The World According to Keitho

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Archive for January, 2011

It’s not the joke, it’s how you tell it

Posted by keithosaunders on January 31, 2011

So much in life depends on conviction.  It’s often true that what you say matters less than how you say it.  A politician will not win an election unless the voters believe in his or her campaign promises.  How many of us will take the time, or have the wherewithal to check on the validity of his platform?  We take his word for it based on gut feelings.

When I lived in New York I would often go to my neighborhood bar to watch the Monday night football games.  One of the regulars, John, was an affable local hipster who was able to pontificate on any subject in great detail.  He used to regale us with tales of the gold standard, foreign policy, and outrageous political conspiracy theories.  I would nod good-naturedly and let him go on, a little skeptical, but not wanting to cause a fuss in this affable setting.

One day he told us that the saxophonist Sonny Rollins had written the composition, A Night In Tunisia, and during the recording  he had played a famous four bar break that was since unequaled.  I happen to know that Tunisia was written by Dizzy Gillespie and that the famous four bar break was played by Charlie Parker.   John had told the story with such confidence that nobody but a jazz aficionado could contradict him.  It was the same tonality he had used while discussing politics and finance. 

Today I came across a clip of the Today Showfrom 1994 in which Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric discussed this new craze called “the internet.”  To their credit they did not try to pretend that they knew what it was, but notice the conviction they used when asserting certain “facts.”  For instance Couric stated that people had used the internet to communicate when the phone lines went out after the Northridge earthquake.  “I thought you needed a phone to connect to the internet,” Gumble asked.  “No,” Katie replied.  But of course this was years before wireless connections were available.  The number of people who would have been able to get online without a modem would have been negligible.

I have come to the conclusion that half of the battle of life is convincing people that you know what you’re talking about.  Mix in one-quarter of ability, and one-quarter of luck and you’ll have a successful life.

Posted in life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The thrilla from Wasilla

Posted by keithosaunders on January 28, 2011

Every time Sarah Palin opens her mouth she lowers the bar as to how asinine a public figure can appear.  I feel unclean simply reading her comments.  That such a large segment of the population supports her positions and take her seriously as a pundit is a tribute to the permeation and success of reality TV. 

Her latest missive was delivered in response to  Barack Obama’s state of the union speech in which he unveiled the slogan, “Winning the Future.”  Here are Palin’s comments:

His theme last night in the State of the Union was the “WTF,” you know, “Winning the Future.” And I thought, “OK, that acronym, spot on.” There were a lot of “WTF” moments throughout that speech, namely, when he made the statement, Greta, that he believed that we can’t allow ourselves to, I guess, eventually become buried under a mountain of debt. 

How many hours do you suppose did it take her team to come up with the idea of taking a corny political slogan and turning it into a vulgar joke.  With Pailn you have someone who ostensibly aspires to the presidency, and here she is, in so many words, saying ‘what the fuck.’  I’m assuming that this is her attempt at appealing to the younger generation.  She’s speaking their language!  The language of the internet. 

The trouble is that it’s neither funny nor clever.  It comes across as facile and smarmy.  Furthermore, she delivered the line in the syntax of a caveman. 

“That acronym spot on.”  

 Sarah want be president.  She talk common language. 

In an era of dumbed down politicians that strive to appeal to the working class, Palin is an abomination.  Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney may be rotten as the day is long but they are intelligent people who deliver their ideas in complete, cogent sentences.  

Palin is incapable of critical thinking.  She has shrewdly capitalized on her fifteen minutes of fame.  Her folksy demeanor has resonated with a small but fervent segment of the population, but for most of us her act is wearing thin.     

I’ll say this for Palin.  She has done what I once thought was impossible – she’s made Geroge W. Bush appear introspective.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Same old Jets? Not really

Posted by keithosaunders on January 26, 2011

It was a disappointing championship Sunday for this ex-New Yorker and I can’t say that I’m looking forward to this years Superbowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Steelers need another Superbowl ring like the Bay Area needs more fog.  I’ll be rooting for Green Bay but I’m mostly just hoping for a compelling game. 

In Pittsburgh the Jets, after being all but left for dead in the first half, managed to put up a good fight, damn near pulling off what would have been the greatest AFC championship comeback ever.  They fell short due in no small part to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s terrific game plan.  He saw what the Jets secondary did to Tom Brady and he decided to go a different direction.  That direction consisted of running Rashard Mendenhall down the Jets throat.  Mendenhall single-handedly won the game for the Steelers in the first half rushing for 95 yards.  Every time he touched the ball it seemed as if he gained at least 8 yards.  The opening drive alone ate up over nine minutes.  Ben Roethlisberger, or as someone on my Twitter feed referred to him as, Rapey, did not have a great game statistically but he made the clutch plays down the stretch.  None was more devisatating than the 3rd down 14 yard completion to Heath Miller with less than two minutes in the game.  Roethlisberger was flushed out of the pocket and it looked for an instant that he would be sacked but he managed to get the pass off while being chased to the sideline.  You just can’t tackle him!

