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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

College or Pro basketball?

If you are a poor kid who is a great high school basketball player, what should you do when you get out of school and want to take financial advantage of your athletic ability? Should you go to college? Should you take a chance trying to make it in the professional ranks with the NBA or a foreign team? Those are mind bending questions for a kid. The NBA money sounds tempting but can you jump from the high school level to that of the pros? I doubt it. There are a few exceptions like LeBron James and Koby Bryant but they are a rarity.

I think a good player should go to college and experience the next level of basketball above high school competition. The good college programs give players maximum exposure and probably a little something on the side from the sports crazy alums. I remember years ago when a football player from Oklahoma was asked if he was going to turn pro early. He replied tongue in cheek that "I might but I hate to have to take a pay cut." That drew a nice laugh but more than once that situation has been true. That’s why many programs get put on probation.

If a kid can make it big in basketball at the college level, he can always leave school after one or two years and cash in then. A good college performance means more money from the pros than a kid could ever receive after high school. On the negative side is the injury factor. If he blows out a knee or an ACL in college that could be the end of a big payday for him. It’s a risk but I think it is one worth taking.

Going to college and leaving early seems to be the norm these days. In this year’s NCAA Tournament, there are close to thirty players who were college freshmen or sophomores within the last couple of years who turned professional in 2008 and 2009. Among them was Jerryd Bayless, a star at the University of Arizona who they could have really used this year. He might have been enough to get Arizona into the tournament. But, he chose to turn pro and take the big bucks. Why not? He is probably set for life financially and if he feels that he wants to complete his studies for a college degree, he can always do that in the off season.

Some writers are complaining because the field in the NCAA is weaker this year. So what? They are just college kids and it’s nice to see some of the smaller and more academic schools like Cornell of the Ivy League get in and have some success. If one wants to watch big time pro basketball, the NBA may be more appropriate.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The return of 3-D movies

A 1952 audience watching a 3-D film
If there is one thing you learn from getting older it is that there really isn’t anything new under the sun. Men’s suit lapels and neckties have gotten wider and narrower many times over the years. Skirt lengths always go up or down. Bell bottom pants have come and gone a few times as have a rotation between slicked back oily hair and the dry look.

Short hair has even been in style off and on. From 1957 to 1963, I had a flat top haircut. There was a guy in Amarillo, Texas who gave me the best flat top I ever had and he used plain old manual scissors to do the job. Today, it’s all electric clippers and some guys with great heads of hair have actually shaved their heads! The bald guys of the world can only roll their eyes at something so insane as destroying good hair.

There was a time when a stick shift car was about all you could get unless you wanted to pay extra for an automatic transmission. What a luxury! No more clutch to push in, just put the car in drive and push on the gas. In recent years the stick, or "conventional shift" as it was once known, has made a big comeback. See what I mean? If you have been around long enough, you know the cycles.

All right, now you have the buildup, so I am going to mention an item that was a failure when it came out in the early ‘50s and I predict it will be a passing oddity again. It’s 3-D movies. Avatar was a huge 3-D hit and it looks like Alice in Wonderland will be also. For us in the 50s it was the awful Bwana Devil with Robert Stack and House of Wax with Vincent Price. Once you saw a spear come at you in the audience or saw Price throw some hot oil into the crowd, that was about it. Within a year or so, we put away our special glasses and started looking forward to the next fad which I think was the hula hoop or the Whammo slingshot.

The word is already out that people are suffering headaches and nausea from the 3-D process. One eye doctor says that unless you have equally good vision in both eyes, you may experience those maladies. Who can say they have such miraculous eyesight?

Yes, while there is nothing new under the sun, the cycle keeps turning. I feel sorry for the tattoo lovers though. When that fad disappears, unfortunately the tattoo won’t. Keep that in mind when you think it would be a good idea to tattoo your current girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s name on your body.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

THIS AND THAT

Did you see the column in the 3-11 Republic where Washington Post writer Courtland Milloy berates Obama for being a smoker? He says the lips of the prez are purple probably because of the tar, ammonia and other garbage found in cigs. With as much time as Obama spends for photo ops these days, I’m surprised he has time to have a smoke. Maybe he is cupping one behind his back.....More Obama: After being rude to Senator McCain at the health summit, he later had a change of heart in a post summit letter to Congress where he admitted that there WERE some provisions added to legislation that shouldn’t have been....I’m sorry but I have to agree with Bill Cosby on the incorrect term "African American." However, I am willing to listen to reason. If everyone who considers themselves an African American can submit to me a short 500 word essay that they think can justify that term, I’ll take it into consideration....There are some good movies out at the moment but I hate crowded theaters. Barb and I went to the Camelview in the morning last week to see "The Ghost Writer" and it was unusually crowded. We had so many people around us crunching popcorn and tearing into cellophane packages that it became a distraction. I never eat anything during a movie and it makes me wonder what some people are thinking who go to the show at 10 o’clock in the morning and consume a gallon of Coke with a 55 gallon drum of popcorn....Constance McMillen is a lesbian who is a senior in high school in Jackson, Mississippi. She wanted to wear a tuxedo to her senior prom and take her girlfriend as a date. That sounds a bit unusual but nothing surprises me today so I thought "no big deal." However, the school district canceled the entire prom rather than grant her permission to go as she suggested. In San Francisco, I’m sure this sort of thing is typical but in the deep south? No way. She should have kept her mouth shut and simply showed up with her date at the prom....I think kids should have to wear school uniforms. It eliminates the need to send kids home and tell them to come back dressed appropriately. It also teaches them grooming habits which most of them sadly lack....Turner Classic Movies had one of my favorites on last night. It was "The More the Merrier" from 1943 starring Jean Arthur, Charles Coburn, and Joel McCrea. You may be saying "Who?" but those guys were great actors of the day and the film was a comedy about the housing shortage in Washington during World War II. It was remade in 1966 as "Walk, Don’t Run" with a backdrop of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It was Cary Grant’s last film and please don’t tell me you never heard of Cary Grant!

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Jumping rope without ropes?

Alexander McCall Smith writes a series of ten popular books concerning the "Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency." They are excellent as are his tales of "44 Scotland Street." In the latter he tells of a five year old boy in Edinburgh named Bertie who has an extremely overbearing and sheltering mother who believes he should learn Italian and play the Saxophone in lieu of Bertie’s desire to play Rugby, go fishing, and enjoy the perks of youth as his friends do. Because of his mother, Bertie is an unhappy kid.

I thought of poor Bertie when I read George Will’s column in the Sunday Republic. Will writes of a Massachusetts school where during physical education classes, kids jump rope. That sounds like good exercise to me except there is one important exception: the kids don’t use ropes! Why? Because it is the same old bunk I wrote about in an August 29, 2007 blog about how dodge ball and tag have been eliminated from the games kids like to play. The school feels that some kid’s feelings may be hurt if he/she is not effective as a rope jumper. What are these people thinking?

Parents are so worried about their child’s self esteem that they feel the necessity to constantly tell them how wonderful they are and avoid the risk that the kid might not be able to jump rope. These are the same parents who campaign for kid’s soccer teams to not count goals because it may damage the disposition of the kids who suck at soccer. And, of course, everybody gets a trophy even if they are total losers. It is incomprehensible that anyone would think this behavior is going to get any child prepared for real life.

A new book called "NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children" by Merryman and Bronson points out that parents who constantly praise their kids with silliness like notes in their lunch boxes telling them how incredibly intelligent they are, are doing their kids a great disservice. Those kids tend to falter when they encounter academic problems. Overpraised kids also tend to cheat "because they have not developed strategies for coping with failure."

In summation, Bronson and Merryman feel that parents need to lighten up and let kids be kids. I have never been a parent but I agree with that. I would rather have a kid who stands up for himself and comes home with a black eye instead of a kid who gets awarded a trophy for being incompetent.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The short, good life of Tubac, AZ

In this era of unemployment, a federal government lacking in common sense, threats of terrorism, liberals clamoring for government entitlements, and the dreaded "spread the wealth" mentality endorsed by the current administration, it’s refreshing to recall some history of the small town of Tubac, AZ in the late 1850s.

According to local historian Marshall Trimble, A young guy named Charles Poston arrived with his crew of miners in Tubac late in 1856, the year that Mexico gave up Tucson to the U.S. Tubac was located about 45 miles south of the Old Pueblo and, although it had been abandoned, most of the structures were still relatively intact. The Santa Cruz river and plenty of grass were nearby and when Poston’s group started a mining operation, large groups of Mexicans from the south arrived looking for jobs. It didn’t take long before Tubac was a busy little town.

Residents lived well in Tubac. Being in the middle of nowhere, they didn’t have the bureaucratic problems associated with being a large city. Poston later wrote that "we had no law but love and no occupation but labor; no government, no taxes, no public debt, no politics. It was a community in a perfect state of nature."

Poston loved the ladies, especially the Mexican senoritas. With most of the men of that time going to California for the gold rush, the ratio of women to men in Tubac was about 12 to 1. Sit back a moment guys and think about that: 12 to 1! Even Middy and desert ghost could score under those circumstances.

Poston also was a sort of magistrate which entitled him to perform marriages, baptisms, grant divorces and do several other functions. Food was brought in from Sonora along with other goods and the mines were paying off well with plenty of silver.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and the nirvana of Tubac wasn’t to last. Problems with Mexico and various Indian raids became common and by 1861 the Civil War had started which meant a couple of protective forts in the area were closed thus leaving the inhabitants to fend for themselves. After the Apaches destroyed Tubac in that year, Poston barely escaped with his life.

By the 1880's, Tubac was re-established and today is a quiet small town dominated with art galleries. It sounds very pleasant but I wonder if it can compare to the Tubac of the late 1850's when Charles Poston ran the town and the ratio of women to men was 12 to 1.

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