Friday, March 20, 2015

Tolkien quotes


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b7/Unico_Anello.png/244px-Unico_Anello.png

 

 

 

While I was recovering from an illness recently, I was laying in bed with a fever. I didn't really feel all that bad, and have been much sicker in my life with a flu or even a cold.  But I had in my head that if my temperature went up above a certain number, my doctor had instructed me to call them and head to the emergency room. That was the real problem. While I was laying there, I thought about Sam and Frodo climbing Mount Doom. I do that purposefully when I am facing any kind of challenge because I find the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) immensely pleasurable to think about, but also because, though it is fiction, I find it very inspiring. I thought I'd go over some of the great quotes from my favorite novel(s) of the last century, probably of all time. The beautiful ring depicted above and the words of the quotes were taken from Wikiquote. Of course, it is not Tolkien's words, but my own comments in bold that will be so important to the world in the future, second only to the songs and music of Bill and Ted. 

*

 

"We cannot use the Ruling Ring. That we now know too well. It belongs to Sauron and was made by him alone, and is altogether evil."

 

The ring is magical. There are varying interpretations of what a ring means symbolically, including in Fraser, but, for me, more than anything rings represent possession and/or allegiance. The history of magical rings is quite old. I trace it back to Ancient Greece, Plato in fact, who tells of an ancient King of Persia who had a magic ring that made the wearer invisible, but perhaps there are older examples. The Persian king, Gyges, is in fact almost certainly an historical character, and Herodotus, who came before Plato, has no such story about him, though Gyges also figured right near the beginning of his Histories; nor is there anything about Gyges and a ring in historical documents. LOTR is also about technology and its destruction of culture. This makes sense.  Sometimes there is more than one oral tradition or documents lost to history that we know nothing about and it surfaces as if from nowhere. Maybe that's what happened. Or maybe, perhaps like Atlantis, Plato made it up.

Much of LOTR was about the destruction of the world he knew and loved by modern technology. In any era, technology makes things easier and when things are easier, there are definitely cultural ramifications. Of course, we live in a hyper technological age, with new discoveries literally every day, and we know that it can both be a harbinger of war or peace (like atomic energy). In the end of the day, our characters will determine the effect of technology upon us, just as the character of the ring bearer determined its effect upon them.

 
*


"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."

 

Frodo spoke these words in his going away speech near the beginning of the tale just before he put on the ring and disappeared. It puzzled the other hobbits, and it puzzled me for a while too. But, it wasn't as tough as all that once I thought about it. It means he wishes he knew many of them better and he liked some of them better than they deserved.

 

*

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began,
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say

 

A pretty good Tolkien poem. But, it is just a little reminiscent of Frost's Road Not Taken?  I have no idea if there is any real connection, but it's food for thought.

 
*


"'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'"

 

These are the wisest words in the LOTR. So, often people rue their fate when things out of their control happen, but, we have choice of our attitude and how we handle it. If we do it well, we do it well. If not, not. But it's our to make. Gandalf's words reminds me a little bit of those of Viktor Frankl in his wonderful Man's Search for Meaning - "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."

*

 

"What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!'
'Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.'"

 

That would seem like wisdom but for the warning in my heart. Actually, I pawned that line from Frodo in his first meeting with Aragorn. Gandalf's words also seem wise. But, too much pity, too much empathy can backfire on us if we aren't careful about it. Sometimes it can even destroy those we empathize with.  Wisdom isn't just about knowing wise things, but in being able to apply them in the gazillions of possible situations.

 
*


"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many – yours not least."

 

There's a lot there, of course. I just commented on having too much pity? The "it" he deserves under discussion is death. Obviously, Gollum did have a role to play, mostly for ill, but arguably for good as his last minute bite and fall into the pit stopped Frodo from succumbing? As to dealing out death, I have to admit I am a waffler.  For a long time I could not make up my mind about the death penalty and finally decided against it because of the inability of even the best jury to determine guilt or innocence with certainty under such emotional circumstances. However, in the last few years, I've reconsidered that in some cases, where there's a high degree of certainty (e.g., many independent witnesses, admissions, etc.) it's just fine, even preferable. The LIRR killer, Colin Ferguson and that Norwegian Nazi, Breivik come to mind.

*


"He often used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. 'It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,' he used to say. 'You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.'"


And that's what makes life so much fun, knucklehead.

*


"But it is not your own Shire. Others dwelt here before Hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out."

*


Still the question today. How much should we intervene in the world? We are not isolationists anymore, for the most part - Rand Paul and friends excepted. I think most people now agree in retrospect that we should have intervened in WWI and WWII sooner. But, even with such a universal loathed group as ISIS, we can't decide how much is it our business.

*


"Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger."

That's true, but, fortunately, some people do. Often, they get crushed, but sometimes, given time and good luck, they make it better for all of us.


*

"Seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill."


I give unsolicited advice all the time, if I think I can help someone. Usually (it seems) appreciated, especially when I am telling them what everyone else knows or it is something they are looking for permission to feel a certain way about or to have someone else say it first. Almost always I find, like Dorothy, they knew it all the time themselves, but did not want to face it for one reason or another.  Sometimes the advice is rejected politiely only to come back to me as their own idea a day, a month or a year later. I try not to say "But, I said that and you told me I was crazy," although there are times I do, usually tearing at my hair while saying it.  And sometimes giving unsolicited advice pisses people off. I've had it happen a few times. One times when my friend just couldn't bear what I had to say, she screamed at me. Like any brave man facing an enraged woman, I gave up.  I thought that's the way it would go down, but I thought the consequences of not saying it made it worthwhile. I literally can't stand it when people agree with their friends just to make them happy, even when the consequences are serious.  For better or worse, I'm not going to stop anyway. It's my nature.

*


"'Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the Little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless—before the Dark Lord came from Outside.'"


One of my favorite of my own posts is Will the real Tom Bombadil please stand up (7/17/07).  

*


"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost
;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."


Great poem-song. Very derivative of others, but, what did Tolkien love more than English literature.

*


"He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."


Unless of course, he was insured, insurance being one of the greatest inventions ever. When teenagers went down my street smashing windows on cars, it wasn't the government or religion that helped us, but insurance.

*


"Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not."


Susan Walker: "You mean it's like, 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.'" Doris Walker: "Yes."

Susan Walker: "I thought so."

(Miracle on 34th Street)

 

"Never tell me the odds."

(Star Wars)

 

*


"Let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning."

 

So, they are gambling that though Sauron knows they have the ring, he will never suspect they mean to destroy it, because only thinking of power, he will think that is so of them too. That's a little too pat. I found practicing law that I could never count on what the other side thought. And that it was best not to underestimate them. But, sometimes it was true.


*
 

"I will take the Ring," he said, "though I do not know the way."

 

Welcome to our world, Frodo.

*

 

"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish."

 

This runs contrary to my own motto: "Never put off anything til tomorrow that you can put off indefinitely." Hmm. Yeah, I like mine better.

 


“Whoa, Sam Gamgee!” he said aloud. “Your legs are too short, so use your head!”

 

As I recently wrote in a post (8/28/14), Sam was the real hero of LOTR, however comic he was. You wouldn't expect that from Frodo, who was always making the wrong choice.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sport's trivia day

Been lax this month. No excuse. I just didn't think the things I was thinking about would interest anyone. And, please don't comment that they are never interesting to anyone else. These are just some sport's trivia question that I liked. Not that I'm some kind of sport's trivia expert at all, and I had to look up the answers to some of which I only had a general idea. The answer key is at the end so jot down them so you don't accidentally see the rest.




1. There has been only one successful drop kick in the NFL since the 1940s, and it was made on the very last play of this player's career.




a. Doug Flutie  b. Archie Manning  c. Jan Stenerud  d. James Brown



2.  One of these Yankees did not win the MVP award three times.



a. Yogi Berra  b. Joe DiMaggio  c. Lou Gehrig  d. Mickey Mantle


 
3. The last commissioner of the ABA was -




a. Willis Reed  b. Dave DeBusschere  c. Red Holtzman  D. George Mikan


 
4. The '76 U.S. Hockey Team won the Olympic Gold medal by beating -




a. Finland  b. USSR   c. Sweden  d. Czechoslovakia


 
5. Secretariat has since 1973 held the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes records. Who has the record for the Preakness?




a. Affirmed   b. Seattle Slew   c. Curlin  d. Secretariat





6. The incredible Stella Walsh (Stanislawa Walasiewicz - We use her Americanized name) was the 1932 Olympic women's 100 meter champion for the Polish team.  One little problem discovered in 1980 has resulted in a bit of a controversy, yet unresolved.




a. Finding an old film no one had watched, a journalist noticed her getting a ridiculous false start lead not picked up in the days before instant replay until then.  b. She was the first Olympic athlete to admit using a then new training technique - anabolic steroids  c.  Hanna Suchocka did not qualify for the team, but came along with her girlfriend, Stella; when Stella hurt herself tripping over her trunk, they looked enough alike for Hanna to step in. No one noticed until Hanna died and Stella came forth.   d. She was a man, baby. 



7. The great boxer Joe Louis did not lose to -




a. Ezzard Charles.  b. Jersey Joe Walcott  c. Rocky Marciano  d. Max Schmeling


 
8. He is the all-time Boston Celtic leader in  points scored, games and minutes played, field goals attempted and made among others, including personal fouls. He was second in free throws attempted and made.




a. Paul Pierce  b. John Havlicek  c. Larry Bird  d. Robert Parrish


 
9.  He won more Grand Slam singles championships in the 1960s than any other men's tennis player.




a. Rod Laver  b. Ken Rosewall  c. Roy Emerson  d. John Newcombe


 
10. How far do they actually ski jump? The current world record is -




a. 550 feet    b. 700 feet  c. 825 feet  d. 1025 feet


Answers below















 ANSWERS
 
1. a. Doug Flutie, NE Patriots, Jan. 1, 2006, age 43.


2. c. Lou Gehrig only won twice. 


3. b. Dave DeBusschere made the jump from the Knicks' management.  Mikan was the league's first commissioner.


4.  No, not the USSR.  The answer is a.  Finland.  The Miracle on Ice against the USSR had already happened earlier in the medal round.


5.  d. Secretariat. Although he set the record in 1973, of course, it was not recognized by the Maryland Racing Commission until 2012. It was always known that Secretariat's electronically recorded time made no sense, but it wasn't until three years ago the commission held a hearing and were convinced by the evidence using modern technology that he had run faster than Curlin in 2007 and two other horses before him.


6. d. She was a man, baby. Sort of, anyway.  It was learned in her 1980 autopsy (killed during a robbery) that she had genital characteristics for both sexes and almost an equal number of male/female chromosomes. BTW, Hanna Suchocka is the name of the first female Polish Prime Minister in the 1990s.  Anyway, back to Stella, it may explain her 18 world records and the fact that she was also great at hurling the discus.


7.  b.  Jersey Joe was actually the last man Louis beat in his last championship defense.  Schmeling beat him before he was champ, and Charles and Marciano a couple of years after he retired.


8. b.  Hondo, John Havlicek.  Bird and Pierce are up there with him in most of these offensive categories.


9. c. Actually Roy Emerson, though you'd probably guess Rod Laver (he won 11). Laver was nevertheless the greatest player of his era. In fact, Laver won 48 of their 66 matches and 7 of 9 of their Grand Slam matches.   


10. c. 825 feet.  When you realize that's over 2 1/2 football fields including the end zones and visualize it - - yikes!

Monday, February 09, 2015


It is time to think about who's running, who's not, for president in 2016. I have found I am much better at predicting this (and many of the talking heads on tv are terrible at it, subject to the whim of every poll) than predicting who will be president. It's a parlor game, to which we can't attach a lot of importance. People, including me, just like to do it. Life, in the end, is too complicated to be sure of anything in politics. Who, two years ago, would factor ISIS into their calculations. Someone's health, a stupid comment, the wrong supporter, a scandal coming to light (true, false or in between) and a gajillion other factors,  make it so. I remember in early 2008 thinking that no Democrat had a real good chance - not Hillary or Biden or Obama - followed by 8 years of Pres. Obama, of course. I have been wrong on both of the last two Presidential elections, but, to be fair to myself, I stick with my predictions even when they are clearly not going to win (although, that helped with the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl). I knew that Bush would win the second time, and Obama the last two a couple of months before the actual election, but the last two were not my early predictions (I was right about who would be the Republican nominee from the outset, but wrong that McCain and Romney would win the general election).  But, in the last decade in particular, polls have become very accurate, at least some polls, and though the probabilities may be affected by a myriad of factors, at some point close to an election, when someone gets a head of steam, it becomes obvious, except to partisans on the wrong side. In any event, here's what I think about some people who have said they wanted to run.


Democrats


Hillary Clinton - Usually, I call politicians by their last name, but, in her case, her "brand," and because her husband was president, I will call her Hillary (feel free to think it's because she is a woman and I am being condescending - I can't win these arguments).


