10 Thoughts for the Week of February 14, 2021 – The Museum of Dreams and Thick Partisan Politics

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1. TRUMP ACQUITTED

Former president Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate on Saturday. I watched the trial and the videos and I found myself wondering who could ignore what was being portrayed. I knew how thick partisan politics runs in our country, but if there were a moment for our government to have a conscience, this was the time.

The Senate has never convicted an impeached president; this is the most bi-partisan vote in the history of impeachments.

What is irksome is Mitch McConnell saying one thing and voting another. His statements had some thick partisan politics spread all over it. Sorry not sorry.

I am concerned about how our government spent four years not holding Trump accountable for his actions. I am concerned about the video of the guys saying “next time we’ll bring our guns”.

2. WEEKLY REPARATIONS UPDATE

The Virginia House passes a bill for colleges to make reparations for their role in slavery.

This week the US House of Representatives will vote on exploring reparations.

3. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE APOLOGIZES…FINALLY

The #FreeBritneySpears movement has made its way to Justin Timberlake’s door. Almost twenty years later, Justin apologized for using Britney to propel his solo career. He also decided to apologize to Janet Jackson as well for the whole Super Bowl incident.

After eighteen years, these sorts of apologies always overflow with insincerity. Very Mitch McConnell.

4. MUSEUM OF DREAMS

I made a trip to the Museum of Dreams in Beverly Hills with my family. The museum is a small installation of three rooms which were breathtaking to see. It would have been nice to have a bench here and there to sit and take everything in. I feel like the trip was a missed opportunity. There were too many people there and the museum is pure bait for people who are looking for something cool to put on Instagram. There were a lot of people taking pics; which takes away from taking things in. There was also one woman who refused to keep her mask on. I understand she wants her pics, but we are all in rooms with more people than she should and this one lady will not keep her mask on.

5. ART OF THE WEEK

Michael Jackson Tears by Dr. WASH blew my mind. It made me wonder who would be in my tears.

6. JUSTIN TURNER WITH THE DODGERS

The Dodgers have made their moves and, with Justin Turner back, they are ready to defend their World Series title. It took a long time with a lot of back and forth for Turner and the Dodger to find the right amount of time on his contract. The Dodgers had all the cards in this game. The loss of Joc Pederson and Kike Hernandez, Turner add the chemistry piece needed for a championship team.

7. BEST THING I READ THIS WEEK

One of the coolest things I read this week was an article about a lake that turns living things to stone.

8. REPUBLICANS TURN ON REASONABLE SENATORS

Last week I was outraged about Wyoming Republicans censuring Liz Cheney for voting to impeach Donald Trump. This week Republicans are censuring Bobby Cassidy of Louisiana for voting to convict Donald Trump of incitement. Thick with partisanship.

9. NBA TRADE DEADLINE BUZZ

I haven’t been able to be all in on the NBA season so far. One of my favorite times of the year is the trade deadline. There is still a month to go until the big day; but there is already buzz. Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin are going to sit out until they are traded.

10. QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” ― Benjamin Franklin

10 Thoughts for the Week of January 31, 2021 – Hall of Shame, Fascism and Reparation Beer

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1. BASEBALL HALL OF FAME HAS NO NEW INDUCTEES FROM THE BASEBALL WRITERS

In what I would consider a bad look for the Baseball Hall of Fame, the baseball writers were unable to get enough votes to have any new inductees this year. Curt Schilling got 71% of the necessary 76%. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens both got somewhere in the 60% range. 

Everyone knows this comes down to PED’s for Bonds and Clemens, and Schilling’s big mouth on politics. All three should be shoe-ins, but the writers have invoked the character clause. I am not saying doing PED’s is not wrong. My argument for Clemens and Bonds has always been that they were already Hall of Famers before their names could be connected to PED’s. 

I also want to call out the hypocrisy of the Hall of Fame, there are a number of guys in the Hall of Fame who would not pass the character clause test. Here is a short list:

  1. Ty Cobb
  2. Kenesaw Landis
  3. Cap Anson
  4. Charlie Commiskey
  5. Tom Yawkey
  6. Gaylord Perry
  7. Orlando Cepeda 
  8. Rogers Hornsby

I could support the character clause argument if they purged some of these guys retroactively.

2. KOBE DEATH ANNIVERSARY

Courtesy of USA Today

Even with the Lakers winning the championship last year, the loss of Kobe Bryant is still very real for a lot of people. It is all complicated for me. It is hard to wrap my head around like reparations

3. VIOLENT DOMESTIC TERRORISTS

As the pursuit of those involved with the attempted coup continues, I am blown away by the information that comes to the surface. I have to call it a coup because people started planning and training for this day right after the election. There were Proud Boys who had plans for making a bomb.

4. FASCISM

The most interesting podcast I listened to this week was from Vox about fascism. The way the terms socialism and fascism have been thrown around, it was eye-opening. 

5. NFL ROONEY RULE AND ERIC BIENEMY

The NFL has the Rooney Rule which stipulates a NFL has to interview a minority candidate during its interview process. It is a good rule to increase the diversity of head coaches. 

What boggles my mind is how Eric Bienemy cannot get a head coaching job. As the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, he has a record of 37-8 with a Super Bowl victory (maybe two). Somehow he cannot get a job. 

6. ROBINHOOD FIASCO

I don’t know enough about the stock market. All I can say is the stock market is not a casino and bad things can happen when people treat it like a casino. What is crazy about Robinhood is they stopped trading GameStop because of what was happening. In Las Vegas, you shut the table down when you catch a cheater. You don’t shut the table down when the cheater is getting his just desserts.

7. DESHAWN WATSON REQUESTS A TRADE

It goes to show the McNair family is not worried about winning. By even trying to trade someone who is arguably a Top 5 football player and Top 5 person, you cannot get equal trade value for Deshawn Watson. The Texans are a hot mess without Watson.

8. REPARATION TALKS

My reparations subject for the week is Temperance Brewery in Evanston, Ill donates a 100% of the proceeds from their Where I’m From beer to reparations.

On a different money note, an Episcopal church in Maryland donated $500K to reparations because they found out one of the founders was a slaveholder.

9. DODGERS LOSE KIKE HERNANDEZ AND JOC PEDERSON

The Dodgers lost Kike Hernandez and Joc Pederson this week. The Dodgers have built the franchise and their farm system to have plenty of talent down the pipeline.  I do worry about the chemistry that is lost with their departures. 

10. QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.” ― Paulo Coelho, Author of The Alchemist

10 Thoughts for the Week of January 24, 2021 – RIP Hank Aaron and COVID Getting Close to Home

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1. IMMEDIATE ACTION BY PRESIDENT BIDEN

The inauguration was quick and sweet and President Biden got right to work.

On his first official day in office, President Biden signed a number of executive orders to basically try to fix all the things that Trump had broken as president. He rejoined the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Agreement. He stopped the building of that stupid wall and reversed the. Muslim Ban.

2. 400,000 AMERICANS HAVE DIED OF COVID

The United States has hit 400,000 deaths this week and it is predicted that we will hit 500,000 deaths some time next month. This is actually a week where we didn’t break a  daily record.

3. COVID IS HITTING CLOSE TO HOME

It has been a very long time in this pandemic, but I feel like COVID has finally hit home. My son tested positive and was put in the quarantine dorm. A member of my church passed away as well. It’s late in the game, but it has become more than real to me……

4. RIP HANK AARON

My heart was broken on Friday morning to hear that “The Hammer” Hank Aaron passed away. Hank Aaron was the man who took the home run record away from Babe Ruth amidst death threats. His career encompassed all of baseball including the Negro Leagues. He impacted Reggie Jackson and Barry Bonds.

He was very important to me as a kid. I remember being nine years old and reading a “Legends of Baseball” book. I found a lot of comfort in finding Hank Aaron in a book with all those white faces. He meant so much to me that I lied to my friends and said I was Hank Aaron’s grandson.

It only seemed right that the MVP should be named after Hank Aaron.

5. JAMES BOND DELAYED

Another way that COVID has become all so real to me is that Daniel Craig’s last turn as James Bond has been delayed until the movie company can maximize the profits from this movie. It was supposed to come out last year, and I am wondering if I will see it this year.

There are three things I really want this year:

            1. To travel somewhere for vacation
            2. My second grader to go back to school
            3. Watch No Time to Die

6. RIP LARRY KING

At some point, Larry King was much-watch television. His was the only show Al Pacino would go on. My first real experience with Larry King was when I was umpiring tee-ball. There was an elderly looking old man in the stands. It was not uncommon for grandparents to come watch the games. What was different this time was Larry King came to watch his son play. The nature of being a celebrity is you can marry a woman much younger than you and end up in your 70’s with an elementary school kid.

7. PHOTOS OF BETELGEUSE

I wish there was a lot to say here, I am blown away by just the picture of what a star looks like up close.

8. BEST THING I READ THIS WEEK

I had to give props to this poem. I was super moved by My Girlfriend Killed James Brown by David Kirby.

Nothing good comes from murder. Well, if you murder

Hitler, yeah, but suppose you murder Hitler and somebody

worse takes his place? The girlfriend didn’t mean to kill James Brown,

though. Accidental death’s a whole other kettle of fish

9. NFL PLAYOFFS – CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY

Championship Sunday is known as the best day in the NFL. Sunday put a lot of good football on display. Tom Brady’s GOAT status was almost done in by three interceptions. He was saved by Packers coach, Matt LaFluer, going for a field goal on fourth down and goal late in the fourth quarter.

Going for the field goal instead of the touchdown was like gift-wrapping the Super Bowl for Brady. Either way, Brady knew how to close out the game when things really mattered.

What is most troubling, is Aaron Rodgers and his uncertain future.

Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill remind me of the 90’s Bulls. They are just straight unstoppable. I am not even sure they have played their best football yet.

Josh Allen had a great season but came up short. He took some very ugly sacks trying to keep pace with the high powered Chiefs offense.

10. RAND PAUL AND THE STOLEN ELECTION

It has been almost 90 days since the election. All the lawsuits challenging the results of the election have been dismissed for lack of evidence. There was an attempted coup on the Capitol and the Electoral College has certified the results.

Somehow someway, Rand Paul, cannot admit that the 2020 election was not stolen from Donald Trump. He wanted to say there are two sides to every story, but there is something indisputable about not having any evidence of election fraud.

10 Thoughts for the Week of January 10, 2021 – A Coup, Tommy Lasorda, and 4,000 Dead

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1. TRUMP MOB STORMS THE CAPITOL

It was a very dark day for our country. After a rally where they were incited by President Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani that they should “never concede” and this is a ”trial by combat”.

All I really want to say about Wednesday’s events are:

  1. Things would have gone completely different if a Black Lives Matter group stormed the Capitol.
  2. Please stop calling this a “protest”. There is way too many similarities between what happened on Wednesday and attempting to overthrow a government than a protest.

2. JACOB BLAKE DECISION

This was not a good week for the nation. Perhaps, what amplified Wednesday’s events, was the announcement that officer Rusty Sheskey, who shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times would not be prosecuted. Officer Sheskey claimed he feared for his life, so he shot Mr. Blake in the back. That was reasonable to the district attorney. Shooting a person in the back seven times doesn’t seem all that reasonable to me.