 Jets coach Rex Ryan has taken a lot of heat for his post game comments in which he said that the Jets will be back in the championship game and that he expects to win a Superbowl.  Media and fans alike seem to want Ryan to keep a lower profile.  I heard his post game interview and I found nothing offensive about his comments.  What do people want him to say — that the Jets had their chance and will be lucky to return?! 

I became a big Ryan fan after the foot fetish story broke.  The way I see anyone freaky enough to post foot videos of him and his wife on youtube is OK in my book!   As far as I’m concerned he’s got carte blanche to talk as much trash as he sees fit.   

The truth is that the Jets are not as good as the Steelers.  Their defense is top of the line but too often their offense has been inconsistent.  Does anybody really believe that Mark Sanchez, at this point in his career, is a Superbowl quarterback?  What the Jets really need going forward is a home playoff game.   

So are these the same old Jets?  I don’t think so.  After several years of mediocrity the Jets are relevant again.  They have been to the championship game in consecutive years and they are a relatively young team.  They didn’t choke against the Steelers; in fact they were a few plays from pulling off the upset of the century.  Pass me the koolaid!

Mike Tomlin and Rex Ryan

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One night in East Rutherford

Posted by keithosaunders on January 23, 2011

The date:  January 22nd, 1987.

The location: East Rutherford, New Jersey

The weather:  Blizzard

My friend and occasional guest blogger, Jeff, had tickets to the new Jersey Devils game versus the Calgary Flames.  It was a midweek night game and the plan, as per usual, was to meet him in Washington Heights at 5PM.  Jeff lives in the Bronx and at that time worked in Manhattan, while I was living in Brooklyn.  Rather than go back to the Bronx, which was out-of-the-way, Jeff had parked uptown very close to the entrance to the George Washington bridge. 

By the time five o’clock rolled around there was already a foot of snow on the ground and it was still coming down hard.  Jeff and I were young and fearless and we weren’t going to let a little weather stand in the way of  seeing the Devils and Flames bang and smash each other into submission.

Jeff had snagged the all-time classic blizzard parking spot.  He was at the end of the street facing downhill so he didn’t have to dig out of his spot — all he had to do was ease into traffic, make a right turn and we were on the bridge crossing the state line.  Once we hit the Jersey Turnpike the traffic came to a dead halt.  It was practically white out conditions and it was rush hour to boot. 

We inched along wondering if we would miss the start of the game.  We arrived at Byrne Arena an hour and a half later —  a half hour after the scheduled start —  but we soon discovered that the game was being delayed since many of the players were stuck in the same traffic!

When we entered the arena we found that we had it practically all to ourselves.  There were only 334 people who showed up!  An announcement was made inviting us to sit anywhere we pleased so we moved up to the front row behind the Flames penalty box.  The anthems were dispensed with due to the late start and the banging and smashing commenced.

I’ll never forget the strange feeling of being inside of a 20,000 seat arena with so few people inside of it.  It was like being at a practice.  The sound of the players being checked into the boards reverberated throughout the building like thunder and we could hear the players shouting at each other. 

At one point  the Flames designated goon, Nick Fotiu, received a five-minute major penalty.  As the PA announcer said, “five minutes,” Jeff waved the Daily News at him and asked him if he’d like to read the paper while he’s in there.  He actually turned around and threw a menacing glared our way.  It was scary so we moved up a few rows and kept a lower profile.

On the way home the snow had stopped after depositing two feet and the temperature had dropped into the teens.  There were abandoned cars that had spun into snow banks all over the Turnpike.  When we reached my house in Brooklyn the lock on my front door had frozen so Jeff climbed in through one of the unlocked windows and was able to open the door from the inside.

While we were at the game someone from the Devils P.R. office had circulated a sign in sheet asking us to fill out our address.  Two weeks later we received Devils t-shirts in the mail that said, “The 334 Club”  I wore mine for years until it disintegrated —  I believe Jeff still has his.  Four years ago. on the 20th anniversary of the blizzard, the Devils honored the 334 fans who attended that infamous game by giving us free tickets and inviting us to a post game banquet.  Jeff and I attended that game. 

