Maintaining ‘lifestyle’ is a worthy goal during Regular Times, too ‘Merica

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Knight’s Stadium in downtown Charlotte, NC has big city ambiance, and civic jewel Romare Bearden Park the other side of right field fence. Pro sports are facing challenges of gearing up, but good thoughts for your Fourth ‘Merica.

Exchanging FB messages with a favorite cousin, we concur that, whatever is going on in lots of places at this point in time, we’re still not severely cut off from all civilized pursuits, our lifestyles, as it were. Confederate statuary be danged, that “When you’ve got your health…” stuff comes up on both our attitude-radar regularly.

Frank is retired, would probably be spending the summer in Minn. if not for all that’s transpired. My brother Mike and I have been in-place since just before the official start in late March, and having lived together off-on during long stretches of life before, we’re doing pretty good on staying relaxed. I’ve got an office at one end of house, he winds up using the kitchen table. Yes, there’s been too much TV watching, the dogs demand regular petting, and they follow my every move in the kitchen.

I was essentially a remote worker the last year, so COVID-19 didn’t have a major effect on my daily timing. Knowing this week will be a scorcher, I expect bike rides will be earlier vs. in energy-sucking humidity of Charlotte afternoons. Brother Steve asked Mike for a lift back from here while riding yesterday – I shot hoops earlier this morning, had early lunch and being blog productive all afternoon.

Time on task

Sometimes it really does feel like vacation, and what needs to be accomplished in any 2-3 hour window might be vague. Missing a blog is most often a lack of discipline, but also a signal that’s reminded  you throughout life about attitude affecting outcome. You let it slide, it becomes a negative.

Every time I leave mid-program, after any too long escape from screen/keyboard or food-making, I give myself an attaboy! Artificial Intelligence (AI) might be able to turn ‘it’ on-off in the future, but only being in the saddle actually gets results in 2020. Period.

Having opinions about BLM, face masks, and when stimulus checks show up? are kind of in the personal mix, but really, only getting the dialogue written for my creative stuff with wattpad, or making sure an RFP hits the clients criteria described on Indeed, thats a ‘more is better’ situation. Discipline is always the deal.

Sports – Who knew we’d do okay without…?

  • Charlotte has Carolina Panthers football, Hornets basketball (23-42, 10th in East, out of any restart) and Triple A hockey Checkers (2018-19 champs, 34-22-5, tied for 3rd in Atlantic Division), and Panthers owner David Tepper pushed through his purchase of an MLS soccer franchise ($300M worth) that doesn’t have an official name yet.
  • It’s doubtful any of these will be putting fannies in the seats in the near future. After two train-wreck seasons, the Panthers return is certainly the most anticipated. The retirement of beloved Luke Kuechly, the amazing goodness of Christian McCaffrey’s rarely achieved 1000-1000 yard productivity, an exciting new coach (Matt Ruhle), a necessary all defensive (7 picks) draft, and the arrival of QB Teddy Bridgewater from New Orleans, and offensive coordinator Joe Brady from national champion LSU are all positives. 
  • According to CBS Sports, the big sendup for Major League Baseball will be the Yankees and reigning World Series champs the Washington Nationals on July 23rd. That will be the focus game, with the rest of whatever season they figured out starting the next day. Could be Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasberg for the Nats, Yanks battered 306 HRs last year (and the Twinkies-no-more had one more).
  • I got my motorsports ya-yas out years ago, with a couple Formula I races in Watkins Glen and Montreal, and satisfied any NASCAR yearnings with a 300 miler in Charlotte that took almost seven hours, with wrecks and rain delays. I was in a hospitality suite, so food, drink, staying dry was all good, with a great view of everyone pulling into the pits without the various fumes.
  • Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick were at the top in Pocono 350, Harvick leads the standings with 581 pts. (3 wins, 8-Top 5s), Hamlin is 4th, with 506 pts. (4 wins, 9-Top 5s). You figure it out.
  • Dustin Johnson’s -19 took the Travelers Tournament, Kevin Streelman was 2nd at -18, and because he was one of the ‘names’ in tournament, Phil Mickelson was T-24th at -11, Sergio was T-32nd at -10. Webb Simpson leads the FedEx standings with 1,583 points (7 tournaments), Justin Thomas (1,543 in 11 events), Rory McIlroy (1,270 in 9 outings) is 4th.
  • Formula I is a whole ‘nother deal than just going left, and if you’ve had the opportunity to samba in the streets with Brazilians, you have partied with the best. Having no crowds trackside, those sports mean very little. The golfers don’t seem to mind any lack of  crowd ‘juice,’ and its probably easier to keep your mind on doing what most think of as free money, hardly a real job.

For those who wondered, former Panther Cam Newton has landed in New England as their probable #1 QB, since 42-year old Tom Brady has left for Tampa Bay.

