‘Stop, Drop, Shut’em Down, Open Up Shop’

The Good Wife has taken to teasing me about becoming a monarchist as a result of liking Netflix’s The Crown so much. If that was true, this remembrance would be about “Prince” Philip, not DMX who also died today at age 50 after suffering a heart attack two weeks ago.

Nice tribute from Otto Von Biz Markie @Passionweiss:

“RIP DMX. No one radiated more agony, pain, and atomic energy. The Cerberus from Yonkers, who suffered for all of our sins and his own. Maybe the rawest rapper of all-time, no pretense or frills, just pure adrenaline, lawless genius, and reckless abandon. The struggle incarnate.”

Shame On Me

For referencing this website. I promise it’s a one-off. This last paragraph is just too humorous.

“‘What gets me is the guts the guy had to just walk in like he belonged,’ said the security source. ‘He must have been a cool customer in the McKay Center. If he hadn’t tried to return punts at practice, he might still be out there because they might not have noticed him.'”

Thursday Required Reading

  1. Emerging From the Coronavirus. As someone with pandemic privilege—my state has done a very good job of limiting it and my circle of family and friends have been spared—I took my time with these personal stories on how profoundly Covid has changed millions of people’s lives.
  2. Diversity in Presidential Cabinets. As thorough and thoughtful a description and analysis as you will find. Should become a staple in political science courses.
  3. Lego enthusiast explains why the black market for the toy bricks is so lucrative. Fifty years too late for moi.
  4. The Robots Are Coming … to Mow Your Lawn. Yes please.
  5. How open and face to face will fall semester be? Sigh. Surprising how cynical the commenters are about higher education on this highly intellectual blog.

What My Critics Get Wrong

I refer to this as the “humble blog” because of the small readership. I routinely get proposals from search engine optimizers (presumably from India) who promise an increase in readership as a result of their coding prowess. But their pitches are impersonal and expensive, so you remain a part of a highly selective group of readers. 

Given that reality, I can’t afford to alienate any loyal readers, but that’s exactly what I did when I flippantly wrote that I wouldn’t be voting for Biden at age 82 in 2024. Check that, in hindsight, it wasn’t flippant, it was a semi-thought out point of view which of course anyone can disagree.

But one friend didn’t just disagree, he declared he was done with the humble blog. Who knew I was committing an unforgivable sin. Another very good friend somehow colluded with the first from across the country to ask if I’d vote for an assortment of especially revolting right-wing nut jobs if they ran against The Octogenarian.   

Since the infamous post first appeared, The Former Reader sent me a few text messages about “probably being too old” for this or that. For the record, he is 63 years young. Finally, a light bulb went off, he took it personally. Somehow, me not wanting an 86 year old President was saying his own expiration date was fast approaching. I wonder if the same is true for his Fellow Critic, who is two years the President’s junior.

That most certainly was not my intent. I would vote for both of my friends for President without hesitation. Here’s hoping someone shares that sentiment with The Former Reader.

The Former Reader’s and Fellow Critic’s doomsday electoral hypotheticals distract from the key question. Why the hell should any national political party have to settle for someone so elderly for one of the most difficult and important jobs in the world? Is there no man or woman as well qualified in their 40’s? What about their 50’s? 60’s? 70’s? An 82-86 year old Biden might do okay, and Fred Couples might win the Masters, but the odds are a lot better that Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, or Dustin Johnson is sporting the green jacket Sunday night. I probably won’t be voting for Biden in 2024, because I’ll be playing the odds.  

I do not expect this elaboration to have any salutary effect on my critics, known and unknown. In fact, I’ve probably just stepped into it a little deeper. Fellow Critic despises golf, so he’ll probably cancel me too. 

If a blog post falls in the forest, does anyone hear it?  

  

Giving Up On Friendship

Recently, I lost a friend. He didn’t die, he just decided he didn’t want to be friends anymore. The reason? Partisan politics. After twenty years. We were very good at preventing our considerable political differences from hindering our friendship until we weren’t.

I’m not sure how to write about it. I don’t want to give you just my version and I don’t want to try to summarize my former friend’s thinking. Suffice to say, he just got to the point where he said, “I can’t take it anymore.” I think “it” being anti-Trump liberalism.

I guess we weren’t as good as friends as I thought. Like many, many times before, I wanted to work it out. For the first time, he clearly didn’t.

I’ve learned at least two things. One is that I’m not immune from the relationship destroying political dissension that so many people are experiencing not just with friends, but family. I was naive about that, wrongly thinking that my interpersonal skills and educator sensibilities enabled me to sometimes befriend my political opposites. This failure has been humbling.

Another thing I’ve learned, or more accurately re-learned, is that all friendships are based upon reciprocity. Each side has to continually extend themselves. If one side stops for whatever reason, it’s out of the other side’s control. Most simply put, friendship can’t be forced.

I can’t think of any way to spin this as positive. It’s upsetting and my attitude about it, “Fuck it, it was stupid of me for thinking we were close,” is poor.

But I’m okay with having a poor attitude. I accept he doesn’t want to be friends. Have a nice life.

Sports, Sports, Sports

By which I mean college basketball and professional golf. We will return to regular programming once I get this stuff off my chest. 

Borrowing from a Dan Patrick Show mock headline, “It Suggs to be UCLA.” Not really of course, the team’s improbable run was the most fun I’ve had watching televised sports in a long, long time. Saturday night I thought we were going to win on the last possession of regulation when Juzang brought it up the court. He opted to get inside, which is understandable even though it didn’t work out. I dig how he mixes up his deadly long-range shooting with mid-range jumpers and lay ups. Juzang, pleaze let’s run it back one more year.

I also thought we were going to win it in double overtime. I thought outlasting them was our destiny. 

Wrong and wrong. But I was right about the fact that the Bruins would never quit. The 14 point spread was made by someone who hadn’t been watching them very closely. Thus proving Vegas data nerds can’t quantify heart. 

Yes, Suggs’s block was spectacular, but the long distance, high speed bounce pass through the UCLA defense was even more so. As good a pass as you’ll ever see at any level. And then, the presence of mind to know exactly when to release the final shot. Major props to someone who reminds me of a younger Damian Lillard. And major props to both coaches who are team first class acts. 

I expect the Zags Baylor to cut down the nets tonight.

Switching gears, how about the first major LPGA tournament of the year won by a 21 year-old Bruin who left school early. Here’s what one golf writer, Dylan Dethier, said about the state of women’s golf:

“Take a look at the ANA’s final leaderboard and you’ll see a game in great shape going forward. A rising star in big-bombing Patty Tavatanakit. Stalwart top guns Jin Young Ko and Sei Young Kim. Generational talent Inbee Park. American stars Nelly Korda and Danielle Kang. And Lydia Ko may be the most fascinating player in the entire game. The next major can’t come quickly enough.”  

Another writer asked if Ko’s 62 was the finest round in major golf history. Good question for which I’m sure PressingPause readers have many varied opinions.

Next, a video that will induce laughter from at least one PressingPause loyalist from central Ohio (and sometimes Kentucky). Along with any other bipartisan golf enthusiast—meaning they follow the EuroTour and the PGA Tour.

Lastly, my pick for the Masters. . . another Bruin. . . Patrick Cantlay. Are we still calling it the Masters?  

UCLA v Michigan @ 1900 Tonight

A lot of people my age were enthralled with the idea of UCLA because of the unprecedented success of John Wooden’s basketball teams. 

When I moved into UCLA’s “Southern Suites” across from Rieber Hall when they opened in January 1981, I promptly put a poster of John Wooden and his “Pyramid of Success” on the bedroom wall I shared with Johnny Sun from South Pas (Pasadena for the uninitiated). The fact that Johnny moved to the U.S. from Hong Kong when he was 12 is no excuse for what he asked me a few months later, “Who is that on the poster?” “Shit!” I replied, “how the hell did they ever admit you!” 

Nine months earlier, at freshman orientation, I made friends with a shy Asian-American student who for our purposes we’ll call “Ken”. As some of us shot hoops, Ken stood at a distance and silently watched. Somehow I ended up chatting with him and we palled around during subsequent activities. In addition, we took a Social Psychology class together our first year, during which Ken napped through a majority of the lectures. 

Yesterday, from Japan, Ken one-upped Johnny Sun by asking a couple of questions about the absurd poster that celebrates UCLA’s surprising run in the NCAA tournament. It started innocently enough, “Whose beaming face is on the little cherubs?” But then things quickly escalated into Johnny Sun territory, “I’m glad I didn’t guess. I thought it was Joe Biden (you wrote ‘J brothers’).” And then he brought it home, “So Bill’s name has a silent J in front? Who are the 3 seated? Me thought the center was Justin Trudeau.”

And with that reference to the Canadian Prime Minister, “Ken” is the new leader in the Clueless UCLA Clubhouse (neither of them would get that golf reference).

So for Ken and anyone else similarly flumoxed, a brief explanation.

Left to right, Jules Bernand, Jaime Jaquez Jr., and Johnny Juzang, three of the best players on this year’s team. Thus, the “J Brothers.” The little cherubs. . . Bill Walton, not 46. And for extra credit, note the tiny Mitch Cronin just below and to the left of Bernard. 

Ken, because I know you’re going to ask, Mick Cronin is the coach.

Go Bruins!   

 

Are You 50 Years Old?

Or stupendous and sixty? Or sublime and seventy? Or extraordinary and eighty?

If so, I highly recommend two essays.

  1. Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think by Arthur C. Brooks.

  2. How to Practice by Ann Patchett.

Both beautifully nudge the reader to contemplate the end-of-life. Patchett’s piece is the single best thing I’ve ever read on decluttering as an intentional act of preparing to die. If you think you might die someday, forget Marie Kondo, just sink deeply into Patchett’s story.

Patchett had me from the jump when she described the stages of life as “. . . youth, middle age, and . . . the downhill slalom.”

Ski on dear reader and read on.