Sunday, April 29, 2007
Tonight's game against Golden State was a classic; by far, the best of the playoffs thus far. But once again, the Mavericks showed a disturbing propensity for gagging in the clutch; Golden State dominated the end of every quarter, and Dallas only hit the key threes after the game was out of reach. Once again in a critical game, the Mavericks lost it more than their opponent won it.
There's no doubt that they could come back, but it sure looks like they're doubting themselves now. And prediction notwithstanding, you can sign me up for the Warriors bandwagon - at this point, proving Chuckles the Clown Barkley wrong would more than make up for a bad prediction. It's hard to know what goes through Barkley's mind sometimes - I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he sure sounded homophobic tonight with his comments about the Bay Area. But homophobic or not, he was definitely an ass.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Stuff like this drives me absolutely nuts:
"We have a lot of bullying, both boys and girls," said San Francisco police Officer Frances Terry, who is the school's resource officer. "There's so much violence in the community.''
Terry coordinated the effort at the middle school using a curriculum developed by Stanford University researchers called SMART -- Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television.
A controlled study of the curriculum found it reduced verbal aggression on the playground by 50 percent and physical aggression by 40 percent, said Robinson, who helped create the program.
"Kids are directly learning the behavior by watching or playing video games," Robinson said. In addition, children become numb to the violence on the screens, desensitizing them to the repercussions of aggressive behavior, he added.
"Thirdly, it really reinforces that aggression and violence is a way of solving problems," Robinson said.
Boy, those kids today - really stupid, aren't they? I have two of them, and you know what? I really do think that they can tell the difference between the violence on a television program or video game and violence in real life. And when you consider that the single most violent, destructive and despicable thing shown on TV in our lifetimes was inflicted on the country last week by NBC News, a "respectable" part of the media, it just shows you how wrong-headed and hypocritical this entire effort is. In the end, it makes people feel good about themselves, for doing absolutely nothing.
And please...people can rant and rave all they want about the violence in video games like "God of War" and "Call of Duty," but given the restricted curriculum that education accountability efforts like No Child Left Behind has left them with, where else can kids turn to develop the critical thinking skills that...hey, what do you know!...will actually help them develop the skills necessary to tell the difference between TV and real violence?
Friday, April 20, 2007
Last year's NBA finals saw the complete public unveiling of a new superstar (Dwayne Wade, who would close out the year being selected as Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated), and a great story featuring a scrappy, out-manned underdog with a crusty old coach (OK, so Pat Riley isn't that old, but he ain't what he used to be, either) coming from off the deck to score an unexpected, somewhat miraculous victory. But the real story of last year's Final was the aforementioned epic collapse of the Mavericks, who went about as far as a team can possibly go in terms of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Much like the 1989 Oakland Athletics, who were reeling after having been upset the previous year by a team clearly inferior to them in virtually every respect, the Mavericks have bounced back this year with a vengeance, never looking back from an improbable 0-4 start to make a serious run at the Holy Grail of 70 regular season wins. They are battle-tested, they learned a critical lesson last year, and they will defeat the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Championship.
Even though, it is probably fair to say, the four best teams in the NBA are all in the Western Conference.
Friday, April 13, 2007
- A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. There is something in Irving's masterpiece for every imaginable mood. If you want to laugh out loud, read the performance of A Christmas Carol. If you want to get angry, read about Randy White. If you want to marvel at the best of human nature, read about Owen's gift to John. And if you want to cry, read the ending.
- LA Requiem, by Robert Crais. Every book he's written qualifies as an excellent thriller. This one is so much better than the rest that it's scary.
- The Chill, by Ross McDonald. Hopefully, over time McDonald's role as the successor to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler won't be forgotten.
- LA Confidential, by James Ellroy. When the threads of this story begin to come together in the third act, it feels like a miracle.
- It, by Stephen King. He wrote great books before, and he's written great books since, but he will never be able to top this epic.
- Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. There's nothing to say that hasn't already been said. Sparkling on every page.
- Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry. For sheer adventure, how can you top a cattle drive? And some of the most sharply written, well defined characters of any book.
- Ball Four, by Jim Bouton. The funniest, and perhaps truest, book written about baseball (or any sport, for that matter).
- The Godfather, by Mario Puzo. Pulp fiction it may be, but there is a reason the movie was so great, after all.
- I'm going to cheat in the last one, and just say anything in the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben, the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly, or the Lucas Davenport series by John Sandford. You really can't go wrong with any of them.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Alister Mackenzie, co-designer of Augusta National (hat tip: Geoff Shackelford)
Monday, April 09, 2007
That's the positive spin.
By winning the Masters, Zach Johnson joins Charles Coody and Tommy Aaron in that elite group of professional golfers whose sole contribution to the history of golf was their unlikely Masters victory.
That's the mean-spirited version.
What I feel is somewhere in between. Zach, who I will freely admit to never having heard of until this past weekend, seems to be a good kid with a good head on his shoulders. On the other hand, it's clear that the true "winner" this weekend was Augusta National, which kicked everyone's butt, and I don't necessarily see that as a good thing at all.
The "Tiger-proofing" of Augusta National now appears to be complete. However, the absurdity of calling it that becomes plain when one realizes that only through a colossal fluke did Tiger not win the tournament. Barring another miracle, it's not as if the green-jacketed brain trust has done anything other than ensure that very few players other than Tiger can ever win this thing, as long as he's in his prime. The fact that Tiger played poorly for most of the weekend and still came within two strokes of winning is significant. And one thing is for certain - Tiger's play was as joyless an exercise as I've ever seen, in any professional sport. Frankly, it was excruciating to watch - he was clearly pissed off nearly the entire time, and should probably give that some thought once he cools down a bit.
Once upon a time, each of the major golf tournaments had their own identity. Thanks to Hootie Johnson and Tom Fazio, the Masters is perilously close to losing its identity. The course is still beautiful; the music still saccharine; the announcers still reverent. But in their decade-long quest to create the "perfect test of golf," the Masters has forgotten what it was all about. The Masters was about Palmer going birdie-birdie to win by a stroke. The Masters was Gary Player shooting 64 on the final day to shock the world. The Masters was Jack Nicklaus outdueling Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller by matching them, birdie for birdie and eagle for eagle. The Masters was that same Nicklaus, shooting 30 on the back nine to complete the single most exciting day in the history of professional golf. And yes, the Masters was Tiger Woods, annihilating the field and making the whole thing look easy.
Those days appear to be gone for good. One can argue whether or not the course is "better" than it used to be. That's a matter of opinion. But it is a fact that absent a retro movement in Augusta, the Masters stands to lose its identity - and become the U.S. Open, held in the Spring, with a more exclusive field, and on a prettier course. And that is truly sad.