You can find every kind of article about her. She's running, she's not running, she will win easily, she will get clobbered by so and so.  Health aside, I think she will run and I think she will have a better than average chance to win, regardless of Obama's popularity at the time. First, she is the most famous woman in the world. Her time in the senate and as Secretary of State has made her personally popular with many politicians, even on the other side. She has an aura about her that is much tougher than Obama's. She can glam in on some of his better decisions, like calling the shot on bin Laden, and she will not be overly tarnished by the disaster in Benghazi, though, I think she ought to be, because the "investigation" into it cleared the administration (not much of an investigation - congress has never, years later, even gotten to interview any witnesses that were there or receive the tens of thousands of emails concerning it from the State department). She has learned to take much of the shrillness and grumpiness out of her personality that plagued her in 2008, when Obama seemed calm and refreshing compared to her. Of course, her husband is quite capable of ruining this for her with his mouth or . . . let's just say other body parts, but, that will have to be seen.  She is aging and health issues could change everything at any time. She is a very calculating woman and despite her loss to Obama, she and her husband are both very good politicians. She will have no scruples about throwing Obama under the bus, if it is needed, at any time. And, gender politics could play a big role. In America, competence or even ideology doesn't seem as big a factor as cultural issues. Blacks were allowed to vote before women could vote; they were accepted in sports long before women sports were viewed by most everyone; they had a seat on the Supreme Court first; and now they have had a president first. People may see it as time for a woman and that will be deemed more important than anything else.  The election, I think, is her to blow, everything else being equal.


Elizabeth Warren - She has been looked at for quite some time. She says she is not running. I see no reason to believe her if it looked like Hillary won't win. There was, a while back, a semi-scandal about whether or not this blue eyed blonde was part American-Indian as she claims. Actually, some Indian groups were complaining.  Ironically, Harvard, ever the political institution now, listed her as a minority professor (why do we have such listings?)  It was more a political and media football than anything else. Most people could care less. And, wouldn't a DNA test clear it up, anyway? She is a very liberal Democrat, but, they are a liberal party, and that would not hurt her in primaries.

Certainly, as she is from Massachusetts, she'd get a boost in the first primary in New Hampshire. My prediction is - if Hillary win does not run, and (always saying - health and some unknown looming scandal, or the like, aside) she will run, whatever she says right now. And she will have a good shot.


Martin O'Malley - Who the hell is Martin O'Malley? Unless you follow politics closely or live in Maryland, you probably have no idea.  But, he was a very popular mayor of Baltimore and then governor.   He never lost an election for either.  He is a social liberal with what looks like a good economic record, at least facially. It looks like he tried to manage crime, but without a lot of success. All these things are arguable, of course. He has pretty much made it clear he is interested in running, even if Hillary is, and he had been a big supporter of hers. I don't think he can compete with her and if she runs, I think he will eventually bow out, especially as he may not be able to raise money against her. He has a personality though. He sings, Celtic music, and has even acted a couple of times. He might actually have a good chance if she doesn't and the Democrat field opens up. 

Jim Webb - This guy is sort of a mysterious figure in a way. I hate to say it but I kind of like that he can be a little grumpy, when I don't like it with others, because he carries it off well and does when I think he should.  He's kind of the Bill Belichick of politics, though he looks more like Howdy Doody.

He has this aura as a strong foreign policy Democrat. His time in the Reagan administration in Defense and Navy and the fact that he is pro-gun rights could actually help him some with those who feel Democrats are soft.  He's a vet at a time it is popular to be one, an author, a family man without major scandals (one about his PAC - his wife and daughter made a lot of money from it, which he claims they earned - I don't know - and one about his aide who was carrying Webb's gun for him), could be appealing to moderates, independents and, if there are any blue-dog Democrats left them. We haven't heard much from him lately. I think he is waiting to see if Hillary runs. Isn't everyone.


Bernie Sanders - The Senator from Vermont is an interesting man. He is technically an independent, but realistically a Democrat, and, if we had a viable socialist party, he'd be their nominee. I don't think he is the kind that wants the state to own your business, just the kind that wants them to run most everything else. Certainly he is empathetic and passionate and a good speaker.  On the other hand, he's old, might even be 75 if elected. He might run, especially as he would have a very good shot in New Hampshire, but I do not think he would get very far after that.


Joe Biden - No. I think he must know that he is considered a joke by many people. Is there a possibility he might run? Yes, if Hillary doesn't, which is the answer to most questions about Democrats.


Republicans


Jeb Bush  - If he becomes the president, he will be part of the greatest political dynasty in our history. And, he has a good shot to be nominee. It's clear he is running and clear he has some support. He has weaknesses, of course, some because of "Bush fatigue," which might still be extant, and also because some people will not like the idea that we have a third president from any family. 