Here I am 24 years later in Berkeley, California, where it was 67 degrees today.  It’s hard to believe that I attended a game in a blizzard at a time when the Devils were perennial cellar dwellers.  I’m glad I did.

Posted in sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Bono, shut up!

Posted by keithosaunders on January 20, 2011

Sargent Shriver died yesterday.  I mostly remember him as George McGovern’s vice presidential nominee in 1972.  McGovern had originally selected Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton, but when allegations of his mental instability were leaked (he had been hospitalized some years earlier) he was forced to resign from the ticket.  Shriver was a desperation choice; the McGovern campaign had already offered the vice presidency to Hubert Humphrey, Ted Kennedy, Edmund Muskie, and Walter Mondale, all of whom declined.  It was in this light that I was exposed to Sargent Shriver.

It turns out that Shriver had an illustrious career.  He married Eunice Kennedy, the sister of John Kennedy and under the JFK administration he served as the first director of the Peace Corps.  After JFK’s assassination,  Shriver became the chief architect for Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, founding several programs, most notably Head Start, VISTA, Job Corps, and the Special Olympics.

This morning I was reading the Times and there was an editorial remembering Shriver’s life.  Imagine my surprise when glancing at the byline I saw…Bono.  Couldn’t they have found anyone slightly more qualified?  I don’t need to read about Shriver from a dime-store hipster whose singing voice has all the charm of a cat in heat. 

The Irish saw the Kennedys as our own royal family out on loan to America. A million of them turned out on J.F.K.’s homecoming to see these patrician public servants who, despite their station, had no patience for the status quo. (They also loved that the Kennedys looked more WASP than any “Prod,” our familiar term for Protestant.)

So far so good — a little Irish perspective.  Not sure what it has to do with Shriver, but fine.

I remember Bobby’s rolled-up sleeves, Jack’s jutted jaw and the message — a call to action — that the world didn’t have to be the way it was. Science and faith had found a perfect rhyme.

I will now address Bono personally:

OK, first of all, shut up.  Second of all, SHUT UP!  You do not get to call John Kennedy Jack.  You were three when he died!  As a matter of fact, we’re the same age and you don’t see me writing editorials as if I used to summer with the Kennedys at the Cape.  How come I grew up in Los Angeles and hardly even remember Bobby, yet you, from all the way across the pond, have vivid recollections of his attire and mannerisms?  Remarkable. 

To sum up, Sargent Shriver did great work, and Bono has done admirable humanitarian work as well.  I wonder when the time comes who the Times will choose to write McGovern’s obit.  Hopefully not Taylor Swift. 

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Group

Posted by keithosaunders on January 19, 2011

Here is a track from my trio CD, Lost In Queens.  I am very proud of date and think it is a good representation of my trio, which consists two of my all-time favorite musicians — Bim Strasberg on bass and Taro Okamoto on drums.

The Group

The CD is available here.

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On any given Sunday: JETS!

Posted by keithosaunders on January 17, 2011

Nobody, including myself, thought that the Jets were capable of beating the Patriots on the road in the playoffs.  Except for Rex Ryan, their coach.  Maybe it’s the power of the foot fetishist but Ryan, in both of his  years as Jet head coach, has taken the Jets to the brink of the Super Bowl.

This year the Jets must travel the most improbable road, beating Indianapolis, New England, and this sunday, Pittsburgh.  No team had ever beaten Peyton Manning and Brady on consecutive weeks until yesterday.  Can you imagine a team beating those two plus Roethlisberger on three straight weeks?!  How about Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger and Aaron Rogers?  I’m crazed with success!

It could happen.  When you have a team that plays defense at the level that the Jets do anything is possible.  Brady was completely frustrated as time and again he had nobody to throw to.  He was sacked five times and sent to the ground numerous others.  It will be a little tougher to get to Roethlisberger, who is more mobile, but if the Jets can control the ball on the ground as they did against Indy — eat clock and get a few big plays from their receivers —  anything is possible.  Sanchez will give you fits which is why I like that Ryan has, for the most part, has not forced him to make big plays, staying on the ground and sticking with the short, high percentage passing game.

Is there anything more joyous than sending blowhard Bill Belichick on an early vacation?  Yesterday Belichick benched Wes Welker, who had broken a Patriots rule about not trash talking,  for the first series of plays.  Belichick wanted to send a message to Welker, but I thought he was really trying to send a message to the Jets.  Bill tried to out-cocky Ryan by in effect saying that the Pats could beat the Jets without their best receiver.  Nice try, Bill.  Enjoy your offseason.     