3. 4,000 PEOPLE DIED OF COVID ON THURSDAY

Amidst all the drama taking place in politics, it is easy to forget there is a pandemic going on. I was pulled away from the distractions when I saw that 4,000 people died of COVID on Thursday. The vaccine is being administered but the surge is still surging. A couple of weeks ago, I talked about COVID confusion and it seems to get more confusing.

4. R.I.P. TOMMY LASORDA

A fixture of my childhood was sitting at Dodger Stadium and watching Tommy Lasorda waddle out from the dugout to yell at the home plate umpire about a disputable call. In those days, a manager taking a trip to home plate was the greatest theater. The whipped cream on the Lasorda Sundae was my dad yelling “Tommy tell him what you had for lunch!” More recently I would see Tommy sitting in his seat by the Dodgers’ on-deck circle nodding off to a nice evening nap at the stadium.

Tommy passed away on Friday and I was happy he got to see the Boys in Blue win the Series one last time. He will be missed.

5. DR. DRE SUFFERS AN ANEURYSM

Last week, after MF Doom died, I said hip-hop was behind the other genres when it came to grieving. Then I heard Dr. Dre suffered an aneurysm last week. It sounds like he will pull through, but I feel like this is another sign I am becoming an old man.

6. NFL WILDCARD WEEKEND

Wildcard Weekend went as expected. The only surprise for me was Cleveland putting a beat down Pittsburgh. Last week Cleveland barely beat the Pittsburgh second-stringers. I figured they didn’t have much of a chance against the starters. I didn’t figure Pittsburgh would turn the ball over and spot the Browns 28 points in the first quarter.

7. A LITTLE HOUSEKEEPING

My housekeeper was exposed to someone with COVID so my family has been on their own to clean our home for the last two weeks. Many years ago, my wife and made a decision that if we were going to work as hard we do during the week, we didn’t want to spend the weekends. We also have two standards of “clean” and the difference in standards was going to lead to some serious marriage troubles.

Two weeks ago, it was cute to clean the house. This past week, I felt like cleaning the house dominated my weekend. I am grateful it was Wild Card Weekend to keep me distracted from my wife’s conflicting standard of “clean”. I am holding my breath until my housekeeper comes back. I know….First World Problems.

8. REPARATIONS FOR SOUTH KOREANS

A South Korean court order the nation of Japan to pay reparations for sex-slavery instituted during World War II. The women were snatched from their homes and forced to work in brothels near the frontlines of the war. They were called “comfort women”. The judge said they needed to compensated for their suffering.

It is common sense for “comfort women”. However, reparations always become complicated when it comes to America.

9. QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The quote of the week comes from Lucille Clifton – “You might as well answer the door, my child, the truth is furiously knocking.

10. ART FOR THE WEEK

The Art for the Week comes from Shawn Perkins and is called “Red Carpet Treatment”. I don’t have to say much else.

10 Thoughts For The Week of December 20, 2020 – Black Cowboys and Reparations

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1. BIDEN ELECTION AFFIRMED BY ELECTORAL COLLEGE

The election drama is almost over. The Electoral College affirmed President Biden’s election. There was suspense building up to this event with Republicans not admitting that Biden won the election and lining up to join hopeless election lawsuits.

The drama may have continued after the vote but Mitch McConnell fell on his sword. I never thought he would be the voice of reason in all of this. I think the drama would continue if there was not a Senate run-off in Georgia. McConnell knows they have to put away the crazy to save his job.

2. WILLIAM BARR IS OUT

The president announced that attorney general William Barr will be resigning. Barr’s usefulness to the president has run its course since he won’t pursue false election claims and he will not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hunter Biden.

3. RIP – JOHN LeCARRE

The master spy-novelist passed away this week. I was fortunate to read a number of his novels this year. I highly recommend The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.

4. ENGLISH PM SUED FOR REPARATIONS

Member of Parliament Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax is being sued for reparations by residents from Barbados. The Drax family has owned a sugar plantation there since 1650. This includes when they had slaves. When slavery ended, the British government paid the Drax family what is equivalent of $3 million to compensate for the loss of slaves. To this day, the Drax family has profited from the sugar plantation and manages to pay its workers half the national average of wages. The PM has said these claims are false.

Normally, when I think of reparations, I get overwhelmed with all the details and minutiae. This case makes a lot of sense for reparations.

5. SELF MUST DIE

An art exhibit worth checking out is Self Must Die by Derek Fordjour. His work is life-giving.

6. COWBOYS IN HARLEM

20201215-120233I read an interesting article about the first black rodeo in Harlem in 1971. The cowboys wanted black kids to know there was such a thing as a “black cowboy”. Muhammad Ali even made an appearance. I am sure a black cowboy was the unicorn of westerns when they were en vogue.

The only black cowboys in my memory are Cleavon Little’s character in Blazing Saddles, Danny Glover’s character in Silverado, and Mario Van Peebles’ character in Posse. Just recently, there was Django Unchained and Denzel Washington lead the Magnificent Seven.

I am sure it is a culture that deserves more discovery.

7. STIMULUS PACKAGE APPROVED

Congress passed a stimulus bill that would give everyone $600 in aid. There are numerous other benefits of the package. Both President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden say $600 is not enough. Some countries are giving their citizens $600 a month. Hopefully, this is the beginning and not just a hollow token that doesn’t help all that much.

8. COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF

2020 College Football Playoff bowl games: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State,  Notre Dame make four-team field - CBSSports.comThe. College Football Playoff teams have been announced. Clemson and Ohio State will have a rematch from a very competitive game in last year’s playoff. Alabama is back and will play Notre Dame.

I am not sure if Notre Dame belongs in the playoff. Their signature win was beating Clemson without Trevor Lawrence in double overtime. Last week, with Trevor Lawrence, Clemson smoked Notre Dame by twenty-four points.

It would have been nice to see a rematch between Texas A&M and Alabama.

9. WORLD’S BIGGEST AFRO

The world record for the biggest Afro was broken. The record Afro means four feet ten inches in circumference. The record was broken by six more than six inches.

10. USC OPTS OUT OF BOWL GAME

After losing a game they should have won to Oregon in the PAC-12 Championship Game, USC opted out of playing in the Alamo Bowl. There are mixed reviews about the Trojans’ 5-1 season.

Once again, Clay Helton is on the hot seat. In a regular season, most teams like having the bowl prep time to get some more practice time with their players. Maybe they just want to put this season behind them.

I feel bad for Clay Helton. He is never going to get the love of a “big name” coach. He is a blue-collar guy who does a great job recruiting. He hasn’t done himself any favors with the lackluster results.

10 Thoughts for the Week of December 13, 2020

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1. DAILY RECORD OF COVID DEATHS BROKEN

This week, the United States witnessed a day with the most deaths from COVID. Nine months after, this pandemic was in full effect, it feels like we have not learned much. There was always talk that November and December was going to be bad. I am not sure if anyone knew it was going to be this bad. There is good news about vaccines being distributed, but as I am way down the list when it comes to getting the vaccine, I think there is a long way to go.

2. LSU SELF-IMPOSED BOWL BAN

The LSU football program self-imposed a bowl ban this year for improper gifts from boosters last year. This is the right year for a self-imposed bowl ban. The team is 4-5 and are a shell of the team that won the national championship. Any invite they would get for a bowl this year would not measure to the College Football Playoff. Another good reason to go with the bowl ban this year is they look like they may be a contender next year after defeating the #6 Florida Gators.

3. REACTIONS TO WARNER BROS 2021 MOVIE MOVE

Last week, I gave Warner Bros props for releasing their 2021 slate of movies in theaters and streaming on HBOMax simultaneously. As a movie lover who didn’t go to the movies during this pandemic and will not return until late 2021, I was stoked by the announcement. There were a lot of people who were not that excited.

AMC Theaters was definitely not happy about the announcement. Warner Bros mega-director, Christopher Nolan, voiced his displeasure with the announcement.

I feel for the movie industry. I think the government should loan the movie studios and theaters money to get through this. 2019 was the best year for that industry ever. They would be able to pay back whatever loaned in the next two to three years.

4. DISNEY’S MARVEL AND STAR WARS ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR 2021 AND BEYOND

Disney’s annual meeting was a reveal for what they plan to release in 2021. It felt like a repeat of the annual meeting for 2020. 

The Marvel and Star Wars offerings look very cool. I have been waiting for the Falcon and the Winter Soldier since Avengers Endgame ended.

The Loki series looked pretty interesting as well. I had forgotten about his escape in Endgame.

 

 

 

 

5. TEXAS ELECTION LAWSUIT

In what has to be the stupidest lawsuit in American Jurisprudence, the attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, sued the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia for violation of each state’s election rules. Anybody with a legal brain knew this lawsuit was dead upon arrival. 

Then insanity began to sprinkle itself on this mess. 107 members of Congress and the attorney generals for seventeen other states joined the lawsuit. The only logical reason for such insanity is to keep the favor of those people who really truly believe the election was stolen from Trump. This sort of insanity is frightening to me because the urgency of getting Amy Coney-Barrett on the bench was for insane times like these. 

I exhaled and my faith in democracy was restored when the SCOTUS dismissed the case.

 

 

 

6. PAUL GEORGE EXTENSION

The Clippers and Paul George agreed to a 5 year, $190 million contract extension. They wanted to make sure that he retired as a Clipper.

This would have made sense if the Clippers were coming off winning their first NBA championship or even making their first trip to the conference finals. I mean that is Anthony Davis money.

Instead they are giving the money to Playoff P who has a habit of sticking his foot in his mouth and not showing up in the postseason.

Clippers gonna Clip!

7. ELECTION PROTESTS ARE GETTING VIOLENT

While I have a hard time explaining the insanity that supported the Texas election lawsuit, the one thing that makes sense is the fear of violence. There have been so many threats of violence in protest of the election.

  • Dozens of Trump supporters, some armed, went to the home of Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state, and began shouting obscenities.
  • “People on Twitter have posted photographs of my house,” said Ann Jacobs, the chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, who alerted her neighbors and the police about the constant threats. She said another message mentioned her children and said, “I’ve heard you’ll have quite a crowd of patriots showing up at your door.”
  • In Vermont, officials received a voice message threatening them with “execution by firing squad.”
  • A Georgia poll worker went into hiding after a viral video falsely claimed he had discarded ballots.
  • Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, and his wife have received death threats, including by text message, and caravans have circled their house.

There are sinister forces trying to turn this election with fear and violence.

8. REPARATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA

Orange County, North Carolina passed a resolution apologizing for the county’s past contribution to the disenfranchisement of black people and a commitment to racial equality. There have been no concrete promises made. However an apology for disenfranchisement is pretty significant.

9. RIP TONY ‘TINY’ LISTER

Tony ‘Tiny’ Lister passed away this week. My first memory of Tiny is as ‘Zeus’ in the Hulk Hogan movie No Holds Barred. The role where he left his mark on the general public is as Deebo in the movie Friday. I loved his small role in The Dark Knight. 

 

10. WAITING FOR SANTA IN REDONDO BEACH

Saturday night my family and I got to see Santa Claus come through the neighborhood. The Redondo Beach Police Officer Association didn’t let COVID stop from spreading some holiday cheer.

 

10 Thoughts for the Week of December 6, 2020 – COVID Confusion

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1. MAIL-IN BALLOTS IN GEORGIA

As the election began losing steam, the eyes of the nation turned to Georgia. The January 5th run-off election will determine who will lead the Senate and at what pace things are going to change. The presidential election turned on the number of mail-in ballots. There were 970,000 mail-in ballots in the November election. There have been over one million applications for mail-in ballots for the January 5th run-off election.

