Monday, February 26, 2007

Curmudgeon in the Wry 345

Monday, February 26, 2007---687 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 22 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
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Rave: Marketplace on NPR produced by American Public Media.
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On the Victrola: Chet Baker, “Too Cool”---an exquisite addition to the Starbucks Hear Music Opus Collection. Exceptional music recorded in the early 1950’s. Outstanding!
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Reading: “The Blonde” by Duane Swierczynski.
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Rant: I have just two words for all the liberals who say they could run this country like a business: Air America.
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Rave: Jazz and Ambrosia apples…deliciously sweet.
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Hmmmm: Next time you criticize the drug companies, ask yourself, when was the last time your doc diagnosed an illness and there was no medicine available for you at the local pharmacy?
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Truism: If Congress truly wanted to give everyone a tax break, they would enact meaningful simplification.
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Rant: Bank of America targeting illegal aliens as new credit card holders makes me think they aspire to be the Bank of Latin America.
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Didjaknow: The Red Army was so impressed by the techniques of Sherlock Holmes that they included some of his stories in their training manual.
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Rant: A-Rod saying that his relationship with Jeter has cooled might be the only honest thing he has said since he got to New York.
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Don’t kid a kidder: You know it is a joke when the Red Sox say they are going to hold Manny accountable.
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Long Shot: What were the odds that Kevin Federline would turn out to be the stable one?
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Rant: Dunk contests are a little like what Spiro Agnew once said about ghettos: if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
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Rimshot: Have you heard of the new Xanax patch? You put it over the mouth of whomever is causing you stress.
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Maybe: One auto maker has put a starter button on some of its models. Not to be outdone, I suspect the competition will come out with a model you start with a crank.
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Troubling factoid: America graduated at least twice as many lawyers as engineers in the last fifteen years. Just one reason why American know-how has become American knew-how.
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Broadcast news: I wonder why. Wolf Blitzer often doesn’t. Speak in complete. Sentences.
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Hmmmm: When will Hillary Clinton stop wearing her husband’s hand-me-down suits?
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(Nick) Name Game: They haven’t buried James Brown yet? Maybe they could rename him the “Hardest Working Man in Refrigeration.”
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Another Rimshot: Speaking of Tike Barber, if you asked a group of people what they think of the former Giants running back, would you call it a barber poll?
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Rant: You would never guess that I am one of those buzzkills opposed to fans storming the basketball court. I just cannot shake the quaint notion that the court belongs to the players, not obnoxious frat boys.
By the way---no one stormed the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium last nite when the Lady Dukies beat UNC to go undefeated in the regular season.
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Didjaknow II: The Ivy League in the only conference in Division I that does not have a tournament.
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Hmmmm: Does anyone outside the ACC know how good NC State freshman forward Brandon Costner is?
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I wonder: Who will be the first one buried, James Brown or Anna Nichol Smith.
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My oh my: The world must have turned upside down, as I find myself agreeing with California leftist Barbara Boxer on the airline passenger bill of rights. I hope she has the juice to make it happen.
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Rant: President Bush is going to allow 7,000 Iraqi refugees into the USA. I wonder how many will be terrorists?
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Rant: Nancy Grace deserves a premier place in media hell. She is symptomatic of a major problem, which is that serious criminal cases have been reduced to programming, which is to say entertainment. Given the long list of inaccurate statements she has made about the Duke Lacrosse case, she is not just incompetent but malevolent.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

29-0

It was a great afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium as the Duke women beat UNC by five points.

There is nothing like a victory over Carolina…nothing!

In addition, the Duke crowd has special venom for Ivory Latta after her classless behavior after UNC won last season at Cameron---as she hip-hopped around the stadium and popped her jersey at the Duke faithful.

There is not enough Grey Poupon in the free world to cover that hot dog. She has to be drama major, as do a couple other UNC girls.

The atmosphere seemed a tad more electric last season against Tennessee, but today was the loudest I have ever heard it at Cameron---at times, insanely so.

There were many heroes on the Duke side.

The two seniors, Alison Bales and Lindsey Harding, were magnificent. It was the most vocal I seen Ali, and she played smart ball all 40 minutes.

Lindsey Harding was on a mission and led the charge---and had zero turnovers! Pretty amazing.

Abby Waner had six steals and 13 points---and played tough defense.

Freshman Joy Cheek came off the bench and had 14 rebounds (eight offensive) and eight points in 24 minutes.

Duke shot 45.5% from the foul line, missing 18 shots…pathetic.