 

Posted in Jets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Do you feel lucky today?

Posted by keithosaunders on January 15, 2011

Gun owners can rest easy.  Those of us who are in favor of legislation to prohibit automatic weapons, or to limit the size of the clip one can purchase, are a fringe group.  We are destined to stand on the sidelines so that the majority of Americans can be free to protect their families.

The state of the gun union is strong.  Since last Saturday’s murders in Tucson sales of guns in Arizona are up 60 percent.  Why wouldn’t people want such an effective implement of protection? After all, since last Saturday’s tragedy there have been over 300 gun fatalities in the U.S.  Probably a few more have died in the time it has taken to write this post.  With protection like that who needs police?

In Friday’s NY Times there was a man-on-the-street article that interviewed gun proponents.  Here is an excerpt:

I carry a gun because it is a personal preference and for my own personal safety,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, one of several lawmakers who carry a concealed weapon in their districts. (His is a Glock 23.) “It’s not for everybody. Not everyone should rush out because of what happened last week and start carrying, but I like it, and I do it.” Representative Gabrielle Giffords once said that she herself owned a Glock — the same firearm the man accused of shooting her is said to have used.

I’m just your standard boiler plate pinko liberal, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how having a gun would have averted the tragedy in Tucson.  The second Loughner began shooting there wasn’t a thing those people could have done.  The only way a gun works in your favor is if you shoot first! 

Here’s another citizen.

Erich Pratt, the director of communications for Gun Owners of America, said his organization and others were girding for at least a skirmish in Congress. “But I think after the November election it’s going to be very tough for Carolyn McCarthy and even the Peter Kings,” he said “Why should the government be in the business of telling us how we can defend ourselves?”   Mr. Pratt added: “These politicians need to remember that these rights aren’t given to us by them. They come from God. They are God-given rights. They can’t be infringed or limited in any way. What are they going to do: limit it two or three rounds. Having lots of ammunition is critical, especially if the police are not around and you need to be able to defend yourself against mobs.”

Is this man fucking insane?  God gave us the right?!  I’m a little unclear on who governs the country:  Is it God or the constitution?  Pratt feels that the most effective way to protect himself is to have the potential to murder dozens of people in less than thirty seconds.  Safety first!

Finally let’s here from David Workman:

Dave Workman, senior editor of Gun Week, a publication of the Second Amendment Foundation, said the gun control lobby was trying to exploit the shootings. “The average gun owner,” he said, “is saying: ‘I didn’t fire any shots in Tucson. I just want to go hunting, or protect my family, and this is just going to create more paperwork and more headaches for me.’ ”

Paperwork. 

I don’t know if it is possible to quantify the number of times a gun works as protection but it would be dwarfed by the amount of deaths by accidental shooting.  I wonder if the Colt AR6920 had been around in the 18th century if the 2nd amendment would have been worded differently.

 

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Clyde

Posted by keithosaunders on January 13, 2011

Those of you not lucky enough to live in the New York area have probably not heard the greatest color commentator in the NBA.  I am speaking, of course, of one-time Knicks guard Walt Frazier.  One the things I miss most about living in New York is not getting to hear him on a regular basis.

As a star point guard he quarterbacked the Knicks to their only two championships in 1970 and 1973.  At one point he held Knick records for assists, points, free throws, field goals made, and free throws made.  Most of these records would later be eclipsed by Patrick Ewing but his assist record stands to this day.

As an announcer there is no one like him.  Not only does he have a mellifluous voice but his cadence is extremely rhythmical.  There is something musical, not only about the words he chooses, but how he delivers them. 

He has a way of working rhymes into his analysis.  Some people find this corny — I think it’s great.  

The Knicks are dishin’ and swishin; Ewing is dupin’ and hoopin. 

He has a great vocabulary and he uses words in interesting ways and his metaphors are vibrant.  You can tell that Frazier would have been a great jazz musician; he is improvising with words.   

It’s not just the rhymes, it’s the delivery and the timing.  When you listen to Clyde you feel as if you are stepping into a time machine and emerging in the early 1970s.  He’s got an aura of flash and cool about him.  It’s as if you can hear the mohair suit and the mutton chops!

“He [Raymond Felton] diligently works on denying his man the ball.  He’s become the catalyst for the team’s improved defense.  Then the other teams’ big guys have to try to orchestrate, but then they’re in disarray and turn the ball over.”