President Trump used a weekend rally to mention the run-off election while he complained of being robbed of the election.

The whole process feels like a coin toss right now.

2. WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON FOOTBALL

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday afternoon in a game I would have to call the COVID Bowl. After being rescheduled twice, the Ravens actually voted not to play this game but they were persuaded to go forward with the game by the NFLPA.

The game was exactly what I had expected for a game played at 12:40 pm on Wednesday afternoon….UGLY. There were a lot of missed tackles, turnovers, and dropped passes. With Lamar Jackson out, there was a Robert Griffith III sighting. I forgot he was still in the NFL. He didn’t play well, but he kept his team in the game.

3. RUSSELL WESTBROOK FOR JOHN WALL TRADE

The blockbuster trade of the week in the NBA was Russell Westbrook joining Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards. In exchange for Westbrook, the Houston Rockets get John Wall. This was the only logical trade based on the massive sizes of both of their contracts.

At first glance, the winner looks like a no-brainer for the Wizards. They now have a top five back court and they have a quality supporting cast around those guys. Scott Brooks coached Russ in OKC and knows how to get through to him. They have a solid chance of making the playoffs.

Houston just makes me curious. John Wall is not who I would imagine playing with James Harden. They have pieces but I don’t know how they will fit together. This trade would not have bothered me a year ago when the Rockets had Darryl Morey and Mike D’Antoni pulling strings. D’Antoni has a gift for getting the best out of people offensively.

I feel like another trade is on the way.

4. WARNER BROS 2021 MOVIES WILL BE RELEASED IN THEATERS AND STREAMING SIMULTANEOUSLY

Warner Media’s announcement for 2021was refreshing after watching Disney push back all their 2020 movies to an unknown void in 2021. Very excited about my HBOMax subscription.

I have not been excited by the way Disney has handled their movies; especially with Marvel and Star Wars.

I was already excited about Wonder Woman 1984. Now I am ecstatic.

5. IS THE EARTH AN ORGANISM?

I read an interesting article about evolutionary questions about the Earth. A lot of it comes down to how you define an organism; or rather, can a system be an organism.

6. PAUL GEORGE THROWS DOC RIVERS UNDER THE BUS

Paul George has a career of putting his foot in his mouth. He decided to throw Doc Rivers under the bus for their collapse and loss of a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets. He has Top 10 talent but has not shown up in the playoffs since the Indiana Pacers lost to Lebron James and the Miami Heat in seven games. Since then, he was part of a Pacers team that lost in the first round, and he was part of the OKC Thunder who were booted out of the first round twice. It took the greatness of Kawahi Leonard to drag a struggling George to the second round of the playoffs.

Instead of being accountable for not being able to show up in the playoffs and throwing three pointers against the side of the backboard, Playoff P went after Doc Rivers. He is the opposite of Playoff Rondo.

7. COVID CONFUSION

I am very confused thinking about COVID at the present time. There have been 1,000,000 new cases this week; even Rudy Guiliani got it. My state, California, has hospitals at 85% capacity. The NFL has been plagued by COVID. Games have been rescheduled and teams have played with no quarterback. However schools are opening, vaccines are being used in the UK and the NBA is coming back.

The uncertainty continues.

8. MICROWAVE ATTACKS ON US EMBASSIES ABROAD

I have seen quite a few articles about these incidents and there were suspicions of some weapon. Now things are becoming more concrete. I feel bad for people serving our country abroad.

9. THE RAIDERS SNATCH VICTORY OUT OF THE JAWS OF DEFEAT

The Raiders were on their way to losing to the 0-11 New York Jets when the unthinkable happened. Henry Ruggs III had fumbled away the game earlier. It was fourth down and impossible. The Jets did what 0-11 teams do and left the Ruggs, the fastest man on the field in man coverage while blitzing everyone. Ruggs was wide open for a touchdown to end the game.

10. THE MAP TO THE PLAYOFFS

This reminded me of the presidential election:

10 Thoughts For The Week of November 29, 2020

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1. THE PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION BEGINS

While spending a majority of his time declaring victory and making claims the election was stolen from him, President Trump authorized the transition of power to President-elect Biden. Biden began picking a very interesting Cabinet. Outside of having no answers for COVID, the president has never conceded anything to anyone in his adult life. He likes to say he got the most votes of a sitting president. How could he concede having the most votes against him.

2. WHAT’S THE RUSH WITH FIRING SQUADS

The Justice Department has been moving very quickly to bring the firing squads for federal executions back. President Trump wants to get them instituted to by the time he leaves office. Is this the president trying to keep some kind of twisted campaign promise? Is there a wing of the conservative movement that thinks firing squads are a major issue.

 

3. LEWIS HAMILTON TO BE KNIGHTED

This spring, when I was really missing sports, I started watching Drive to Survive on Netflix. While he was never on the camera during Season 1, Lewis Hamilton’s presence was everywhere. His season was not dramatic enough because he was winning just about every race.

It was announced that Lewis Hamilton will be knighted.

If there is anyone who reminds me of Tiger Woods, it is this guy.

 

4. THE TED CRUZ GUARANTEE

Why does this guy believe he has any chance to be president in 2024?

5. THE 1PERCENT RULE

If you have had some curiosity about income disparity or why progressive ideas to level the playing field, this article by James Clear explains a lot. It is a great read!

 6. AN ALL BLACK REFEREE CREW WORKS MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

This is far too long in the making.

7. SCOTUS AND HOUSES OF WORSHIP IN NEW YORK

The Supreme Court of the United States has drawn the line that the First Amendment right to worship is more important than keeping people safe in a pandemic. The Court determined that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions on the capacity of house of worship to 10-25 people was unconstitutional.

8. ROBLOX LIVE EVENTS

The lack of meeting in person and in large groups has forced most of us to virtual events. We all have our Zoom meetings. I have been an exhibitor at a virtual trade show. Now entertainers are putting on virtual events in Roblox.

Roblox is a video game my seven year old plays where he creates his character and plays in many different worlds. I am disappointed that we both missed out on the Lil Nas X concert.

 9. TRUE IDENTITIES OF POP CULTURE ICONS REVEALED

Alex Solis is a master artist who has done some brilliant reveals of the true identities of pop icons. They are super fun and put a smile on my face.

 10. KLAY THOMPSON

Last week when I wrote about the craziest week in NBA history, I didn’t mention Klay Thompson was at the center of things. Thompson injured his Achilles tendon on the day of the draft. There was a definite thought, which was later confirmed, Klay was going to be out for the entire 2020-21 basketball season.

I am not sure if it affected the Warriors picking James Wiseman with the Number 2 pick. However, the acquisition of Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Ken Bazemore showed there was a hole in the roster that needed to be addressed. It could also be insinuated by the moves of the other Western Conference teams that it was time to strike while the Warriors were down a star.

Losing Klay is a big deal but there is still a lot of talent on that team. I think that people are sleeping on Steve Kerr as a coach as well.

10 Thoughts For the Week of November 22, 2020

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1. IT’S OVER FOR TRUMP

Two and a half weeks after the election, it appears that Donald Trump and his hopes for a second term as president is OVER. The state of Georgia certified Joe Biden as the winner of the state’s electoral votes; despite Lindsey Graham’s attempts to influence things. President Trump tried to start a coup in the state of Michigan which fell short. Just about all Trump’s frivolous lawsuits have been dismissed due to lack of evidence.

The events that convinced me the presidential election was finally over when people started turning on Ivanka. Ivanka had one job during this administration. She was supposed to be the only influential person in the president’s circle with a conscience. She failed. Now that the ship is sinking, nasty stories about Ivanka have been surfacing.

The events that convinced me the presidential election was finally over when people started turning on Ivanka.

2. TRUMP PETTINESS CONTINUES

Last week, I talked about Trump firing Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper. It was an unnecessary move for a president who was about to lose an election. Trump had probably wanted to do it since June when Esper publicly contradicted the president.

The pettiness continued this week when Trump fired Christopher Krebs who was the head of cybersecurity for the presidential election after he declared the 2020 election was “the most secure election in American history.” Once again, another petty move.

3. NBA TRADES

The highlight of the week has to be the NBA trades made before, during and after the NBA Draft. The Oklahoma City Thunder were at the center of the trades. The week started off with Dennis Schroeder being traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Los Angeles Lakers for Danny Green. By everyone’s understanding, this is an upgrade for a team that just won the NBA championship. It felt like the rich getting richer.

Oklahoma City then traded Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns. Paul had a renaissance season with OKC last year. There is an excitement that comes from hoping he has the same kind of season with a Suns team that went undefeated in the NBA Bubble.

The Al Horford experiment in Philadelphia ended after one season when he was traded to Oklahoma City.

All these trades make me curious who are going to be on the roster for Oklahoma City next season.

4. NBA DRAFT

The NBA Draft was fun for the first ten picks. Then there was all the minutiae of what kind of skills people were bringing to the table. Anthony Edwards was the first pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves. I think the pick may have been influenced by the relationship between Timberwolves star D’Angelo Russell and the Ball Family. I am happy for Edwards who had to overcome some serious blows losing family members.

LaMelo was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets which is a good place for him. Personally I appreciated the quiet of having Lonzo in New Orleans. It would be really nice if LaMelo was super quiet and humble.

My highlight of the draft was Obi Toppin going full crybaby after being drafted by the New York Knicks. I am rooting for this dude to be the guy to help turn the franchise around.

 

5. NBA FREE AGENCY

The beginning of NBA free agency started off with Gordon Hayward leaving Brad Stevens and Boston Celtics to join the Charlotte Hornets. It doesn’t feel like a move that puts him in better contention to win the title, but time will tell.

Rajon Rondo used a brilliant performance in the Finals to get some money from the Atlanta Hawks.

I think the Miami Heat are going to miss Jae Crowder and Marc Gasol going to the Lakers is another example of the rich getting richer.

6. PATRIOTIC EDUCATION

Tate Reeves, the governor of Mississippi, has set aside $3 million for the Patriotic Education Fund. The funding would go to schools that don’t engage in what Reeves calls “revisionist history” that is “poisoning a generation.” He claims its a far-left agenda to make sure students learn about all the complete history of our country instead of just the achievements. It’s ironic the governor of the state that hosted the most public lynchings would not like to talk about them and would rather focus on a man on the moon.

It’s ironic the governor of the state that hosted the most public lynchings would not like to talk about them and would rather focus on a man on the moon

7. PITTSBURGH STEELERS ARE 10-0

The 1972 Miami Dolphins have not cracked their annual bottle of champagne when the final undefeated team loses their first game. The Pittsburgh Steelers at 10-0 are the current challenger to the perfect season. Pittsburgh’s defense is straight nasty. T.J. Watt is now the best Watt brother in the NFL. Big Ben looks like having a year off has made him a better quarterback. It doesn’t hurt to have JuJu Smith Schuster and Chase Claypool to throw the ball to. They seem to be the most complete team in the NFL.

 

8. USC IS 3-0

USC is 3-0 after dominating the Utah Utes. This game has determined the PAC-12 South champion the last couple of years; so USC is in the driver’s seat. Utah’s lack of a quarterback and the USC pressure led to too many turnovers.

