoe had a clear edge.  Yet, Brady's win loss record is far superior to Bledsoe's.

I think some humility is necessary among those who claim to be experts.  Just because you cannot identify a factor that contributes to winning does not mean that that factor does not exist. If I was the coach of the Jaguars, or Buccaneers, or Raiders or any of the teams that are habitual losers, I would give the ball to Tebow until he started to lose.  And if that did not happen, rejoice, admit you don't have all the answers, and continue to give him the ball.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Zarembra and Goodell

My brother and I have been having trouble with the bank where my parents' funds were located. We had addressed what needed to be addressed for us to access the account and have a document to that effect. However, the person who created the document is no longer with the bank. He has been fired and there is no record of our interaction on the bank computers.  When we presented another banker with the document she told us it was worthless.

Annoyed and very frustrated, we had to go through  the whole process again. In the meantime the bank stopped payment on checks--that we had been told by the fired banker--that we could write. We had to deal with calling the companies, apologizing, and requesting the waiving of penalty fees.

Finally after resending materials to the bank we received a mailing back that included a document. On the document our information had been typed in. In order to proceed we were told we simply had to sign on the dotted lines to obtain access to the funds.

Unfortunately when we received this mailing we saw that it was riddled with errors. Instead of the account being called the Meyer Zaremba account. It was MeyerS Zaremba. In several places it was MeyerS Zaremba.  My brother's last name was spelled ZarembRa.  I was listed as living at  my brother's home with my brother.  I do not. Despite the fact that I sent in my driver's license and information about my place of work--my home state is listed as Florida and my employer is listed as North University (I work at Northeastern University).  Our phone numbers are incorrect. In a place where a primary and secondary trustee should be listed, I am listed as BOTH the primary and secondary trustee.

It is an incredible document.  My brother called the bank and heard the woman who created the document (the one they did not fire) spew a litany of excuses:  "I don't know why the computer did that", "That's very strange",

 If she kept her job, imagine the doozy who was canned?

"I can't imagine how this happened," she said on a number of occasions when she spoke with my brother.

It happened because she was incompetent and clueless about the fact that she was incompetent.

All through the fiasco known as Deflategate, I have been unable to understand the rationale that Roger Goodell had been using to arrive at his decisions. I wrote in this blog on a number of occasions that he must have had some bit of compelling evidence that he had yet to show. Otherwise this activity made no sense.

As we review the decision that came down yesterday--by the first impartial arbiter in this case--we realize how flawed and capricious the decisions by Goodell have been in this matter.   How could several very well paid people have thought that what was meted out as punishment was fair?


  • suspend a player four games because "it is more reasonable than not" that he was "generally aware" of someone else's transgressions?
  • hire an "independent" consultant who clearly was not?
  • claim to be impartial when you listen to an appeal, but--finding no evidence that could support the original decision--you headline your decision on the appeal by trumpeting the absence of Brady's cell phone as incontrovertible evidence? 
    • ...And you do this at the same time as you withhold evidence from Brady's lawyers
  • draw an analogy between being "generally aware" that a ball was deflated--to taking steroids to enhance performance.
  • do not, despite repeated requests, deny a report about how many footballs were deflated by how many psi even though you know that the report (a) damns Brady and is (b) wholly inaccurate.


I just keep shaking my head.  Of all the lawyers working in the NFL office didn't anybody scream out--"hey the emperor is naked?  We have no case."  And besides we are dragging a player who is an icon--maybe the best player in the league--through the mud for no good reason.  We could get sued big time.  Also, we are implicitly criticizing an owner who has done more for the NFL than any owner in recent history.

I am not right all the time with predictions, but on this I was spot on even though one need not be a wizard to realize that Deflategate was a sham.  My prediction now is this:

  • For the next week or so, Goodell's stock is going to continue to plummet like a boulder in a bathtub as more people look through the Berman report and realize just how ridickalus the Goodell decisions have been.  
  • Goodell's squawking about "his intention to appeal" will grow softer.  
  • Players are going to scoff at decisions the NFL office makes. 
  • The owners will get together and realize the NFL is beginning to look like a joke.  
  • Roger Goodell will not be the commissioner by Thanksgiving, maybe Columbus Day.

He and his office have behaved like the fools at my dad's bank. Incompetent and clueless.