Saturday, January 10, 2009


The college basketball season has begun. Here in North Carolina this is a near religious event. This means that I have to spend the next four months telling people that I don't have a team that I follow. It means that you can't turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper without seeing basketball stories.

So why do you hate college basketball, Gilbert? Excellent question, glad that you asked. First, let me elaborate. I don't just hate college basketball, I also hate pro basketball, high school basketball, and almost all other organized forms of the game. Let me share my reasons with you.

The game of basketball has changed dramatically in the last thirty or forty years. It has changed so much that if James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, came back to life, he wouldn't recognize the game that they play today.

Basketball players get taller every year. When I was in high school, we had a couple of players that were six feet tall. Today that would be a small middle school team. I think we are feeding the little bastards too well. The goals in basketball are still set at a height of ten feet. With players getting taller, wouldn't it make sense to raise the goals?? Let's face it, how much athletic ability does it take for a guy who is 7'4" to grab the ball and cram it through the hoop??

Let me insert a disclaimer here and tell you that my personal experience with organized basketball is extremely limited. In 1968, I was the scorekeeper for the Pierce Junior High team in Tampa for part of the season.

Junior high school basketball in Tampa in 1968 was nothing like basketball today. The only time that we played in a gym was during regular season games. They were played at high schools, junior high schools didn't have gyms. The teams practiced outside on concrete and asphalt courts. How many schools do that today?

The junior varsity teams played regular season games at their schools, they didn't go to the high schools. They played outside on concrete or asphalt courts. Players today are pussies. They whine if the air conditioning goes out in the gym. In 1968 the JV's just hoped that it wouldn't rain. Today when a player falls, some kid runs out and wipes up the sweat from the floor with a towel. In a JV game at Pierce, if someone fell, they took a broom and swept his skin off the court, then resumed play.

Fouls? I see guys in games on TV take dives and lunges that an Olympic gymnast would envy . Let's face it. When a 250 lb guy sails into the cheap seats with a bump on his arm, something's wrong. These guys are obviously trying for Emmys, not playing basketball. At Pierce, a foul had to include stitches or a splint or at least some smelling salts. If it didn't, Coach Beltzner would just scream "Let them play!" at the officials.

Kids playing in middle school or high school travel to games in "Activity" buses or vans. At Pierce we loaded up Coach Beltzner's Ranchero and headed out. Another coach would throw the starters in his car and follow. I guess that if anyone fell out of the Ranchero, the other car might pick them up.

I will wrap this rant up with a word about players. The worst guy on our team was Billy Aucoin. He made the team because he tried harder than anyone. He would be out on the court practicing long after everyone else had gone home. Billy was the ultimate overachiever. He moved the next year and I lost track of him. He has probably been the governor of some state or something. If not, he's still running for the job.

Next week in Part 2, we explore ball handling practices.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Road trip rant!!

In the 1960's I bought a book at the Salvation Army in Tampa that was a humorous history of Russia. I can't remember the title, don't bother asking. My favorite part of the book was about the death of Rasputin. After Rasputin was shot and killed, his body was thrown into the River Neva. An angry mob pulled his body out of the river and set it on fire. This is believed to be the origin of the phrase, "Better lit then Neva." I wrote the following post before Christmas and thought that I had posted it, I had not. But as they say in Russia, better lit than Neva.

My mother had partial hip replacement surgery last week and was not doing well, so I drove to Florida on Thursday to see her for a couple of days. The thrill of the 682 mile, 13 hour drive (each way) is more than words can describe, but I will give it a shot.

Two words that apparently no driver understands, "SPEED LIMIT". There's nothing to compare with driving in the right lane with some moron behind me flashing his lights. Where the hell am I supposed to drive when doing the speed limit? There's a way for states to generate revenue, cut fuel consumption, and cut highway traffic deaths. How about enforcing the speed limit laws? Instead of staging roadblocks to find out what desperado doesn't have his seatbelt buckled, how about stopping the bastard who is riding my bumper at 70 MPH. BONUS!! This could also reduce some of those road rage incidents. I was reluctant to shoot at those morons riding my bumper and then flipping me as they went by due to the fact that I only had about 100 rounds in the van with me. Memo to self: Need to plan on carrying about 50 rounds per 100 miles on road trips.

Clean restrooms. It's easier to find hairs on my head than clean restrooms in Georgia. Apparently the state has passed some sort of law discouraging businesses from cleaning restrooms. At least, it appears to be the case. I stopped at a Chick-Fil-A in Commerce, Georgia. At 10:30 A.M., the stale urine stench in the restroom was overwhelming, the floor and the fixtures were dirty. On the plus side there were plenty of paper towels and soap, as these items are apparently rarely used in the Peach State.

Alabama, what can I say? Alabama is a lot like television, a vast wasteland. I am sure that there are nice parts of Alabama, but I haven't been there yet. I don't have the time or patience to search for such small areas. I traveled US 331 from Montgomery to Florida. If you are ever wondering where they filmed "Green Acres", take that drive. That area of Alabama makes Caswell County look like Beverly Hills.

Florida. I hate the traffic in Charlotte, but the traffic in the Fort Walton Beach area is almost as bad. Where the hell did all of these people come from and where are they going in such a hurry?? See SPEED LIMITS above for more details.

Driving back on Saturday, I encountered the great mass of "recession traffic". As I traveled from Montgomery to Greensboro on I-85, I could see that there were mobs of shoppers at the malls and shopping centers that line I-85. Parking spaces appeared scarce and traffic near shopping areas was heavy. Apparently word of the recession has not reached this area.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy New Year!! Bah! Humbug!

2009 has finally arrived! Big deal! What's all the fuss about? Do we celebrate the start of a new month? The start of a new day or new week? Why celebrate the start of a new year?

I love the people who rave about all the great things that the new year will bring and then proceed to get drunk to celebrate the start of the new year. That's a great strategy. The new year is going to be so wonderful that these people waste the first day of it partying until they are shit-faced and then spend the rest of the day nursing a hangover. These people don't need a new year, they need a course in planning. Remember your 6 P's, proper planning prevents piss poor performance.

I actually had high hopes for the beginning of the new year. I had hoped that I would wake on the morning of January 1, and like Bobby in "Dallas", would find that 2008 was all just a bad dream. I had hoped that I would wake and it would be January 1, 2008 not 2009. There would have been no President Obama, no talk of Senator Caroline Kennedy, no Hillary Clinton campaign, and no Senator Kay Hagan (AKA Goober spoofs Bette Midler). It was not to be, I woke up and realized that it had all happened. At least, the Sarah Palin part was worthwhile.

You don't need to wait for a new year to resolve to change your life. You can raise your standard of living, you can help your children, you can change the world, you can be more productive. You can get up tomorrow morning and resolve to never vote Democratic again.