The USC receiving corps is so talented. They have five guys who could be “the guy”; it really depends on what game it is.

 9 THE BEATS “YOU LOVE ME” COMMERCIAL

No words necessary.

10. WONDER WOMAN 1984

After being frustrated by Disney/Marvel’s continual delay of the next wave of the MCU, DC has announced that Wonder Woman will be released on HBOMax at the same time it is released in theaters. I understand that these movies are a business and money-makers but we all need a good superhero movie after all the crazy stuff we have been through in 2020.

10 Thoughts for the Week of November 1, 2020

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1. DODGERS WIN THE WORLD SERIES

The 60-game season and bubble playoffs of Major League Baseball concluded with the Los Angeles Dodgers being crowned the champions. Corey Seager was deservedly the MVP of the Series. It was an entertaining and stressful series. This was the first one since 1988.

I have had a surreal feeling about the Dodgers win but I was not as elated as I thought I would be. The Dodgers were hands down the best team in baseball and winning the World Series was more of an expectation than an achievement. Maybe I was used to my own annual expression of disappointment the team couldn’t reach the mountaintop.

My only point of reference for championship feelings are the Lakers of the 2000’s and the Pete Carroll USC Trojans. I was far more elated for those championships. I think because those teams always had a finiteness to it. There was always a free agent or draft eligible junior whose absence could make it very difficult to repeat the championship.

The Dodgers do not have that problem. They are loaded to compete for championships for the next three to five years…at least.

 

2. JUSTIN TURNER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

A strange thing that happened during Game 6 of the World Series is Justin Turner was pulled from the game in the eighth inning. It was later disclosed he tested positive for COVID. I find it strange the results were only discovered in the eighth inning. I guess I wrongly assumed that a player would have to test negative before he would be allowed to play in the game.

I was definitely uncomfortable seeing Turner on the field celebrating. I am just going to throw the MLB under the bus for not doing their job before the game. Maybe they knew but they didn’t do anything until they were pretty certain the Dodgers were going to win. Maybe they didn’t want to postpone the World Series to quarantine the players.

3. KEVIN CASH’S DECISION NOT MAKE MONEY

During Game 6, there was a collective exhale of relief when Kevin Cash took the ball away from Blake Snell. Snell was having one of the best outings in World Series history. He had spent five innings baffling the Dodgers.

While this was unusual for the World Series, this was not unusual for the Rays. Blake Snell had not pitched past the sixth inning all season. Cash trusted his bullpen which, it could be argued, was a big part of their success. The move didn’t hold up when they needed it the most.

Unlike the Dodgers, the Rays aren’t built to get back to the World Series. Their window is closing as they let the team options for their important pieces go.

4. MAIL-IN VOTING

94 million mail-in ballots have been cast so far in the 2020 election. That is two thirds of the number of votes cast in the 2016 election. The state of Texas has received more mail-in ballots than they did votes in 2016.

I think there is a collective fear in out country of our vote getting suppressed in one way or another.

5. MAKE SURE YOU VOTE

I voted…did you?

6. HUNTER BIDEN SEX TAPE

Two weeks ago, Rudy Giuliani claimed he had Hunter Biden’s laptop. He also admitted there was a chance the laptop came from Russian intelligence. The laptop didn’t gain any traction. President Trump tried to bring up Hunter at the last debate. That didn’t gain much traction. The week before the election, a Hunter Biden sextape was discovered in Russia. Boy! These guys are desperate.

7.LIL WAYNE AND TRUMP

Watch out hip-hop heads…the President is coming for you.

He stole from Ice Cube’s Contract with Black America to enhance his Platinum Plan. Last week, 50 Cent backed Trump, but then Chelsea Handler slapped some sense into him and he endorsed Biden.

This week, after meeting with Lil Wayne, who Trump called an activist, social media was ablaze. Wayne complimented Trump for criminal justice reform and the Platinum Plan.

I love the talents of Kanye, Ice Cube, and Lil Wayne, but they are not they guys I look to help me make decisions about the future of the country.

8. TOM BRADY & ANTONIO BROWN

Antonio Brown signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week. Last we saw him, AB was getting cut by the Raiders and the Patriots. He also had some issues with the law. Not exactly the guy you want on your team, but what Tom Brady wants he gets. They made such a connection during Brown’s short stint with the Patriots that AB is living with Brady so he can learn the playbook.

9. RIP SEAN CONNERY

We lost a great one on Saturday. At the ripe age of 90, his performances are too numerous to name. It’s difficult to lose an actor who has brought so much to the table for so long.

10. TREVOR LAWRENCE TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

College football is a very confusing sport. The season has teams starting at different times. Coastal Carolina University is in the AP Top 25. Cincinnati is in the Top 10. USC is ranked #21 and they haven’t played a game yet.

Wisconsin is on quarantine for three weeks.

Trevor Lawrence, the de facto #1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, tested positive for COVID. Clemson barely beat Boston College last week. This week they travel to #4 Notre Dame and Lawrence’s participation is in doubt. The result of the game will have no bearing on Lawrence’s draft status, but it is hard to say the same for Clemson.

 

 

10 Thoughts For The Week of October 25, 2020

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Sorry for the delay getting this post out…I think online learning and too many Zoom meetings caught up with me.

1. LOST BORDER CHILDREN

What has to be the most shocking story of the week is the release of ICE losing track of 545 children who were separated from their parents when they were caught crossing the border. The separation was supposed to be a deterrent for future crossers. A common sense assumption for such a deterrent is a plan to reunite the children with their parents. After all, who would want to be responsible for caging and feeding these kids for a long period of time. Maybe they think losing kids will be a bigger deterrent.

2. PASTORS FOR TRUMP

In a survey of Protestant pastors who plan to vote in the presidential election, more than half intend to vote for Donald Trump. The supposed moral leaders of our country have sold their souls to a real estate shyster to overturn Roe v. Wade. I wish they felt as strongly about criminal justice reform or income disparity. I guess they don’t really know what it means when God says “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

3. E. JEAN CARROLL v. TRUMP

This week the Justice Department attempted to defend Donald Trump in a lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll. She accused Trump of sexual assault. He called her a liar. She filed a slander and defamation lawsuit claiming calling her a liar damaged her reputation. The Justice Department, which should not be the president’s personal attorney, claims they should represent him because he made the statement as part of his job as president and you cannot sue the government for defamation.

4. RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE CHARGED WITH HACKING AND ELECTION TAMPERING

The Justice Department, in a completely different move, charged six Russian Intelligence officers with hacking including the 2016 election, the 2018 Winter Olympics and many other events. Just in case there was any dispute about that.

5. 2020 WORLD SERIES

The World Series has been all a baseball fan can ask for. The Dodgers dominated in Game 1 behind Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger. Blake Snell and Brandon Lowe lead the Rays to a win in Game 2.

Game 3 was dominated by Walker Buehler. In Game 4, the Dodgers were let down by their manager and their bullpen. Dave Roberts left Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen on the mound too long and the Rays took advantage.Kershaw was dominant again in Game and the bullpen was solid.

So much of past postseason failures have fallen on Kershaw in an unfair manner in my opinion. I am glad that he has been able to shine this World Series.

6. FINAL PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

The presidential debate was a vast improvement from the first debate. The mute button played a big part. I cannot understand why Trump goes out of his way to talk about conspiracy theories. Maybe there are people who see it differently, but I always think that he is shooting himself in the foot. I do understand I am not part of the demographic he is trying to reach. The only thing that makes sense to me is he is getting ready for a civil war and he wants to make sure all the people with guns and crazy agendas know he is with them.

7. TRUMP CHINESE BANK ACCOUNT

The New York Times published a story about the discovery of a bank account in China that was not disclosed on the president’s list of assets. It may be that he has bank accounts everywhere. The fact that the account has never been disclosed before is a little disturbing.

8. 50 CENT SAYS VOTE FROM TRUMP

Last week, I brought up Ice Cube shopping his Contract with Black America plan to both presidential campaigns. This week, 50 Cent announced that he was voting for Trump because he would pay more taxes if Biden was elected.

If I gave Ice Cube flack for trying to help black people, I have to give ten times as much to 50 Cent for just thinking about himself.

 9. GOOGLE ANTITRUST LAWSUIT

The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. It is convoluted and will take a long time to work out. All I can really say about the lawsuit is this is just the beginning.

10. PENN STATE BASKETBALL COACH RESIGNS

Pat Chambers, coach of the Penn State basketball team, resigned this week after months of turbulence about a racially insensitive statement he made to a player. He told the player he wanted to “loosen the noose around his neck”. The player blasted the statement all over social media.

I am debating who was right and who was wrong. I was more curious if there was a racially offensive statement I could say to a white person that could cause the same kind of response.

10 Thoughts For the Week of October 18, 2020

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1. ACB CONFIRMATION

There is nothing more frustrating than a Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearing. Particularly when you only need 50 votes, and you already have them, there is no incentive to honestly ask a question.  Even though she had made statements in the past, she refused to comment on them. She didn’t have any serious skeletons in the closet like Brett Kavanaugh to make things more interesting. I am not sure if there was enough time to dig up the skeletons. Outside of her sexual preference comment, she was backed by people calling her a woman of faith. 

I am glad the Democrats didn’t just sit around trying to trip her up. They made sure to talk about the 215,000 people who have died from COVID-19, Republican hypocrisy and the end of Obamacare. She may be confirmed. But I like the way they didn’t waste their time.

2. NLCS

The Dodgers and the Braves have battled into what is aptly called a championship series. Each team has given the other their best shot. The Brave shut the Dodgers down for the better part of two games. The Dodgers had a 15 run explosion in game three. Atlanta put up 10 runs in Game 4. The Dodgers pounded the Braves at the end of Game 5. Then they put up three runs in the first inning of Game 6 and that was all they needed.  

Game 7 was a battle that was climaxed by Cody Bellinger’s 7th inning home run. Corey Seager was the MVP of the NLCS which he completely deserved. What I was most impressed throughout the series was the Dodgers defense.

3. ALCS

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros went the full seven games in their series with the Rays coming out on top. The Astros battled back from being down 3-1 in the series. They were on a mission to clean up their reputation. They were the team everyone couldn’t wait to lose. It would be a great karmic mistake if they were to win the World Series the same year after they were exposed for cheating. 

4. TRUMP AND Q’ANON

The President’s love of conspiracy theories appears to have come back to bite him. During his town hall this week, President Trump was given a chance to denounce Q’Anon. Instead of being rational the president ducked and dodged and made Q’Anon look like white supremacists. 

The whole event was supposed to be an opportunity for the president to bounce back from his terrible showing at the first presidential debate. Unfortunately Trump is a one-trick pony and the trick is not working anymore.

5. TRUMP AND ICE CUBE

So I heard a lot of buzz about Ice Cube being connected to the Trump campaign. I had to get to the bottom of this; so this is what I know. Ice Cube has been shopping his Contract With Black America Plan to both presidential campaigns. He was being courted by both campaigns.

The Trump campaign, desperate for black votes, put in more work. They add one of the items of Ice Cube’s plan to their own. Then Katrina Pierson, a Trump advisor, announced Ice Cube helped the administration with its economic plan. In response, all hell broke loose.

Ice Cube is treating this whole issue like a mercenary. He has more loyalty to his plan and his people than he does to a particular party. I am not sure if that is right or wrong. Trump had four years to do something economically for black people, but has really only made promises in the last six months. I tend to lean toward Diddy’s movement to get rid of Trump.