Recently I’ve stumbled upon a Clyde impersonater on twitter.  You can tell that this guy has immersed himself in Frazier-isms and his feed is a loving tribute.  Here are a few samples.  His name is ‘notwaltfrazier’ and if you are on twitter he is worth following.

Just saw the #Lakers-#Cavs score! This embarassin’ has little comparison’!
 
Came back from the bathroom to see Mike Breen messin’ with my chair. Not trustin’ his adjustin’!
 
Amar’e and Nor’easter. Partners in creatin’ random punctuatin’!
 
What’s with Portland turnin’ your knee into debris? Playin’ for the Blazers is riskin’ your meniscin’!
 
Carmelo’s lookin yellow with all this talkin’ and balkin’!
 
Got me thinkin’ about Willis in Game 7. His limpin’ was pimpin’!
 
Skippin’ breakfast got me stumblin’ and grumblin’! Appeasin’ with ham ‘n cheesin’!
 
Mike Breen is still mad I re-scheduled his wake-up call for 4am LOL. My prankin’ got him crankin’!
 
 Finally I direct-tweeted him this:
 
Keith:  Clyde, your tweets are delightable and recitable!
 
 And he responded
 
notwaltfrazier:  C for grammar, A for glamour!  

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Nurture vs torture

Posted by keithosaunders on January 12, 2011

Yesterday I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal that is among the most provocative I have ever seen.  It is written by a Yale professor named Amy Chua, a first generation American whose parents are ethnic Chinese who grew up in the Philipines.  The article is titled Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior and serves as the thesis for her latest book, Battle Hymm of the Tiger Mother.

Chua’s thesis is that Chinese parents produce successful children because of hyper-strict discipline which is instilled in a stern, yet loving environment.  Here is the reader’s digest version:    

1) Nothing is fun until you’re good at it.  To that end hours of practice is required at the expense of leisure time.  (playdates and sleepovers are not allowed)  Parents demand good grades from their children because they believe they can get them.

2) Parents believe their children owe them everything.  The parents have sacrificed much, putting in long hours tutoring, interrogating, and even spying on their kids.  Their children, in effect are born into debt.

3)Parents believe they know what’s best which therefore overrides their children’s own desires and preferences.

The article has to be read to be believed.  My brief synopsis does not do it justice.  Chua’s parenting is so humorless, totalitarian, and unforgiving, that at some point I began to wonder if whether I was missing the point.  Could the article be satire? 

She begins with a series of bullet points detailing activities that are forbidden to her children.

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play

• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

• get any grade less than an A

• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

 • play any instrument other than the piano or violin

• not play the piano or violin.

It is a list worthy of a Simpson’s episode.  The article has a surreal quality to it and it straddles the line between pursuit of greatness through endless repetition and a sardonic nightmare from which there is no escape.

Chua states that Chinese parents can get away with things that Americans cannot.  As a child she was called “garbage” by her father when she misbehaved.  She in turn directed this same epitaph at her own daughter.  Chua, however, sounds surprised that after recounting this anecdote at a dinner party she was immediately ostracized. 

For me this does not add up.  Chua, an American, must have known this story would be offensive to most people.  She also must realize, that on some level, her method of parenting borders on abuse.  I have to wonder how much of this book is a testament to narcissism and/or an effort to justify her abuse. 

The article pushes buttons and it opens several cans of worms, not the least of which is racism.  Are we to believe that the Chinese are a super race possessing super-human amounts of concentration and talent?  Or are we supposed to be repelled and feel superior in some way?  Either way it is unsettling and I have to wonder what Chua hopes to gain

As a pianist I was offended by Chua’s badgering of her daughter to practice.  Her seven-year old girl, who clearly had no inclination towards music was frustrated with a difficult piece. 

“Get back to the piano now,” I ordered

“You can’t make me.”

“Oh yes, I can.”

Even Chua’s husband tries to intervene, taking Chua aside and asking her not to insult their daughter.  Chua persists, threatening her daughter with no lunch, dinner, and Christmas presents.  Finally she  threatens to give her doll house away to charity and this, she proudly recounts, does the trick.  The girl learns the piece and Chua puts another notch into her parenting belt.

I’m filled with a mixture of admiration and revulsion.  I admire her conviction and courage.  Right now, with the article having gone viral on the net, she is public enemy number one among parents.  I have read dozens of comments rebutting her screed, most of which are thoughtful and well written.  I have read very few that I would consider ‘flames’ and none that are racist.  I have to give it up to her for having the guts to  lay herself open for attack — she must have known it was coming.

On the other hand, perhaps she is courageous like a fox.  Everyone is talking about this article and book.  This can only translate into one thing…sales.

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