He has, for Republican and especially Iowan politics, too lenient a stance on immigration. He tries to be a common sense nice guy, not a far right winger but also not a RINO (though I'm sure he will be called that before he is through). I do have two things against him. First, I think, though his brother legitimately won Florida in 2000, he may have had a thumb on the scale, even if he technically stepped aside when it became a controversy. That's pure speculation and possibly unfair. However, if you recall the Terry Schiavo affair (a women in a vegetative state whose ex-husband and responsible party said her wishes were not to be kept alive versus her parents and Jeb Bush disagreed vehemently). Disagreement is fine, of course, but I thought he was a bully, who even threatened prosecution to get his way. Here's an article which agrees.


Rand Paul - He's been running for a long time. His strategy is interesting. He is trying to appeal to everyone based on libertarian ideas. The problem is, many people, both liberals and conservatives (but more so liberals), hate libertarian ideas. On the left, many believe government regulation is preferable to private ownership and decision making.  The measles thingee is a good example. He's not saying don't innoculate. He's saying it is rightfully the parents decision. But, many, maybe most people don't want it to be because measles is contagious. And on the right, though more likely to be libertarian, they are offended by libertarians not always sharing their religious values (and concluding, therefore, libertarians have none). Likely no pure libertarian could ever get elected president in our country for the foreseeable future (always famous last words). And, many people are also put off by Paul's non-interventionist foreign policy too. They want us actively involved in the world, including killing bad guys. They just want us to do it more efficiently. However, he has been taking some more aggressive positions than his policies would seem to allow.  Nevertheless, this is about whether he will run, and the answer is yes.


Chris Christie - He's hard to call. Last time he said no, then yes, then no VP for me, then okay to VP if you want me. This time he has showed interest, but I'm not sure how far he will push it. He has one, possibly two trips to Iowa coming up.  Nothing is a bigger indicator, of course, particularly for Republicans, if you are a potential candidate.  It comes down to this. If in another 6 months, he is doing well in the polls, say within 5-7 points of the leader and no less than third place, I'd think he will jump in. There are aspects of him that make me wonder if he is the bully the left portrays him as, but, I definitely prefer him to many.


Scott Walker - He is one of the more interesting  candidates. When he was first elected governor of Wisconsin he aroused deep anger against him by challenging and defeating public unions by changing the collective bargaining process for them(whatever you think about modern unions, public unions are far worse as they are paid by you and I and there is often no government that plays the role of  management, just a politician who would like union votes). He quickly rose to one of the most hated politicians on the right by the left but two years later became the only governor to ever win a recall election. He has been polling quite well recently among Republicans. I have a feeling about him. He's definitively conservative, but there also seems something about him that differs him from many other politicians in his group. I can't yet put my finger on why as it is a gut reaction. If nominated, he would no doubt arouse a strong reaction from unions and their supporters. My question here is will he run? Yes.


Ted Cruz - I don't know about him. He is testing the waters and he doesn't seem to care if anyone from moderate Republicans to Communist likes him. He may run, but if he does, he will not last past Iowa.


Marco Rubio - I think he's running. His problem with conservatives and many Republicans is his stand on immigration. However, the Republican Party is in a strange place, being far more diverse than the Democrats.  Rubio does have some things going for him - a pleasant (if not overly exciting) personality, good looks, the support of some important Republicans (e.g., Paul Ryan, I believe and it appears the Koch Bros. and associates, which is real important). Why wouldn't he run? He's been thinking about it for a long time.


Bobby Jindal - I don't think so. His state has financial problems and he is just not charismatic in the least. I don't think he can raise money. I also don't know where he stands out among other Republicans other than some executive experience. My guess is he will go up to the water but won't jump in.


Mike Huckabee - He gives every indication of running by quitting his cushiony job with FoxNews, which he did not do last time. But he (and I) will change my mind quickly if like Romney, he finds trouble raising money. He had a nice run on FoxNews and striking out again in politics seems hard to understand.  But, it looks like he will be there at the start, so long as he takes the fundraising seriously.


Rick Perry - He shouldn't run. I think he is too damaged by his last go at it when he embarrassed himself in debates and then by savaging Romney.  Personally, I wouldn't vote for him as he has religion on the brain and makes statements that turn me off in that regard. However, I think he has the passion and maybe blindness to try again.


Rick Santorum - I don't know.  He came in second after Romney so, you'd think that would put him in a good place. Yet, are there people talking about him? The media? Do you ever hear one of your friends to say I hope Santorum runs.  In fact, we all know that he did well because he gathered up the Anyone-But-Romney votes after everyone else self-destructed.  Still, he is another true believer, who ran last time even when he had almost no support at the beginning.  Leaving aside that, I have to say yes based on his frequent visits to Iowa including a recent 5 day trip.