6. THE TRUMP-WHITMER WAR

Last week, I talked about the plot to kidnap Michigan governor Meg Whitmer. This week another man who was surveilling her home was included in the number of people charged with the conspiracy and it was discovered that the plot included kidnapping Virginia governor Ralph Northam.

Governor Whitmer has gone around calling this incident domestic terrorism. President Trump blames Whitmer and has called her a dictator. I wonder if the president would feel the same way if the FBI had arrested a ring of men plotting to kidnap and execute him. I doubt he would take responsibility and call himself a dictator. He has even brought back the “Lock Her Up” chant…one trick pony

7. THE HUNTER BIDEN LAPTOP

How Hunter Biden’s laptop ended up with Rudy Guiliani is one of the most unbelievable stories in this whole election cycle. It is the equivalent of a murder suspect’s weapon being delivered to the prosecutor’s office. No wonder Facebook and Twitter have marked a New York Post article about the laptop as misinformation. Guiliani himself has acknowledged there is a 50/50 chance the laptop was given to him by the Russians.

8. NEW ZEALAND PM RE-ELECTED IN A LANDSLIDE

Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, won re-election in a landslide this weekend. Her re-election was fueled by the way she handled COVID-19. She swiftly locked down the country and began reopening things back in June. She also brought stability to the country with her leadership.

I know we are not New Zealand, but decisive stable leadership is not how I would describe the president’s response to the pandemic.

9. HUBBLE TELESCOPE SHOWS STARS BEING BORN

No words necessary.

10. 23-0

23-0 is Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s record against his former assistants who have gone on to coach other teams. The big question is why the SEC continues to hire these guys. It is obvious they don’t have the secret sauce.

10 Thoughts for the Week of October 11, 2020

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1. WOLVERINE WATCHMEN

On Thursday, the FBI charged six men with conspiracy to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. Whitmer’s strong response to COVID caught the ire of the conservative militias. I read an article about this militia movement and it made me consider the possibility of a civil war for the first time. These militias believe that such a war is inevitable and I am feeling like I am behind.

2. COVID HITS THE NFL

This past week, the NFL announced sixteen players who had tested positive for COVID. The biggest names were Cam Newton and Stephen Gilmore of the New England Patriots. Games have been postponed and rescheduled. I am a fan of Tuesday night football and I think it is good there have been no fatalities from the illness.

The positive tests seemed almost inevitable when you considered the NFL was not going to play in a bubble like the NBA and the MLB playoffs.

The NFL is a $3 billion industry so it will take multiple deaths to put an end to the season. Especially when they can postpone.

3. VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

When I think of the VP debate on Wednesday, I think I want to answer questions by answering something totally different. I wonder if you can do that in real life. All you have to do is say “that’s a great question” and then you can talk about whatever you want to talk about.

That would have been ok if Vice President Pence didn’t make a scene by constantly speaking over his time limit.

I didn’t think either person won the debate. It was not an event that was going to change peoples’ minds.

4. BIZARRE TRIBE

As a fan of A Tribe Called Quest and the Pharcyde, I had to put this song as one of the best things I heard this week. It is a mash-up of two of my favorite songs of all time.

5. LAKERS WIN THEIR 18TH CHAMPIONSHIP

Afters years of frustration and futility, the Lakers are back on top. Lebron James and Anthony Davis brought the star power. Rajon Rondo, KCP and Adam Caruso came up with the timely plays to seal the deal. This series was a war until Game 6. Hats off to the Heat for a valiant effort. They are going to be battling for titles for the next couple of years.

The Lakers got back on top the Laker way, they brought in the best free agent who can lift the team to the top. They tried it with the draft and player development but that is not the Laker way. It was good to have all that young talent to trade away for Anthony Davis.

6. DODGERS IN THE NLCS…AGAIN

I am excited for the Dodgers as they are back in the National League Championship Series. The Padres tried to give them a battle, but it was a dominant win. The hitting and the starting pitching are top line. The fact they don’t have a lights out closer is a little scary. They are the best team on paper and I worry the pressure is on them to win it all.

7. THE BEST THING I READ THIS WEEK

Violets, by Bud Smith, is a great story about the ups and downs of marriage and the spark that changes everything.

8. COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS

It is hard for me to take the college football ranking seriously when half the teams haven’t played yet or are not playing at all. It is hard for me to believe Cincinnati is ranked eleventh in the country. 

9. COVID SURGE

The rate of COVID cases has surged back up to almost 50,000 new cases a day. Explain it any way you want.

10. RAFAEL NADAL

Congrats to Rafael Nadal who won his 10th Grand Slam Title by winning the French Open. Nadal is truly a legend. He is also not the cookie-cutter tennis player. He was a rival of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. While there are no great American players, this is a great era of tennis.

10 Thoughts For the Week of October 4, 2020

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1. TRUMP TAX RETURNS

If Donald Trump has ever had a worse week than this week, I cannot imagine what would make it worse. The week started off with the New York Time releasing Trump’s mysterious tax returns that could not be released because they were being “audited” by the IRS. 

The detail of the tax returns that stuck with everyone is that Trump paid $750 in federal taxes in 2016. My family and I are doing well and we still don’t make as much income as the president did in 2016. However we paid almost ten times as much in taxes. 

There are those who say that the tax law is the true problem. The problem by applying that to the president is that he got himself over-leveraged by applying for loans and telling banks he had several high-value assets as collateral. Then he filed tax returns that he claimed losses of more than $150 million. One of those statements cannot be true and makes the president guilty of committing a crime. 

2. KENTUCKY ATTORNEY GENERAL TO RELEASE THE GRAND JURY RECORDINGS IN THE BREONNA TAYLOR CASE.

After one of the jurors of the grand jury in the Breonna Taylor complained about the proceedings resulting in no charges against the police officers who shot Ms Taylor, Daniel Cameron, the attorney general of Kentucky, said he would release the recordings from the grand jury. 

One of the jurors disclosed Cameron never put the question of wrongful death charge to the jurors. Wasn’t that the most important question to take to the grand jury.

3. THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

President Trump’s worst week continued when he came out too strong at the debate on Tuesday. It was hard to call Tuesday’s event a debate. There was no debating. If there were two black candidates, I would have called it the dozens. I couldn’t understand Biden’s policies because Trump was constantly interrupting him. I couldn’t understand Trump’s policies because he spent the whole event insulting Joe Biden. 

4. TRUMP TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

It looks like Trumps wear a mask “when appropriate” came back to bite him. It bit his wife in the butt. There are also nine other people who have tested positive connected to the president’s diagnosis. 

Things have come full circle for the president who called the virus a hoax and then said it would miraculously disappear.

5. FOX GUTS ITS FACT CHECKING DEPARTMENT

COVID has even affected Fox News who laid off some 70 people. 30 of those people came from the fact-checking department. I didn’t even know they had a fact checking department.

6. MLB PLAYOFFS

The MLB Playoffs have moved to the Divisional Series round. This round is feeling very personal. Everyone seems to be playing their division rival. For the Astros, the remainder of the playoffs will be personal if they play the Yankees and the Dodgers.

7. WEIRD OREO FLAVORS

On the somewhat weird front, I read an article ranking strange Oreo flavors. I think watermelon made me puke in my mouth just thinking about it.

8. LAKERS ARE UP 2-1 IN THE NBA FINALS

The Lakers are on in front of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Miami lost two of its best players to injury in Game 1. This should allow the Lakers to march to an 18th NBA championship. The question is whether they are tough enough to put Miami away. Jimmy Butler will make sure they do not go quietly.

9. THE BEST THING I READ THIS WEEK

This week, the best thing I read was an article about how social bots and humans spread fake news like wild fire. This is because of the novelty hypothesis.

10. ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE

A piece of art I can get behind.

10 Thoughts for the Week of September 27, 2020

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1. BREONNA TAYLOR INDICTMENTS

The most insane thing to pop up this week was the state of Kentucky’s refusal to charge any of the officers who shot Breonna Taylor with murder. Ms. Taylor was shot ten times and there was no charge. The only charge was a wanton recklessness for the three bullets that went through her walls into her white neighbors apartment. 

With no charge for the death of Ms. Taylor, the wanton recklessness charge feels like a slap in the face. As Derrick Johson of the NAACP said “the justice system has failed us”. He forgot to put “again” at the end of that sentence.

2. DANIEL CAMERON

The Republican superstar and attorney general of Kentucky made sure to claim he could not find facts for murder. The Mitch McConnell protege made sure to say that mob justice was not justice. What Mr Cameron fails to recognize is the same “mob justice” was used to break the back of Jim Crow in the 1950’s and 60’s.

3. RAIDERS ON MNF


The Las Vegas Raiders opened their new stadium with a very impressive win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. It was a signature win of the second Jon Gruden Era.

4. MICHAEL JORDAN ENTERS NASCAR

Michael Jordan (The GOAT) has started a NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace as the driver. This is a big move for Jordan and it feels like he is kicking the hornet’s nest. I hope he is a better NASCAR team owner than he is a NBA team owner.

5. MARVEL PUSHING BACK BLACK WIDOW MOVIE…AGAIN

Disney announced they were going to back up the release date of the Black Widow movie to some time next year. This is disappointing because it delays the next chapter in the MCU. Disney is delaying it because they want the money that comes from showing it in movie theaters. With all that is going on, why not give it Premiere Access like Mulan? I wouldn’t pay $30 for Mulan but I would for Black Widow.I believe Star Wars and Marvel are cultural property. Disney should not be able to exploit them for profits. Just my feeling.

6. THE ROSA PARKS OF THE PANDEMIC

I read an article in the New Yorker about the Michigan Militia and a barber who refused to close his business during the government imposed shutdown. His supporters claim he is the Rosa Parks of the pandemic. He compared the government control to the Third Reich and he was not going to be a Jew who naively walked into a freight train and to certain death.

I am not sure how refusing to shutter your business to prevent the spread of deadly virus is the same as refusing to move to the back of the bus to protest a system that made black people second class citizens. I am also not sure how it compares to the extermination of a race of people.

7. TRUMP’S ATTACK ON CRITICAL RACE THEORY

I also read an article about Trump’s war against critical race theory. The biggest tenant of critical race theory is that America must reckon with how its values and institutions feed into racism. First Trump issued an executive order banning federal contractors from conducting racial sensitivity training, emphasizing his desire to stop “efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex- and race-based ideologies”.

He also believes it is attacking our “patriotic education.” I guess the truth is a dangerous thing.

8. KANYE WEST VISITS HAITI

The Kanye West for President campaign made stops in Jamaica and Haiti last week. In Hait, he said he came to “complete the revolution and rebuild Haiti”. As someone who has spent some time in Haiti, I am grateful someone is giving it some attention. I love the island of Haiti and it breaks my heart all at the same time.

9. THE U

The University of Miami is back in the AP Top 10 (for what it is worth) after spanking the Florida State Seminoles 52-10. There have been many false sightings of the return of “The U”. I have been a sucker for some of them and skeptical of others. This time may be legit. They have a real quarterback and the defense was dynamite.

10. LAKERS ARE BACK IN THE FINALS

The Lakers have returned to the Finals for the first time since the Kobe Bryant Era. This would be a great year to win to honor Kobe. They will face the Miami Heat who are more formidable than anyone believed pre-bubble. The Heat actually scare me because of people like Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic will be the X-factors in this series.