Bombshell good news – ‘The Comeback Trail’

While doing our first furniture pickup for a shelter supply ministry since February, our four-man crew moved a large table downstairs for a lady’s neighbor, receiving 300mg. vials of prime CBD (hempseed oil) for the effort. Having been a content creation person for a manufacturer last year, I appreciate the quality of it, much better on anxiety levels with .5 of a dropper several times a day, compared to the $2.49 version (wine) from Aldi.

good timesdave-michStill, beyond just knowing everyone is safe – including Mom, even if they had a breach at her senior community on 17th – and Favorite Nephew and wife arriving in other corner of country, getting really GOOD news is a slice of Life that works wonders.

Family counts plenty under circumstances like whats out there, with 40 million in some stage of unemployed, and not many you can have a beer with.

 

That came with a note on FB about a movie my “fifth brother,” David Ornston worked, and his getting a producer credit for comedy ‘The Comeback Trail,’ starring Robert DeNiro, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Zach Braff.

It’s not “Jenny from the Block” or “Straight Outta Compton” huge, and for most its just info you’d look for at the beginning or end of the film. As a bro thing, when an important part of your life involves getting a bunch of stars on the same project like ‘Comeback,’ that’s a good professional result, worth an attaboy.

Right now I’ve got RFPs for remote work out, I’d like to try some outdoor brew pub entertainment three blocks away, will keep an eye out for that elusive stimulus check, continue a healthy amount of activity including my good-looking jump shot, and edit another chapter of Platinum Fury.’ y’know?

Time on task man. And please wear your mask.

 

 

 

Sports is the American way, we love winners, believe in fairness

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If there’s a game with more macho to it, someone is going to have to show me.

After wasting essentially three hours on FB on an overcast-rainy Wednesday (right? I’m not always 100% on days now, anyone else feeling fuzzy on that?), I’ve purged enough of my angst about political buffonery to write a legitimate blog.

Having planned on doing something ‘sporty-ish,’ my initial observation is that, lacking any juice from crowd excitement for the NASCAR and golf I peeked at, its less interesting than some of the (repeats of) NCAA action in baseball, football, lacrosse, and hoops I’d seen years ago. Of course, showing finals, or YUGE! upsets is part of that.

Duke (6-0) was #1 early in the 2019-20 season, and while they were a good looking pick in the NCAAs – where losing one is Death – coming up short to the Lumberjacks after 150 straight Ws at home versus non-conference teams was avoidable. If you saw it, SFA earned that  85-83 win by crushing the Blue Devils 36-27 on FGs, barely being outshot on 3-pointers (2-10, 5-15) and shot 11-17 FTs, but Duke made only 24 of *40* from the line, which will bite you just about any time.

When you lose like that, everyone has to do some unpleasant navel-gazing. Notre Dame beat Navy 43 years in a row (football), and you’d think beating on your little brother wouldn’t be any kind of thrill after that long. But, ask long-time powerhouse Nebraska how it feels when all those teams they pulverized in the Big 12 rejoiced when THEY finally won, or seeing the Huskers get their heads handed to them since they moved to the Big 10 (14 teams now, funky B1G logo).

Navy’s win against Notre Dame had to be better than sex – nobody’s father or grandfather ever got it while playing there.

UCLA (men’s basketball) beat California 52 times in a row, meaning our place *and YOUR’S* 26 straight years, and a common quote by ‘overdogs’ at times like that is, “I knew it would end at some point, it just sucks to be on the team when such strings end.”

Penn State (women’s volleyball) won 109 matches and four NCAA titles in a row  through 2010, and the UConn women’s hoops 111 games (plus four consecutive championships, two during the streak) in a row. The NCAA record for consecutive match wins is held by the UMiami men’s tennis, with 137 straight from 1957-64.

Minor political comment – THAT is what actual WINNING looks like.

The other side of the coin

How one ranks a DISASTER is often relative: When the British retreated from Kabul in Afghanistan (1st Anglo-Afghan War, 1839-1842) in January ’42, almost the entire British-Sikh force (750 British, 3800 Indian troops, 12,000 “camp followers” – families, not fans)  was slaughtered in Khyber Pass, “disaster” is *very* legit. In a fairly strong comeback, two British armies returned to crush the Afghans in Kabul in August, 1842.

The NY Giants beating New England 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII, when the 18-0 Pats were looking to become the second undefeated champions, that’s a loss, not disaster.

Super Bowl 51 – Atlanta (omg!) versus New England

Along with the annual NCAA hoops orgy, Super Bowl wins and losses determine who is held high (or regarded otherwise). For anyone who watched it, the Falcons seemed like they were poised to topple the Patriots dynasty after an eight play-85 yard drive early in the 3rd quarter gave them a 28-3 lead, 28-9 after three quarters.

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“A game that made grown men cry”is how its usually remembered, and Ryan, who had a 4,944 yard/38 TD Most Valuable Player season and a 17/23, 2 TD Super Bowl, has barely gotten the taste of ashes out of his mouth since.

You simply don’t forget losing a championship like that.

Choke? Well, there’s not a lot of ways to make losing in overtime acceptable when you’ve owned a team so totally most of the game. In the fourth quarter, a great tippped ball reception by Julian Edelman kept a Patriot drive alive, a sack-fumble against Falcon QB Matt Ryan led to a touchdown, and a unreal 43/62 for 466 yards and two TD day by future first ballot Hall of Famer Tom Brady hung a 34-28 overtime loss on Atlanta instead.

The Worst – Georgia Tech pulverizes Cumberland 222-0

At a time where air-raid passing attacks in college football can score six-to-ten touchdowns with ease, and running up the score isn’t favored, knowing how this 1916 pasting came about should earn anyone a beer.

Cumberland had actually discontinued its football program before the season, but they weren’t allowed to cancel. Tech coach John Heisman (yes, that Heisman), whose baseball team had been thumped by Cumberland 22-0 that year – possibly while using ‘ringers’ – had actually offered the Tennessee college $500 to play or face having to pay $3,000 as the guarantee for the game.

Cumberland only brought 12-16 players, Tech scored 63 points in the first and 63 more in the second quarter, held them to -42 yards rushing. Heisman, apparently with his blood lust sated, allowed the 3rd and 4th quarters to be 12 instead of 15 minutes long.

“That’s why we don’t play them on paper”

Having used two personal underdog stories throughout a long sportswriting career, this is still where they belong: An 8-2 win against Ithaca College by my rag-tag bunch of players called the Brockport State Women’s Ice Hockey Club, and a 6-3 semi-final win in the Upstate Rugby Championships by the Schenectady Reds over our arch-rivals (and aggressively un-humble) group, the Albany Knickerbockers.

My hockey team lost to Ithaca on our ice the week earlier 3-1, when IC scored an empty net goal with :02 left. I’d pulled our goalie with a minute to go, and we played textbook hockey, keeping the puck in their end, and getting six shots on goal, until they slid it the length of the ice to score. Terrific effort from a team with five freshman, but an L.

The next week, with only ten skaters, some borrowed equipment (several of them had intramural helmets without cages), only five players with green-gold jerseys and our outstanding goalie (Julie Dufresne) in a purple-yellow LA Kings jersey, four girls scored twice each. The four wet and stinking jerseys I borrowed from the men’s team Friday afternoon, didn’t wash – ooops! – but handed out before the game, that’s an underdog situation. Unforgettable!

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The rugby match was epic. The Reds hadn’t beaten the Knicks in 13 years, since they’d broken off from what had been a powerhouse and become the best team in the Upstate. Utilizing ‘rugby whores’ (give them a jersey, they’ll do what you want) to fill out a ‘B’ side, winning the championship was a hard core defensive effort over two days.

We held the Knicks scoreless until the last play of the game, essentially three straight shutouts, then they made a penalty kick because one of our players punched someone right in front of a referee.

Winning that championship was a two day, hard core defensive effort; holding the Knicks scoreless until the last play of the game was  essentially three straight shutouts.

In overtime, we made two kicks, they missed their second, which is how ties are settled in such tournaments. For anyone who has shaken the hand of someone who doesn’t believe they lost to YOU guys and says, “Too bad it had to get settled that way,” smiling and offering a “Yeah, right” is like winning the lottery. (Okay, maybe finding $10 in a pair of jeans in the dryer.)

I was also on the wrong side of 52-0 whuppin’ in another tournament (Saranac Lake) in 20 instead of 40 minute halves. As a bonus, on the last play of the game, an Old Blue player karate-shopped me in the ear as I attempted a tackle, then slid in for the score.

Ahhhhh, SPORTS! I have no idea how pro baseball, hockey, football and basketball will get things back on seasonal tracks, and I think a brother has sold his Panther seats, so I doubt I’ll see them any time soon, but its the American dream – anybody on any day can be a hero.

  Picture 
Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 
(704) 502-9947

It’s the ’60s again – SpaceX, civil rights, but COVID-19 is bigger than Vietnam

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During a week of exhaustive coverage for nationwide protesting over the killing of George Floyd – a black man whose life was ended by a Minneapolis cop who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes – many people were still excited about Americans taking off from historic pad 39-A at Cape Canaveral Saturday.

NASA was involved, but the SpaceX launch, with visions of “Mars and beyond,” was Musk’s baby. So what if he got a $700M bonus for success.

It didn’t take over the news, but after a non-launch Wednesday, Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 rocket, a slim, 24-story tall projectile compared to the thundering Saturn 5s of yore, it wasn’t another COVID-19 related story either. When Doug Hurley and Rob Behnken successfully docked with the International Space Station 19 hours later, science nerds weren’t the only ones loving it.