Sarah Palin - No. She just wants some attention.


There are benchmarks that can change everything like the Ames poll, poor fundraising and, of course, the actual Iowa caucuses, to name a few. These are just my very early picks. We'll see.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Super Bowl in Arizona


First, random thoughts on Phoenix, Ariz.

 

I've been there twice. Both times in the Summer. I think the first time was in '96 or '97 and once I think in 2011. First point is this. IT'S HOT!!!!!  It's really, really hot!!!

 

The first time I was there it reached 115 or so degrees during the daytime. It is true it is a dry heat. Especially in the shade it feels much cooler than slightly lesser temperatures I've experienced in New Orleans and Houston. Of course, you are crazy to go into the sun in Phoenix without being dressed and even your face protected for more than a few minutes.

 

Here's how hot it is. When you jump in the pool and then come out, you are dry, including your suit, within minutes -- even standing in the shade. No kidding.

 

Sedona is a beautiful red rock area about less than 2 hours away.  I once drove from Sedona, where it was 45 degrees on leaving and arrived in Phoenix at 109 degrees.  Hot! Hot! Hot!

 

The first time I was in Phoenix I decided to do a little hiking. The first day I went hiking among the giant cacti in Apache something or other park. I went there early in the morning so that I would not crumple up and float away like thin bark that suddenly float up out of a fire.  Other than the sudden curiosity I had as to how big you had to be before a hungry puma doesn't think of you as food, it was really beautiful. So, the next day I decided to climb Camelback Mountain. I forget why they call it that:

 

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTxSLWkDgyNjFTDDJ4TTv0tLDp3bxZTZjvZwHkaYFI_UMgGPi0Rzw

Camelback Mountain


In any event, I headed off even earlier in the morning, afraid that by the time I got to the top it would be sizzling. I started my climb of a little more than 2700 feet about 6 a.m. I figured two hours up, and somewhat less down (gravity, you know). I can't say as I remember how long it took me to get up there, but it was longer than I thought.  By the time I was half way up it was too hot to hold onto the railing they had to help you get up. Something else happened half way up. I started walking really, really slow.

 

I wasn't going to make it. I didn't feel that was any shame. Lots of mountains I can't climb. Then something terrible happened. I was sitting on a rock resting, deciding if I should turn around there or in a hundred feet. Even resting was a dilemma because you were still getting hotter. I had brought a lot of water with me, was wearing sun screen and a hat. Didn't matter much. Then I started talking to this woman, who seemed roughly my age, and who was also ready to pass out. Her son was ahead of her on the trail to the top. She had no choice, she felt, as he was going all the way up and would wait for her. I didn't see the logic as eventually he'd get bored and come down, but she was determined in the way only a frightened parent can be. But, if she could make it up there, why couldn't I (aside from being overweight, out of shape and a little crippled)?  So, we walked together. One step at a time. And I mean one at a time. With frequent stops. Actually, almost every step. And some time later, we made it.

 

I came down alone. It was much faster, but, it had to be. Even still drinking regularly, I was heating up and feeling not so good. I did make it down. But, at the bottom, even with marked signs, I went the wrong way. I think it was about 5 minutes to my car from where I reached level ground, but I walked 20 minutes pretty much in the opposite direction before I realized I was all alone and nowhere near a car lot. Feeling kind of tired and light headed too. Like maybe I should lie down. Oh, and I was out of water.

 

I'm writing this now, some 17 years or so later, so you might guess I didn't lie down or pass out. I slowly made my way back and it was tough. I had more water in my car. And, I put on the A/C and sat there for at least a half hour before I made the drive back to the house. I don't really think I learned much of a lesson or anything. I thought I was being careful about hiking in the heat. But, I overshot my limits, that's for sure. I'm still learning that lesson over and over again.  And, honestly, overall, it was a fun experience.  I just don't recommend it to anyone who isn't young, in good shape and can carry a lot of water.

 

The Super Bowl is actually not in Phoenix but in Glendale, which is right next to Phoenix.  I read an article about how we should say Glendale rather than Phoenix. Ridiculous. Next to Phoenix there are a few residential communities, maybe about ten of them, but it's seamless. You can't really tell the difference between Phoenix, outside of downtown, and these communities except for the name on the sign. Well, I guess Glendale does have this stadium off the highway, so, maybe it is a little different, but I always thought it was in Phoenix when I passed it.  And surrounding all of it is a whole lot of desert. As Phoenix proper dominates it all, I'm fine with calling it Phoenix, the same way you think of Yonkers as part of New York City (it's not; it's actually its own city and one of the biggest in state) unless you live there. I have no idea when I'm entering or leaving Yonkers either.

 

My evalovin' gf's sister lives in Glendale (or one of those communities), which is why I've been there on trips to Arizona.  AZ is an amazingly beautiful state with all kinds of unbelievable attractions, foremost being the Grand Canyon. There's also the Canyon de Chelly and Sedona, the prettiest place I never heard of until I was there.  

I have no interest in going to a Super Bowl, but, had we gone (just today my gf tells me her sister had free tickets for us), it would have given us a place to stay, saving a lot of money. 

 

I suppose if I got free tickets to the Super Bowl (and knew it) I would go. How do you not? But, I'm not sure I would like it.  I haven't been to a professional football game in probably 25 years or so, and, frankly, it was ridiculous. Even though we arrived at the Meadowlands Stadium where the Jets were playing before the game started, we did not get to our seats until the second half kickoff. And there was the giant who tried to smash my face because I told his girlfriend she was cute (I was young and she was cute). I remember my friends looking at me after I avoided the huge meaty hands reaching down for me from the level above. "What's going on?" "Oh, I'll tell you later." Anyway, even then, aside from missing half the game, it was cold and you couldn't really see that well. Much rather sit at home with friends munching on Ritz crackers with buffalo chicken dip, pepperoni and cheese. Whatever it costs, it has to be cheaper than a hot dog and coke at the game. And I don't have to wait on line.

 

Of course, the SB is a different experience, probably once in a lifetime for most people.  Still, I don't like crowds, using stadium bathrooms and walking up a lot of steps, just for starters. And, I'd miss the commercials (even though they weren't so good last year). Half time show? Eh. The performers are usually pretty good. I even enjoyed Beyonce (last year?) Still.

 

So, let's get to the Super Bowl this year. Early in the year I predicted NE  v. San Francisco. Half right. Hard to be more wrong about SF, of course.  They were pretty mediocre this year.  Last year I think I also predicted the same two teams and they both made it to the conference championship. At this rate, within two years I should be right.

 

I'm a NE fan and Tom Brady fan most of all, so why wouldn't I be happy? I'm a little bit disappointed by the DeflateGate scandal because it does seem like someone cheated (so far not buying the natural reasons line) but I really don't believe it was Belicheck or Brady. I know it could be anyone. Our heroes are not immune from all the foibles of humanities. But I need evidence, anyway, and SpyGate (2007) is not enough to convict Belichick. 

 

I went back and looked at my predictions last year just before the game. My best prediction was that it would be a close game.  I predicted that whomever had the better game, Marchawn Lynch of Knowshon Moreno, would give their team victory - neither was a major factor (Lynch had 39 years rushing; Moreno 17).

 

My predictions this year are this:  7 point or less score differential. No blow out this year. One team blew NE out this year by 27 points, but NE was a different team after that game and they ended up with the best game differential in the league in their favor. They lost one game after that by 8 and another by 5. The rest they won. In 14 years they turned over the ball the least of any team and were second in the league this year (no DeflateGate jokes).  But Seattle had no blowouts against them this year - the most they lost by was 9 - and they were next after NE in score differential. Seattle also is good with ball control, 4th best in the league in turnover ration (and we all know Houston was only 3rd because of one man).

 

My other prediction - if NE's defense comes up big, or their special teams, they win. Otherwise, honestly, I don't think they can.

 

I'm ending with regular season MVP. The absolutely right man this year is J. J. Watt. Leave aside his 20+ sacks in which he came in second, but he was first in yards lost on sacks, third in forced fumbles but first in fumbles recovered and second in defensive touchdowns. It wasn't a fluke. There is a reason he is the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.  In tackles he was ranked 84th in the league, but that's meaningless because he's a defensive end and they penetrate and don't rack up tackles. How did he do among DEs? He was no. 1 and for solo tackles as well. And by the way, he was also no. 1 among all defensive players for tackles for loss.  Tied for first for fumble recoveries for tds, 2d in safeties (although many are tied for both of those). How about something like passes defensed.  The whole ranking through the first 100 are cornerbacks, safeties and occasional linebacker or other back - except for one defensive end (and one nose tackle slightly below him) - want to guess who?  He had 10 passes defensed. Since 1991 only one other player has had 10 passes defensed and ten sacks - and remember - Watt had more than double that number of sacks - no one has done that before.  By the way, he had more passes defensed than great defenders like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Earl Thomas and Charles Woodson.  