10 Thoughts for the Week of September 20, 2020

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1. CLIPPERS GONNA CLIP

Last summer, when the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George, everyone thought they were going to be contenders. They added two all-stars to a team of scrappy players who overachieved with no all-stars the year before. Things were supposed to be different. 

Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers had created a new culture in LA. The addition of Leonard and George was supposed to be a new era for the Clippers. 

The curse of Donald Sterling is hard to break. I never thought about it until the Clippers made it to the 2nd round and people were excited about a Clippers/Lakers conference finals. The Clippers had never been to the conference finals. The last time they were this close, they were up 3-1 on the Houston Rockets and lost three games. This time the Clippers were up 3-1 on the Denver Nuggets and were up late in two of the last three games before losing.

2. PAUL GEORGE

After watching Paul George over the last three seasons, I have decided he is not the difference maker people think he is. He has had good to great regular seasons and when ended in disappointing performances in the playoffs. One season is not a big deal, but three years of not showing up when your team needed you the most is more than a coincidence.

3. WHAT ABOUT THE NUGGETS

I don’t want to take anything away from the Nuggets. They have come back from being down 3-1 in two straight series. Their resilience cannot be underestimated. It seems like the longer a series goes, they seem to figure the other team out and get better. Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr are dynamite when they are hitting on all cylinders.

They are down 3-0 to the Lakers and it is hard to write them off until they lose that fourth game.

4. RIP RBG

On Friday, we lost an icon. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg passed away after years of battling and fighting to stay alive for the election of a new president. She had made so many strides for women and been a force on the bench. We lost a great one.

5. MITCH McCONNELL

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to quickly get a vote on the president’s next nominee for the SCOTUS. This is the same Senate Majority Leader who would not bring Merrick Garland up for a vote when he was nominated nine months before the 2016 election. He argued it should be up to the American people to decide who picks the next justice. Now that we are forty days away from the election, Mitch has changed his opinion about the American people deciding who should pick the next justice. 

President Trump has promised to nominate a woman. Already two Republican Senators have stood up and said they would not vote for a nominee before the election. Nancy Pelosi has said she will start impeachment proceedings to stall a Senate vote on a nominee. Joe Biden went as far as to say he will demand the nominee withdraw if he is elected.  

6. 8 STRAIGHT FOR THE DODGERS

It’s almost like clockwork. The Dodgers clinched their eighth consecutive postseason this week. As good as the Padres have been this year, I don’t see anyone in the NL West giving the Dodgers trouble for a long time. They have the talent and the farm system to keep this streak going for a long time.

7. WHAT’S UP WITH THE AP POLL?

In its pursuit of normalcy, the Associated Press has released their weekly poll for college football. It seems kind of strange given half of the teams in Division I football are not playing right now. Is there really going to be a national championship this year?

8. JA MORANT GOES AFTER THE ONE REPORTER

Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies was voted the NBA Rookie of the Year. He made a point of forsaking the 99 reporters who voted for him and going after the one reporter that did not vote for him.

9. QUEEN & SLIM

A timely movie I gotta watch this week was Queen & Slim. It had elements of Bonnie & Clyde and a heist movie; while dealing with the civil unrest issues that have plagued our country the last six months.

10. BEST THING I READ THIS WEEK

Check out A Story for Your Daughters, a Story for Your Sons by Rebecca Makkai

10 Thoughts For the Week of September 13, 2020

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1. 9/11

After 19 years, it is pretty amazing how 9/11 feels as fresh as yesterday. I still remember when I first heard about the planes hitting the tower. I remember going to work and being sent home. It was confusing and slowly developing for someone living in California. I guess that is what they mean when they say “We Will Never Forget”.

2. MILWAUKEE BUCKS

For the second year in a row, the Bucks have had the best record, the best defense, and the best player in the league. For the second year in a row, they didn’t get to the NBA Finals. The Miami Heat played inspired basketball and Giannis got hurt. Outside of Game 4, it didn’t appear the Bucks had the next gear that championship teams have to make it to the next level.

When I look at comparisons, I think of Jordan’s Bulls and Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers. They were both teams that had spent two or three years to get over the hump.

3. DANUEL HOUSE

When I heard about Danuel House being expelled from the NBA Bubble because he was entertaining one of the on-site testers, I thought of the Morris Day song “Gigolos Get Lonely Too”. The players were in the bubble for two and a half months and I guess it was too much for House; or was it love at first sight?

4. LAKERS ARE BACK IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Due to Danuel House’s indiscretions, the Lakers destroyed the Rockets en route to the Western Conference Finals. This is the first time the Lakers have been in the playoffs since Kobe hobbled off with an Achilles injury. I would like to think of them as the favorites but their play has not inspired me they will steamroll the rest of the competition. Truth be told, they are a Dame Lillard injury and a Danuel House expulsion from being in two tough playoff series.

5. R.I.P. TOOTS HIBBERT

The music world lost a legend this week when Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals passed away. Their music was so joyful and Pressure Drop is a classic.

6. BLACK REPUBLICANS

This week, I listened to an interesting podcast about Black Republicans. It was a great conversation about the movement of African Americans from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party in the last half of the twentieth century. 

What I found most interesting is that as a people African Americans are conservative. They have conservative views, but they have zero tolerance for racism.

7. A COMPETENT PRESIDENT

Last week, I mentioned the challenging opinions of how many people in the United States would have died of COVID. Well German Lopez, of Vox, claims if the US had the same response to COVD that Canada did, 100,000 would still be alive.

8. THE NFL IS BACK

The NFL is back at a time that does not feel as strange as baseball and basketball. After watching the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, I think they are the favorites by a lot. Tom Brady lost his first game as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Bill Belichick looked like he didn’t miss Tom Brady. It’s only Week 1.

9. DOG MAN

Dog Man is a family favorite at my house. The latest installment of the Dog Man saga Dog Man: Grime & Punishment has been the best selling book in North America for the last three weeks.

10. SOCIAL MEDIA & POLITICS

A recent poll from the Pew Research Center asked Americans their opinions about social media platforms’ ability for raising awareness was very surprising to me.

10 Thoughts for the Week of August 30, 2020

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INTRODUCTION

What a week! Putting this piece together took a lot more decision making than I normally make. There are so many diverse things to talk about as well.

1. Republican National Convention

I could only stomach so much of the Republican National Convention this week. I did suffer through the last half of Tim Scott’s speech. I even heard Herschel Walker spoke at the RNC. The true spectacle was Wednesday night where President Trump turned the convention into a true reality television show. First Trump pardoned Jon Ponder (well deserved). Then he oversaw a naturalization ceremony for five people. I was waiting for him to push the button to launch a missile into Iran or China.

2. JACOB BLAKE

Much like George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks before him, Jacob Blake is a name I should not know that I know. Jacob was breaking up a fight between two women when the police arrived. They tased him and Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times at close range. No matter what he was doing, he didn’t deserve that. The video is horrifying.

3. NIKKI HALEY

Two night after Jacob Blake was shot, Nikki Haley spoke at the Republican National Convention and said America is not a racist nation. 

4. NBA BOYCOTTS

Wednesday was Boycott Wednesday. It started with the Milwaukee Bucks boycotting their game which led to three days of no NBA basketball and questions of whether the playoffs were going to continue. It’s rare that I feel as proud of the NBA players as I do now. Their boycott has led to the teams turning their arenas into voting centers with more to follow. A basketball returned on Friday, the boycott was not over; it was paused to see if NBA owners were going to keep their word and move forward with initiatives for change.

Boycott Wednesday reminded me of the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Dr. Martin Luther King. You mess with peoples’ money and they become more open-minded to change.

5. MLB BOYCOTTS

On Boycott Wednesday, only three games were postponed due to boycott. I am proud of my Dodgers being one of those games (Thank you Mookie Betts). It would be super ironic the franchise that opened the door to Jackie Robinson would ignore people of color at this time.

The fact that only a fraction of the games on the schedule for Wednesday were postponed says a lot about the game itself. There are very few African American players in the game and there are fewer who stand up at times like these. 

They should take a note from Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from a tournament she was favored to win to protest the Jacob Blake shooting.

6. KYLE RITTENHOUSE

Rittenhouse is another name I should not know…but I do. He showed up at a protest in Kenosha with a Smith and Wesson AR-15 style rifle to protect a friend’s shop. After he allegedly shot two people to death because he felt his life was threatened and wounded another, a photo showed how Kenosha police ignored him as he walked down a street with his hands up. He was charged with first-degree murder.

7. HURRICANE LAURA

In the midst of all this drama, Louisiana has been battered by Hurricane Laura. It is

sad that with everything going on this #7 on my 10 thoughts this week.

8. BACK TO SCHOOL

My son started 2nd grade this week and school was online. He worked in my office with me while I was working. It was super EXHAUSTING. I am trying to be patient because I know there is no proven playbook for online learning. We were all volunteered and our kids are guinea pigs to figure it out or all the kids get the vaccine; whichever happens first.

9. BOLAWRAP

The LAPD has been testing out BolaWrap as a safer alternative to chokeholds and shootings. The LAPD has requested an extension of time to continue testing. I support anything that would reduce chokeholds and shootings.

10. MESSI WANTS TO LEAVE

Last week, I mentioned FC Barcelona’s loss in the Champions League and the leadership’s contemplation of making Leonel Messi available for transfer. Messi got his feelings hurt and now there are rumors of Messi moving on to Manchester City or Juventus with Cristian Ronaldo.

10 Thoughts on George Floyd

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  1. Rodney King — This is where it all begins for me. It always goes back there for me.
  2. Ahmad Aubrey — The spark of the latest fire. A jogger is harassed and shot. The video released two months after the fact. I can still see Ahmad trying to run away and collapsing to the ground.
  3. Breonna Taylor — In the past a number of people have died resisting or fleeing from arrest. The death of Breonna Taylor was an example of pure incompetence. The officers who killed her were trying to serve a warrant on the wrong address. The address had actually been canceled earlier in the day.
  4. George Floyd — Another name that I should not know. I am disgusted I know his name the same way I know the Kardashians. I know George Floyd because he died needlessly. I know the Kardashians because they are famous for being famous…I guess.
  5. 8:46 — Eight minutes and forty-six seconds was the amount of time Derrek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. I listened to the audiobook for Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, Gladwell interviews the officers who tortured Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 911. The torture exercises were timed and extended for the terrorist. The time is there to make sure they torture but do not kill the party. It seems there should be a time limit for kneeling on someone’s neck to make sure you apprehend them but not kill them.
  6. Mama — George Floyd called for his mama while all of this was happening. That indignity angers me more than I can put words to at this time.
  7. Protests — I have watched and taken part in protests in the last couple of weeks. The diversity of the protesters has surprised me in a good way. My inner cynic wants to know where all the “woke” people will be in six months. At first, I was creeped out when I see white people chant “Black Lives Matter”. Then I started thinking that if racism is taught, anti-racism needs to be taught as well.
  8. Trump and His Bible — DISGRACEFUL!!! What was that photo-op supposed to achieve? What was the message supposed to be?”I use violence so I can show the new media I am all about peace”? I am amazed at how many people can’t see through this garbage.
  9. Candace Owens — I appreciate Candace Owens making sure the whole world knew that George Floyd had a criminal record. I guess that makes it ok for what happened. Did he deserve to die? She is up there with the Kardashians for me.
  10. Rashard Brooks — Another name I should not know. He fell asleep in a Wendy’s drive-thru. Then he was shot in the back by a cop. He did struggle and he did run away. Is falling asleep in a Wendy’s drive-thru the type of crime that puts the whole city in danger? If he got away, couldn’t you arrest him later?

10 Thoughts on What is in My Journal

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Introduction:

When I was a fourteen, my dad bought me a journal from Z-Gallerie. I liked any little chotsky from the little store on Melrose. I once bought a toothbrush from there that I used far longer than any toothbrush should be used.A year or two later, my dad gave me a Moleskin journal, from that very same Z-Gallerie. He told me the lore of the Moleskin and mentioned something about Hemingway. I didn’t think much about journals or writing. I liked the idea the journal came from the Z-Gallerie. He finished by saying I should write down my thoughts.

About a decade later, I finally took my dad’s advice and started writing my thoughts down. I discovered as Joseph Joubert says “writing is closer to thinking than speaking.” I explored and got in touch with things I had no language to talk about. Since that time, writing in a journal has evolved for me. I wrote opinions, story ideas and a lot of hurt feelings.

Around the same time, I read “Wild Mind1” by Natalie Goldberg and committed to writing every day. I have also read by “The Notebook of Anton Chekhov2” and Joan Didion’s “On Keeping a Notebook3”. The biggest influences on my journal at the time were Langston Hughes’ “The Big Sea4” and Spike Lee’s book on “Do The Right Thing5”.

Since that time, I have also borrowed certain elements from the latest journal keeping craze and writing exercises that worked for me.

What I am listing here are the 10 ingredients that make a journal entry for me. My journal entries are like omelets; there are very few rules and they are easy to make. I grab whatever in the fridge that is my brain and throw it in the pan. I have been making omelets for the last twenty years and it continues to evolve.

1. Purpose

Let’s start with the main ingredient. Everything in our world has a purpose. Even when I sit in front of a television and do nothing for a couple of hours, I have a purpose. If afterwards I classified my TV time as a waste of time, I confirm there was a purpose to the time. When a person sits down and writes in a journal, they have a purpose. My purpose is to scour my innerspace in order to move forward as a person and write about my journey. 

Just as one figures out what makes a good omelette even better, there will be some tinkering with the ingredients. Your purpose dictates the direction of your tinkering. When I first decided to do more with my writing, my journal became more than a place where I wrote down my thoughts. Writing down my thoughts was an omelette that has eggs, cheese and some bell peppers. I wanted to add more ingredients to my recipe.

2. Gratitude

All of my writing starts with gratitude. It is easy to focus on the negative. In the past, I unconsciously used my journal as a complaint log. It was a launching pad for negativity and bitterness. When I read some past journal entries from this time, I feel sad and depressed. There were a lot of pages wasted on hurt feelings.I started to turn things around after I read The 4:8 Principle6. Tommy Newberry has great insights and advice to keep a person focused on gratitude. Part of the process are five questions the reader is supposed to ask themselves every day. The questions are good for putting a person’s life in perspective, but they were too limited for journaling. Lately I have been using the Five Minute Journal. I find it to be cleaner and less redundant.

3. Reading

Linda Sue Park says reading for writers is like training for athletes7. I grew up playing competitive sports so this quote rings like an absolute truth. My journal entries always have mentions of the book I am reading or an article I read. Writing about what I am reading is the best way for me to  explore and understand what I am reading. I have used a Zora Neale Hurston essay8 that turned into a blog post. 

Sometimes I want to make notes about the author’s style or themes they are addressing in a piece of writing. Have you ever been enjoying an omelet and, at the same time, trying to figure out what the ingredients are so you can try it at home? There are components in the writings of others. I would like to add to my own recipe.

I recently read Primo Levi’s Other Peoples’ Trades9 where he brilliantly explores insects, books, computers or works of art with some of the most beautiful writing I have read. I have learned so much about writing in just 220 pages.

4. Past Journal Entries

In addition to reading books, I read my past journal entries. 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts run through a person’s head each day.  With so much traffic running through my head. I have found it is good to remind myself what was important at a particular time. I read the entries from the past week to see if there are topics or themes I need to explore and write more about. I also look back three months, six months and annually for the current day. I try to pick up on serial themes and ideas in my own life. I am sometimes amazed to see I was wrestling with the same question  I contended with six months ago. Sometimes I see little things from six months ago and realize there is more to write about, a particular topic or idea.

I also like to read my past journal entries to fight the 24-Hour news cycle. Our society has a collective forgetfulness caused by the speed of the deluge of information we are being bombarded with.

Recently I have seen how COVID-19 has changed our world. I have been amazed at how things have changed so quickly in the matter of a month. I barely remember the fires in Australia, the Trump impeachment trial, Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing and many other smaller events.  Overnight, my life became about toilet paper, social distancing and crisis teaching my seven year old. 

5. Google Keep

At some point I decided I wanted my journal to be a place for a different kind of writing. I wanted a test kitchen for my omelets. At the time, my journal was part writing and part junkyard with scraps of quotes, ideas and random dialogue. What I needed was another place to store the smaller scraps that created triggers or may turn into writing later. I needed a storage freezer for special ingredients to try in my test kitchen later. After trying numerous approaches from a file folder to mind-maps; from Instapaper to One Note, I settled on Google Keep. It is simple and has limited features, but they are the exact features I need. Bells and whistles can be a rabbit hole of distraction to me. My mind has a bend toward organization and playing with bells and whistles  instead of writing. With Google Keep, I  can make notes, save websites and attach pictures, video and voice notes. 

My daily Google Keep note contains a Mind Dump, a Love/Hate list and all the ideas, websites and pics that I stumble upon throughout the day. I try to start the day with a Mind Dump where I make a list of whatever comes off the top of my head. I sort out my morning fog and see how all these different items play out throughout my day. I also use a Love/Hate list on my Google Keep Note. I find myself loving and hating things throughout the day and I need some time in my journal to figure out why. 

6. Writing Prompts

Writing prompts are great for exercising the old writing muscles or coming up with new story ideas. If I get stuck while writing a story, I will plug my characters into a writing prompt to unlock something new about them. 

At the beginning of each month, Writers Write put out a list of short one or two word prompts for each day of the month. They also send daily writing prompts. 

Another idea I use which goes back to what I am reading is a Six Word Writing Prompt. Something else influenced by Hemingway. How this works, is when I find a six word phrase (Don’t get legalistic about the number of words.) from my reading that moves me and I use it to start a writing piece.

7. Premises

My journal is a place to explore my premises. A premise is three sentences to a paragraph that serves as a compass for the direction of the writing. August Birch has a great template for a premise. Under the theory of opportunity cost, doing one activity costs a person the opportunity to do something else. I apply a series of questions to see if it is with intense some serious time into it, cut bait, or does it need to marinate longer.   

8. 5 Whys

A practice that has been very helpful in exploring topics and questions

is the 5 Whys. Sakichi Toyoda, the Japanese industrialist, inventor, and founder of Toyota Industries, developed the 5 Whys technique in the 1930s. It became popular in the 1970s, and Toyota still uses it to solve problems today. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a or problem by repeating the question “Why?” Each answer forms the basis of the next question. 

I am a slow processor. I feel the tip of the iceberg and I need to ask myself “why” five times to figure out what is under the water. The method has helped me address some of my fears and dig into some of things that anger me.

9. Clippings

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I can’t write them all down

in one sitting. I need to revisit those thoughts and feelings by just turning to a particular page and looking at this picture glued in my journal. I paste images into my daily Google Keep Note. I also get out my scissors and glue stick to paste pics from magazines, pics from my travels, postcards and newspapers into my journal. I find this works better than writing about what I felt or thought because of the picture. 

10. No Drafts

In the event I decide to write a story or an essay, it does not go in my journal. I have a separate Moleskin journal where I write my first drafts. This goes back to purpose. My journal is a place for my mind to explore ideas and wander. It’s a sketch pad for my words. It’s my test kitchen where I tinker with recipes and use myself as the guinea pig. Writing a draft is like chiseling on a piece of marble in an effort to make a sculpture.

Conclusion

Now it’s time for you to tinker in your test kitchen. Go into your fridge and pull out the things that would make a good omelet. Crack some eggs and test it out.

Works Cited

Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich. Notebook of Anton Chekhov. Echo Library, 2006.

Didion, Joan. The White Album. HarperCollins Publishers Australia., 2017.

Goldberg, Natalie. Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. Rider & Co, 2009.

Hughes, Langston. The Big Sea: an Autobiogr. Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1988.

Lee, Spike, et al. Do the Right Thing: a Spike Lee Joint. Simon and Schuster, 1989.

Levi, Primo, et al. Other People’s Trades. Royal National Institute of the Blind, 2005.

Newberry, Tommy. The 4:8 Principle: Christian Art Publishers, 2009.

Park, Linda Sue. A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story. Oneworld Publications, 2018.

Endnotes

1.  Goldberg, Natalie. Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. Rider & Co, 2009.

2.  Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich. Notebook of Anton Chekhov. Echo Library, 2006.

3.  Didion, Joan. The White Album. HarperCollins Publishers Australia., 2017.

4.  Hughes, Langston. The Big Sea: an Autobiogr. Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1988.

5.  Lee, Spike, et al. Do the Right Thing: a Spike Lee Joint. Simon and Schuster, 1989.

6.  Newberry, Tommy. The 4:8 Principle: Christian Art Publishers, 2009.

7.  Park, Linda Sue. A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story. Oneworld Publications, 2018.

8.  Cohen, Samuel S. 50 Essays: a Portable Anthology. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2020.9.  Levi, Primo, et al. Other People’s Trades. Royal National Institute of the Blind, 2005.

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Who Makes the Difference – 10 Thoughts on Who is the Impact Player in the NBA Conference Semifinals

As I watch the NBA Playoffs, I realize (1) how good the games are and (2) the series will not always be decided by the marquee players. Here are ten players to watch out for if their teams are going to advance to the Conference Finals.

  1. Pascal Siakam – If you saw my previous post, you know that Siakam was the MVP for the Raptors in the first round. Now he means even more to them. When the Raptors have won, Pascal has been amazing. Without him, Toronto is to easy to defend for the Sixers.
  2. Jimmy Butler – Jimmy Butler was exactly the guy that Philadelphia needed for the playoffs. While I thought he would have more of an impact on defense, Jimmy’s offense has been indispensable. The Sixers needed someone to take big shots and make his shots (sorry J.J. Redick). Jimmy grinded the Sixers to victory in Game 2. The team rode his grit in Game 3.
  3. Joel Embiid – Embiid is a force of nature. When he is aggressive and active on both ends of the floor, the Sixers are pretty much unbeatable. When he is injured or unengaged, the Sixers defensive flaws will destroy them.
  4. Kevin Durant – Durant, who arguably has been the best player in the playoffs the last three years, is the Warriors unstoppable force. Curry and Thompson are great shooters. Draymond is the heart of the team. Durant is what makes the Warriors the favorites for a third straight championship. He can do everything on offense and he is underrated on defense. He can line up in all five positions and he may be the guy who breaks Kareem’s scoring record.
  5. Al Horford – Boston has their work ahead of them. They are facing the team with the best record in the NBA and the this year’s MVP of the league. Horford has to be the guy to put some form of handcuffs on the Greek Freak and be the ultimate mismatch for his team to stretch the floor.
  6. Al-Farouq Aminu – The Blazers are powered by Dame and C.J.. The difference maker is Aminu. You can tell how well Portland is doing by how many point Aminu has. He also has an impact on defense that makes up for the two undersized guards.
  7. Kyrie Irving – Kyrie is the winningest player in playoffs history. He is the ultimate clutch shotmaker. He was unstoppable against the Pacers. He needs to be just as unstoppable to you against the league’s best defense. For all it’s talent, Boston
  8. Torrey Craig – Torrey Craig is the only real defensive stopper on the Nuggets. They need someone to do something to slow Damian Lillard down he can. Denver is not a defensive juggernaut and needs Craig to make some plays, both offensively and defensively, to get them past a very talented Portland offense.
  9. Kris Middleton – The Buck will go as far as Middleton will take them. Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to put up numbers. The Bucks are offensively limited. They need Giannis and Middleton to be great.
  10. Chris Paul – If the Rockets are going to have a chance against the Warriors, they need more than James Harden. They need the return of the point-god. Paul needs to make an impact on both sides of the ball.

