Wednesday, February 24, 2010


New York is supposed to get hit by something called a snow hurricane, which sounds less like a weather pattern and more like something a maniacal Nicolas Cage confronts in a movie about the end of the world. Before moving to New York, I checked the weather report several times a day. You have to when you drive. Now, I hear about snowstorms a few hours before they hit, as if I'm living back in Walnut Grove with the Ingalls clan without access to modern meteorology. No matter what happens, the subways will run, though they might be delayed. No worries about shoveling snow or scraping ice. No worries about horrible roads and worse drivers. It's a benefit of living in the big city.

* Then there's the downside to life in New York. Since our return from Cape Town, we wake up every weekday at 8 a.m. to the sound of a gigantic jackhammer pummeling rock in a parking lot right next to our building. The project apparently began when we were in South Africa. And will continue for...well, no one really knows. