Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ack! More Sports!!

Of all the people who show up to play tennis here, Tony is probably the worst player. He just doesn't get how to play the game. It's not that Tony, a native of China, has no athletic background. He's played quite a bit - of soccer. I asked him once if China had any kind of soccer "major league". They do, he said, and he even played in it. But the league is corrupt. You have to do things like bribe the officials. I don't expect to have much use for this information, but if you find yourself in Shanghai and someone tries to get you to lay down a bet, you might just keep it in mind.

The whole world, it seems, would like the Washington, D.C. franchise in the NFL to change the team's name to something other than the "Redskins". The team's owner says they will NEVER change. But what if you were the owner? What would make a good but unoffensive name for a football team based in the nation's capital? The "Commanders"? The "Tomahawks"? The "Potomacs"? Could we satisfy just one political side and call them the "Gippers" in honor of one of Ronald Reagan's best-known (and football-based) movie roles? I'm open to suggestion. Anybody.....?

I think it was just last year I mentioned in this space the possibility of a woman making the roster of a top level male pro athletic team. It hasn't quite happened yet, and still may not, but we're considerably closer to it happening than we used to be. The goalie from the gold medal-winning Canadian women's team has signed with a minor league men's team in Canada. I'm not sure how she's doing, but there's nothing wrong with wishing her the best. The whole country knows her now anyway, so it will be a loooonnngg time before she's not famous up North.   

Monday, March 24, 2014

Seen and Heard

We had something last weekend that our area hasn't had in awhile, I think. Our local exhibition hall put on a show of live professional wrestling.
I didn't make the show, but I can't help wondering: Is this a sign of an improving economy because it means people are willing to take financial risk on an unsure venture, OR is it the sign of a bad economy when  healthy male adults are forced to take on the personal risks that accompany wrestling exhibitions? I suppose I'll know in a year or two.

The Flight 370 business has people all over the world scratching their heads in an effort to know what exactly happened. I have no theories of any kind. I have noticed, however, that unlike some disasters, no one has found a way (yet!) to politicize the whole thing. But I wouldn't pretend that someone isn't trying to find a way to do just that.

I promised myself that I would try to watch more British Premier League soccer this year, and I have. Some of the games are great, and the announcers sometimes say some surprising things. Last week, a game between two league leaders became a 6-0 rout. It got my attention when one of the commentators described the losing team as having "been put to the sword". Yikes!

Finally, there's this new commercial from Taco Bell. This guy has a girlfriend. She's pretty appealing, but she has one unuaual characteristic. She's always stuffing herself with his Taco Bell food. Somehow, it's funny.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My New Team

I woke up this morning thinking I had just experienced a bad dream. Then  I realized that it was reality that was the real disaster.
You see, my Hawkeyes finished their once-glittering season by losing seven of their last eight games, the last a "play-in" game to earn the 11th seed in their NCAA division. The Hawkeye star was held to 3 of 15 shooting, but they kept a small lead until late in the game, when they had to hit a shot to get into overtime. It went in, but then it all went over the cliff in OT, ending the season. The star is finished, and so is one of their top rebounders. Pretty sad for a team that was challenging for the Big Ten title a month ago. Today's big BYU loss didn't help matters either, even though that wasn't part of my dream.
Maybe I need a new team to root for before I become too old to remember which team is which. I spent some time today thinking of the options:
     1. BYU - Well, I went there and met Mona there, too, so I can't say nothing good ever took place in Cougarville. They have good teams sometimes, but the place is just so....paternal. I feel as though they're still giving out orders even though it's been 40 years and 1000 miles.
     2 Cal - It's not terrifically far, but no way we'll ever go there to a game, and we have no other connection to the place. That goes for Stanford, too, unless you remember that Herbert Hoover (a native Iowan) was part of the 1st Stanford graduating class.
     3 Iowa State - There are some plusses there, but it always seems to me to be too much like Nebraska on the cheap. It's hard to like their colors, as well.
     4 Northern Iowa or Drake - What's the biggest thing that ever comes from Cedar Falls or Des Moines? Why, it's the rare victory over Iowa!
     5 Humboldt State. It's the closest school, but the teams are up and down, and not Division I. Right now their best teams are softball and crew racing. They don't even have tennis. I'd walk across the street to watch them, but it would have to be a nice day.
     6 Cornell College - They have some good (Division III) teams, which I used to watch when we lived a few blocks away, but that was over 25 years ago. I do still have one of their T-shirts. It's for the women's tennis team of 2002-3. They had me practice with them a few times.
Wow. The whole list seems like pretty thin gruel. When you get right down to it, I'm either stuck with the Hawkeyes, or limiting myself to one season (summer) watching baseball's semipro Humboldt Crabs. Yup, that's their real name, and they win lots of games. Then again, I could give the Buffalo Wild Wings a shot - if I only knew what league they're in and what they play.

It seems my little mockery of Arizona in this space will have to end. Our oldest son Zach and his family are moving there (Peoria, which I guess is near Scottsdale) in about a week. Sigh. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Yet Another Milestone

The good folks at Blogspot have an announcement that they are willing to let me make. This is the 400th blog entry under this title, a once/week habit that now stretches back to July 2006.
This milestone causes me to look things over a bit to discover if there's anything I could do for the  readers, of which there are now, I'm guessing, well under ten - in the world.

Here are the things I promise. Anybody out there? Anybody?
     1. Make the entries a little shorter.
     2. Make entries that have some connection to things or people I might actually know. The babies of the family? Yes. Kim Jong Un? Maybe not so much.
     3. Try to be funny. Not everyone thinks the same things are funny, but I think trying to visualize Pat Robertson's nightly "meeting" with God is funny.
     4. Don't feel bound to a weekly schedule. This isn't the Sunday paper.
     5. Drop the reminder of new blog entries. They probably get greeted with rolled eyes instead of Christmas morning delight anyway. Want to read? You choose whether to do it now or next year. Gosh knows I won't ask, either.

Finally, there's what happened last week - to the Lakers. For decades, the team has been an NBA mainstay, employing a glittering array of roundball talent that even includes the player seen on the league's logo.
But there's no guarantee that it all continues, and this year, for a variety of reasons, the Lakers are more often victim than victor. Everyone hopes that it will turn around, but this season's been both long and sad.
The Lakers share an arena with the L. A. Clippers who for years were seen as an inept team in perpetual rebuilding mode owing to its feckless owner.   
But, as noted above, things can change, and they have for the Clippers, now considered one of the league's hot franchises with a load of talent and the ability to make good use of it.
Last week the two teams met, and with stunning results. The Clippers won by 55 (!) points, handing the Lakers their worst loss EVER. Oy.
These things never end, and there is more than a small chance that the Lakers will bounce back. I mean, if you were a 6'9" basketball pro paid millions every year, would you rather live in Oklahoma City, Charlotte - or Los Angeles? 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Free to....What?

I have not become a genius in the years this blog has been written. I have discovered, however, that writing commentary on issues that aren't even off the front page of the paper carries a little danger. That's because things can change quickly, and words that are floating around the internet today may seem kind of, ah, stupid in just a few weeks, let alone in future years.
That being the case, I don't think I should try to resolve the Ukraine situation in this space. It's all too new, and I, with zero personal military experience, am more liable to write something stupid than to nail down the truth the first time out. Maybe some other time.

 An observer might think that Arizona not only has a Republican majority in its legislature, but that the state's attitude toward certain controversial measures is meaner, less tolerant and more partisan than other places. I personally can't agree. As it happens, the same things have been proposed in other states, at nearly the same time, often using the same words.
But Arizona has been at the front of the line in passing hard right legislation, including one guaranteeing business owners the right to decline service to people on the grounds of religious conviction.   
On the surface, this seems harmless enough. People who build their own businesses should be able to turn away certain types, shouldn't they? Certainly we don't want the government telling us who we can and can't serve, right? There are plenty of other places those gays, Hindus, stud-faced hippies, tattooed losers and blacks can go, and that's just what we want them to do. Anything else means somebody has decided my freedom isn't worth having. I disagree.
But, like most things, reality isn't that simple. It was that same government we hate so much that built the road to our store, and they've done lots of other things over the years which made it possible for us to open in the first place. And we're not talking about people with no shirts or shoes here, but about people who really have no plan to take away our faith. They're just folks who want what we sell, which is supposed to be good news. Unless you find a way to make your business a private club of some kind serving members only, presumably white Christians just like us, then you are serving the public, and that means everyone, whether you like their lifestyle or not.
You probably know how it turned out in Arizona. Big business, with the help of the state's two Republican senators, in an effort to save the Superbowl planned for Phoenix, lobbied hard against the measure after it passed both legislative houses. Last week, the governor vetoed the bill. Look for something similar near you soon.