 

Honorable Mentions

Jamal Murray, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, Eric Bledsoe, Marc Gasol, Andre Iguodala, Jaylen Brown, Fred Van Fleet and Tobias Harris.

 

More Clown Than Fool Writing Group

Named after an Invisible Man quote, this is a writing circle for people who need community and accountability for their writing projects.

If you are a writer and looking for community and accountability, this is a space to exercise with a writing prompt, work on a project, and get feedback on your work. Find the inspiration, motivation, and community in this space.

Register here

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2020

1. THE NICKEL BOYS – Colson Whitehead

I have to start by saying I am the ultimate Colson Whitehead fanboy. I have read everything he has written; most of them more than once.  While The John Henry Days is my favorite Whitehead book. The Nickel Boys is definitely in my Top 5 Whitehead books. Writing something fictional about Nickel was pretty amazing. It didn’t have the mystical moments of The Underground Railroad. There is a scene of a boxing match that made me think of the battle royale in Ellison’s Invisible Man.


2. THEMES AND VARIATIONS – David Sedaris

I am not one to read a book and laugh out loud. Somehow, David Sedaris does it to me every time. The book is the shortest book I read in 2020,  but I could not stop laughing.



3. INVISIBLE MAN – Ralph Ellison 

Ellison wrote this book in the ’50s. It is sad, stunning, and soberingly reminds me not a lot has changed since almost seventy years later. One of my favorite parts is Ellison’s homage to Dostoevsky’s Notes From the Underground which transitions into his battle royale scene.

4. THOSE WHO RIDE THE NIGHT WINDS – Nikki Giovanni

If you haven’t read Nikki Giovanni, I feel sorry for you. Her poetry is heartsy, spiritual, and sensual. Reading her poetry is like listening to a Jill Scott song. Nikki is the Jill Scott of poetry or Jill Scott may be the Nikki Giovanni of Neo-Soul.

 


5. OTHER PEOPLE’S TRADES – Primo Levi

This was one of my favorite books of the year. Levi writes beautiful prose and you can tell from his observations, he sees the world in a deeply insightful way.

Our future is not written; it is not certain: we awakened from a long sleep, and we have seen that the human condition is incompatible with certainty.

6. SALINGER – Shane Salerno

This starts with a confession….I have never read A Catcher in the Rye. Salinger is one of the most intriguing Americans of the 20th century. He was part of the New York elite. He saw some of the worst parts of World War II.  He wrote one of the most amazing novels of the 20th century. Then he became an eccentric recluse who had a thing for very young women.

The format of the book is probably as interesting as the subject.

7. THE DEATH OF IVAN ILYCH AND OTHER STORIES – Leo Tolstoy

The novella about the death of Ivan Ilych is an amazing work about a man who has an accident and slowly dies. Tolstoy has such a mastery of the inner dialogue of man. He writes the inner workings of a man like no other.

There remained only those rare periods of amorousness which still came to them at times but did not last long. There were inlets at which they anchored for a while and then again set out upon that ocean of veiled hostility which showed itself in their aloofness from one another.


8. THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD – John LeCARRE

I decided to read the John LeCarre spy novels in chronological order in 2020. My kids were binge-watching Marvel and Star Wars in chronological order, and I decided to binge-read. I read the first four books: Call for the Dead, A Murder of Quality, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and The Looking Glass War. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is by far the best I read. It has the most action by far.

9. AFRICAN FOLKTALES – A. Kwada

A brilliant collection of folktales from all over the continent. The folktales are very entertaining and have some deep wisdom. I found my favorite stories were the origin stories of different animals or ways of the world.


10. THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES  – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I don’t know if I can say enough about The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. They are brilliant and Holmes is the character that is the base for so many other fictional characters moving forward. 

One of my favorite stories actually involves the Ku Klux Klan.

10 Thoughts for the Week of the Week of February 7, 2021 – Super Bowl and the Cape Man

1. SUPER BOWL

What I take away from the Super Bowl is Tom Brady may be a Super GOAT. Seven championships is something that you have to tip your hat to. In the end, I have become convinced that Tom Brady sold his soul to the devil.

On a straight up positive note, this is an amazing Super Bowl to think about. There was a black quarterback and three black coordinators representing the participants. Now all we need is some more black coaches. It’s a shame there are no more coaching vacancies this year.

2. BACK TO SCHOOL

My second-grader has gone back to school on a hybrid-basis. There was a certain amount of freedom that made me think this whole pandemic thing may be moving in the right direction.

3. WEEKLY REPARATIONS STUFF

Good news on the reparations front…The Virginia house will vote for colleges to make reparations for their role in slavery. It was slaves who built these schools, it makes sense that the colleges should give back to the ancestors of these slaves.

4. NEW COLSON WHITEHEAD BOOK

I am excited about a new book coming out in September. Yes! I am a Colson Whitehead fanboy. I am unapologetic and very eager to read this book.

5. WHERE IN THE WORLD IS KYLE RITTENHOUSE

In a moment that took me back to the Capitol Coup attempt, Kyle Rittenhouse is in hiding from the Kenosha Wisconsin prosecutors. Rittenhouse claimed he was attacked by protesters and shot them in the name of protecting a friend’s store. His attorneys claim to know his location but will not reveal it at this time. Like the Capitol Coup attempt, can you imagine if Kyle Rittenhouse was black and his attorneys pulled this kind of stuff? Have you ever heard of someone black who is convicted of crime to be released on bail to take a trip to Mexico?

6. COUP CONVICTIONS

This is how the convictions for Capitol Coup breakdown at the present time. Seems like it there is still a lot of work to do.

7. BLM NOMINATED FOR NOBEL PRIZE

For all the drama and political theater surrounding the Black Lives Matter group. What cannot be denied is BLM is movement of peace. So much so they were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Bravo!

8. RIP CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER

We lost a great one. Christopher Plummer had the depth and talent to play Claus Von-Trapp in The Sound of Music and Arthur Case in The Inside Man.

9. MARGARET TAYLOR-GREENE STRIPPED FROM HER COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENT

The House of Representatives voted to strip Margaret Taylor-Greene’s committee assignments. There are those who say this is some kind of partisan move. If you believe that, watch the videos and the things she has promoted and it all makes sense.

Ironically as Republicans back MTG and her foolishness, Liz Cheney was censured by the Wyoming GOP for voting to impeach Donald Trump.

How would one even define a Republican nowadays.

10 JAMES BROWN’S CAPE MAN DIES

Classic material…that all I can say.

10 Thoughts For The Week of January 17, 2021- A Whole Bunch of Stuff

1. MORE COUP STUFF

Last week, I talked about the coup that some people would like to call a protest. If there was any doubt, the revelations of the past week make it fairly indisputable. There were tours given to the insurrectionists by Congressmen the day before. There were people who brought weapons and nooses to the event that were definitely for more than self-defense. There have been 275 criminal cases open against the insurrectionists. What blows my mind, is an article posted by ProPublica which shows all the videos posted on Parler during the attempted coup.

2. INAUGURATION STUFF

The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden is coming. The FBI has put out warnings of attacks during the inauguration. Everyone is on high alert in Washington and all the state capitals. The National Guard is sleeping on the floor in the Capitol. There have been incidents of people being found with guns and ammunition.

3. 4,400 DIED OF COVID ON TUESDAY

Last week, 4,000 people died of COVID in one day to set a new daily record. This week, after the vaccine being out for a good amount of time, the number of deaths continue to rise. This week 4,400 people died on Tuesday. Sadly these sad numbers are being drowned out by impeachment and insurrectionists.

4. NEW COVID PROTOCOLS FOR THE NBA

The NBA has instituted new protocols to prevent players from getting COVID. Some players have made objections to these new rules. The NBA starting up again feels like a money grab. Everything about the NBA feels like they are going through the motions. The most compelling part of the game right now is the drama created by Kyrie Irving and James Harden.

Both guys have created a stir. Harden did everything possible to make things miserable for the Houston Rockets. He was finally traded to Brooklyn where Kyrie was making things miserable for the Nets.

5. 13 EXECUTIONS SINCE JULY

Dustin Higgs was the thirteenth person on Death Row executed by the Trump administration since July. This is the most executions during a presidency in 120 years. I really need someone to explain why Trump is so zealous about these executions. Are these sadistic acts or are there reasonable logic to the Even as he has lost the election and has less than a week in office, he continues to try to kill as many people as he can. It seems like he would have better things to do with his last days in office than kill people.

6. REPARATIONS STUFF

The cities of Portland Oregon and St. Paul Minnesota had made steps towards reparations. Momentum is building.

7. PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM

With all the talk of incitement and impeachment, President Trump tried to move attention somewhere else. He announced he was going to present New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichek, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It was a good idea. The coach didn’t want to play the game. It was an even worse look for the president. Hopefully Trump saved the loss by Toby Keith accepting the medal instead.

8. NFL PLAYOFFS

I was looking forward to this weekend of NFL Playoff football. The divisional round is for all the teams who truly belong in the playoffs.

The battle of the Aarons came down to Green Bay being better on both sides of the ball. The Rams had a championship defense but their offense was not up to snuff. Sean McVeigh is an amazing offensive mind, but he can only do too much.

Buffalo and Baltimore was a hard hitting game which may have ended differently if Lamar Jackson finishes the game. Baltimore is very similar to the Rams. They have a championship defense but they really need to figure out some things on offense.

Props to Cleveland for giving Kansas City a good game. Kansas City was not on their game but they had enough to make it to the next round. Chad Henne did enough in the last five minutes of the game to earn whatever they are paying him.

The battle between Tom Brady and Drew Brees came down to a disappointing performance from Drew Brees in what is probably his last game. There were four turnovers and they resulted in a majority of the points for the Buccaneers. Brady was not great either. He simply didn’t shoot himself in the foot.

9. IPAD STUFF

I got a new iPad for X-Mas. The 11’ iPad Pro came with a new cord for charging. It reminded me of when Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone. I hate being reminded of Apple’s money-grabbing efforts.

Not to be totally down on Apple. I am a true believer in Apple products. Here are some cool stuff I have been learning about my new iPad:

10. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BETTY WHITE AND JAMES EARL JONES

Happy birthday to two American legends! Betty White turned 99 and James Earl Jone turned 92.