That said, for over fifty years Vietnam has been the standard for a situation that divided our country, but in less than 100 days, the lies and mismanagement by an administration that perpetuated a meat-grinder of young lives and treasure lost for nearly a decade, is now relegated to second place.

With a pandemic that has cost more American lives – over 106,000 as of yesterday – than any 20th century war except the Big One, WWII, and 40 million unemployed that trumps the Depression our parents and grandparents told us was the worst of times, reliving the tumultous Sixties proves there can be a new bottom.

But America DID put people on the moon, and now we’re trying to match that shining pinnacle, even as we struggle with civil rights brutality and personal malfeasance at the highest levels by an administration that seems to thrive on sucker-punching its citizens.

The Real Sixties

The Cuban Missile Crisis, hippies, the Beatles and English Invasion, Hendrix, Baby Boomers, the protest marching and sit-ins, the Black Panthers, Muhammed Ali, the Black Power salute of John Smith and Juan Carlos in Mexico City that shoved athletes 100% into political mainstream awareness. The 1969 Amazin’ Mets, Jets, Knicks, Woodstock! Timothy Leary and LSD, Rachel Carson and the beginning of environmental awareness, American astronauts walking on that orb in the sky “before the end of this decade,” winning the Space Race against the USSR. Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America; (original) Star Trek!  LOTS of hair; the oral polio vaccine (Sabin, 1963); Ford’s Mustang; Smiley face; Mr. Ed and The Wild, Wild West.

A legendary one liner is “If you remember the Sixties, you really weren’t there.” I was a well-sheltered Boomer (1957), getting A’s in Catholic grade school who saw life on TV more than I participated. I saw Lee Harvey Oswald get killed live, police *whaling* on protesters at the ’68 Democratic Convention, couldn’t have missed the moon landing, and Jim West was THE coolest imaginable dude. We prayed for Apollo 13 (which was actually 1970).

I’ll qualify that “more than I participated,” because our family of four boys traveled plenty of places with our pop-up camper, that we routinely got set up in fifteen minutes and could go exploring or swimming, always a prime consideration on a 3-day drive. Dad helped Mom make dinner.

Our classic was 5,353 miles over 13 days. Yes, I’ve been to the Lincoln Memorial, climbed into the crown of the Statue of Liberty, watched a game in the Astrodome, ate bignets in the French Quarter, two blocks from a *very* high Mississippi River. Walked on the turf at Dallas Stadium and Michigan, rode the Arch in St. Louis. Gettysburg.

Being shotgun meant something when you were on-off the interstate every 40 miles for three days going to Florida. We read the maps, knew what south and west were from anyplace on the map, how good the road would be. We counted all the military vehicles in convoys, mostly kept track of totals.

I hit the floor *fast* when an arch-typical red-faced with hat, BIG ol’ gun and gut cop, somewhere in the Deep South going to Tampa, snapped a look at the station wagon where someone had decided to give a double snort of piggy sound.

My baby brother, David, was born in 1960. We lived in West Palm Beach when the Everglades and airboats (and snakes!) were across the dirt road and adults were nervous about Cuba; Dad’s 7-Up floats were a big treat, and a $1M house, pssshhh, build it where?

There was also unending violence.  Church bombings, lynchings and vicious German shepherds, the assassinations of now iconic figures – JFK and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. But as a fact of life and death, VIETNAM, especially nightly body counts on the 6:00 news, over-shadowed this country like nothing since the American Civil War a century earlier.

History repeats itself because…

Lincoln said “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and after 3 1/2 years of Trump’s us/them-red/blue division, there’s nothing to indicate he was wrong. After 243 years of democratic rule of law, it looks like even agreeing that covering our faces to protect ourselves from each other during a pandemic is impossible to accomplish.

Prayer, even saying the Pledge of Allegiance, has been essentially stricken from our schools as a daily factor, replaced by on-going, onerous, and instant profusion of “tweets” that are taken as “Word from on high” by some.

COVID-19 may not have been caused by Trump’s administration, but his willingness to take the low road, and kill by 1,000 cuts, the rule of law in this country that we’ve held up to the rest of the world as something to be desired is the side that’s crumbled. That return to the Sixties was epitomized on Monday by a black man who died with a cop’s knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Even Brian Williams suggestion that parents get the Spot the ISS app, while not new but still definitely cool, cannot overcome how dramatically wrong what happened in Minneapolis, MN was, or that this country, actually the WORLD, knew it.

We can take this SpaceX mission as a slice of Goodness, and for police who took the extra step of interfacing with instead of tear gassing protestors in LA or a city near any of us, who physically KNELT in acknowledgement of that wrongness and silently asked for forgiveness, that wasn’t a lesson from the Sixties.

More like Colin Kapernick, 2016. Think about it.