However, Duke had 14 steals (+7) and out rebounded UNC by six.

The Duke team was exhausted in the latter stages of the second half…lotsa grabbing their shorts on the foul shots.

Neither team left anything on the court…it was a war.

29-0 in the regular season.

I only hope there are three more wins in the ACC Tournament and six in the NCAA Tournament.

The initial two NCAA games are in Raleigh…I’ll be there.

Go Duke!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This year should see a most competitive Women’s NCAA Tournament.
I do think the Final Four will come from Duke, UNC, Tennessee, U-Conn, LSU and Oklahoma.
Ohio State, Stanford and Maryland could surprise me.
Vanderbilt, Purdue, North Carolina State and Michigan State will give a lot of teams match up problems. It would not shock me to find one or more of them to have a long run.
Michigan State is especially interesting. In freshman Allyssa DeHaan, they have a 6’9” center who is athletic, graceful and can move up and down the court. Unlike most the “big girls” in the women’s game she is not a wide body with skills. She is only going to get better. She shoots 52.5% from the field (12.3 ppg) and over 75% from the foul line. She averages 7.6 rebounds a game and has 118 blocks.
NCSU can dominate rebounding and is extremely well coached.
Vandy is a very smart team with an interest mix of talent. They only have three seniors and six freshmen…so they have to be smart all forty minutes.
Purdue has been in all games they have lost…they have a streaky toughness that could stagger a few opponents outside the Big 10.
Ohio State has only lost twice---@LSU and to Michigan State…but beat Oklahoma. Jessica Davenport averages about 19 ppg.
Oklahoma has the Paris twins…both are wide bodies, but Courtney has 50+ consecutive double doubles.
Stanford has three truly talented players starting with junior Candice Wiggins (16.3 ppg).
Freshman Jayne Appel averages 13.1 ppg and close to seven boards. Senior leadership comes from Brooke Smith (13.9 ppg/7.6 rpg). Very talented.
Maryland (like North Carolina) is a team loaded with talent that has not gotten better during the course of the season. That is a product of coaching or lack thereof.
They both can overwhelm an opponent on sheer talent. They are vulnerable to well-prepared teams that have good talent and intensity.
After a long season, I think the players on both teams tune out the coach after all the courtside humiliation and berating.
Coaches like Duke’s Coach G and NC State’s Kay Yow are the type the girls would kill for.
That said, the talent present at UNC and Maryland could trump everything. The fact that neither team has upgraded their skill level bothers me.
Beyond any doubt both Tennessee and U-Conn have gotten better since October. That is saying something when you consider the talent on those two benches.
LSU always plays tough and junior 6’6” Sylvia Fowles averages a double double with 17.6 ppg and 12.7 rpg. Quianna Chaney gets 12.6 ppg. Their losses to Tennessee, U-Conn, Georgia, Ole Miss and Baylor the total totaled just 15 points. So, they be had, but it takes a great effort.
Duke has improved from day one more than anyone. The early loss to injury of 6’5” post player Chante Black made everyone else play harder and Carrem Gay (6’2”) stepped up and is hell on wheels defensively and gets 8.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Carrem leads the team in fouls and must play smarter.
Lindsey Harding is a Player of Year candidate and the favorite at this time.
Alison Bales (6’7”) leads the free world in blocks. She has more than any other team in Division I.
Abby Waner averages over 14 points a game.
No one averages more than 30 minutes a game…so the bench is ready.
They play lock down defensive for 40 minutes and I feel (and hope) they are the team to beat.
Comments, opinions et. al. are appreciated.
Go Duke!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

NCAA Basketball 1

It is close enough to Selection Sunday that I some thoughts and queries to toss out.

Much has been said about the demise of Duke this season. It is well documented that they are too young, have no obvious floor leader at crunch time and no superstar.

They are a superior defensive team (opponents average 59.1 ppg), they are 4th in the ACC in rebounding margin (+5.4) and third in 3-point accuracy (37.8%).

This team is way below the Duke standard in free throw shooting (68.8%)----that is especially costly in close games.

Youth is everywhere---UNC starts 3 freshmen and they should be an NCAA #1 seed. Texas is freshman heavy and improving every game---they will be a major player in the tournament. U-Conn shows the other side of freshmen loaded teams. Youth is this age of early NBA defection is not an excuse.

I think Duke’s biggest problem is lack of depth. The first six players are worn out.

It would surprise me if they get past the Sweet Sixteen.

UNC has talent, depth and an outstanding coach.

There, I feel, as goes Rayshwn Terry, goes UNC. He is their senior leader, but far from the most naturally talented player. When he has been off a/o in foul trouble, UNC has problems beating good teams.

Tyler Hansboro is a monster player with great numbers. His only weakness is his inability to find an open man when he is double or triple teamed. Often he can get a basket on sheer power, but all too frequently, he loses the ball. In the tighter games that the tournament produces, the margin for error is narrowed---and every point is precious.

USA Today gave their projected top seeds by region this week and I have some questions.

Memphis as a #3. They are the team in Conference USA that matters. Their three losses were to Georgia Tech, at Tennessee and at Arizona. That is not a stellar bunch to lose to---Georgia Tech probably the best of the bunch. Out of conference wins: Oklahoma and Kentucky---not the cream of this year’s crop.
The Gonzaga victory was one point and the Zags had by then lost their best player.

I still fail to grasp the fascination with the Missouri Valley Conference, and am dumbfounded to see Southern Illinois as a three seed. They have lost to Arkansas (not a powerhouse), @ Indiana, @ N. Iowa, @ Bradley, @ Evansville---out of conference, the only notable win is Virginia Tech. Their other pre-conference wins were over teams from the Little Sisters of the Poor Conference.

BYU as a four seed baffles me.

They have beaten Air Force, Seton Hall and split with UNLV. Some losses to quality programs @ UCLA and @ Michigan State. Also managed to get beaten @ Lamar and @ Boise State.

I believe in Air Force and have started to believe UNLV could be thorn in the side of a few teams.

The Pac Ten is over rated---Big Twelve under rated---ACC does not get respect it deserves---SEC having a down season---Big East is too big and unwieldy for my taste---Big Ten is top heavy.

Comments are welcome.

Go Duke!

Curmudgeon in the Wry 344

Wednesday, February 21, 2007---492 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 42 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
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Rave: Thom Schuyler’s blog.
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On the Victrola: “All of Me”---Benny Carter
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Reading: “High Profile” by Robert B. Parker
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Rant: Who is the idiot that thinks Tom Cruise and Ben Stiller can have a hit with “The Hardy Men”---about the Hardy Boys all grown up?
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Gee Whiz: Some fool robbed John’s Grill in San Francisco. Their take: a signed reproduction of the Maltese Falcon, as well as several vintage and signed books by and about the author of “The Maltese Falcon,” Dashiell Hammett.
Sounds like a case for Sam Spade and HerbCaen.
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Rave: The David Halberstam article on the NFL entitled, “The Ritual Begins” in the February 5th edition of Sports Illustrated (Volume 106, No. 5). Genuinely shows the history of how the NFL has become a huge part of American pop culture.
I myself have not cared about the NFL since the Colts were stolen from Baltimore.
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Quote: “There is no bad place to sleep when you are drunk.”---Dino Tripodis.
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Rant: Anyone who thinks North Korea will live up to their end of the bargain should take up residence in Cinderella’s Castle in Fantasyland…starting with the Commander in Chief.
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Hmmmm: Is Hugh Grant the Dorian Gray of film? He never ages and always plays the same part.
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Truism: The closer you get to thirty, the more you wish you were twenty and the more you act like you are forty.
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Rant: The definition of “excess” is the NBA All-Star game in Las Vegas.
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Rave: “CSI-SVU’s” Mariska Hargity is truly worth the $6.5 million per season she is getting on her new contract. She is genuinely value added. She’s got game.
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I don’t care about: The NBA, political correctness, American Idol, Justin Timberlake, reality shows, Jim Carey, Sundance Festival, Janet Evanovich, James Patterson, Keith Olberman, Whoopie Goldberg, Chris Berman.
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I do care about: College basketball (men’s and women’s), college lacrosse (men’s and women’s), Robert Downey Jr., “Friday Night Lights,” “Studio 60,” Woody Allen, Sandra Bullock, Michael Connelly, “Shark,” James W. Hall, Tucker Carlson, Robin Williams.
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Rant: The gratuitous dousing of the winning coach with all manner of liquids ranks right up there with the pointless act of the bride and groom smearing wedding cake all over one another’s faces.
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Hmmm: Nancy Pelosi was going to fly AirTran, but they will not allow her to shriek and stand up in her seat.
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Truism: He who hesitates is not only lost, but miles from the next exit.
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Rant: Why is that whenever the USA “negotiates” with another country, the only thing negotiated is the amount of dough we will give them?
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.