 

There's also a statistic called defeats, which I left for last. It includes all tackles for a loss, including sacks, any tackle or pass defensed to prevent a conversion on third or fourth down and any turnover or a batted pass that leads to an interception. Another words, game changers. Watt is the record holder with 56 in his second year (2012).  He won this year too with only one other player close.

 

And of course he had 3 offensive touchdowns.  If he played tight end, he'd be another Gronkowski.

 

No. 2 is Odell Beckham, Jr. who transformed the Giants and Eli Manning into a decent team and quarterback again all by himself, leave aside the catch many if not most football fans call the greatest catch they ever saw.  He started 12 games this year and only one other receiver, Antonio Gates, has his kind of numbers in them. And, he's a rookie.

 

No. 3. Almost any other year, Aaron Rodgers would be the easy choice. The NFL prefers offensive backs (with very few exceptions) so he will likely win. He had a 7.6 to 1 TD to interception ratio. Just to show you how good that is - Romo was next with a 3.8 to one ratio and then Brady with 3.7. What Rodgers did is astonishing. And, if his defense and special teams did not lose the game in a few minutes, he'd be in the Super Bowl.


Going to end with a couple of 2009 interviews with Marshawn Lynch I found on NFL.com, including a swim race with another Buffalo Bill in the second one. Hard to believe this is the same guy.

http://www.buffalobills.com/video/videos/Throwback-Marshawn-Lynch-Talks-Beast-Mode/8f3de809-4d36-484c-b17f-6ac28bfa7361


http://www.buffalobills.com/video/videos/Throwback-Marshawn-Lynch-Swim-vs-Kyle-Williams/d33794fc-e5d3-4c13-9ab9-dd5163c65d7c


POST GAME POST SCRIPT


So, New England won.  As I wrote recently in some newspaper comment, Brady is probably the only sports hero I have. I am amazed by his mental toughness and refusal to give up, his ability to focus so hard on scoring under pressure. Ten points down in the fourth quarter against one of the best defenses in history, a lot of guys give up., tying a SB record for come backs.  It's why I rate Brady ahead of Manning and always say, one game, one possession, one play, I want Brady (or Rodgers, who is probably the best QB right now).  But, 4 Super Bowls wins, three Super Bowl MVPs, two close SBs he lost through no fault of his own and three other NFC championship appearances. Of course, he has records galore - his fans have a reason to say he's no. 1. I really don't believe much in comparing players between eras, particularly with the significant rule changes that favor more modern quarterbacks, and he's had at least a few years of that. But, his achievements speak for themselves. I would even say what I didn't want to say last year, because it sounded like sour grapes. Brady's 50 TDs in the 2007 season back was as good as Manning's 55 now under modern rules. You can disagree, but, right now, Brady fans have a right to say he's the best ever - particularly in post season, but arguably ever, whatever Manning's own claim to it.


I have to be honest though. When I heard his interview with Bob Costas, I wasn't happy. He said people who knew him knew what he was about. But, when Costas asked him a last question - so, you were definitely not involved - he didn't answer the question. I can't say that makes me happy. It reminded me of the Michael Jackson interview when he was asked if he had ever touched a child (or something like that) and he answered - I'd never harm a child. Uh oh. On the other hand, I expect some attorney or other has said to him to answer that way.  I'm not going to rush to judgment with him anymore than I would win anyone else (do my best anyway). But, I would have preferred "Absolutely not."


Mostly though, more than elated, I feel relieved. I felt before the game that Seattle was the better team, almost a team of destiny, and I still feel that way, and not least when Kearse made that catch lying on the ground on his back. As Pete Carroll said, that last pass play was called to make sure they had time to call three plays so that they could run the last two if the first pass didn't work (it would stop the clock). It did work except Butler made a great play and you have to give it to the kid, who said he studied that play and was ready. When you watch it from the end zone, you believe it. He went for it from the beginning of the play.


My predictions before the game turned out better this year than last (though I really think predictions about one game are just for fun - who knows what will happen). I thought it be less than 7 points and I wrote that if NE defense or special teams comes up big, they win. And, obviously, it did.


As for the Sea Hawks, I had even more respect for them this year than last year as they had to play through at least a little adversity. The blow out in the Super Bowl last year was impressive enough, but after the Green Bay game, and this one, I was really impressed.


I can sleep well tonight. Thanks Tom. Thanks Bill.  Sorry Sea Hawk fans. I know how crummy I'd feel if it went the other way.


About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .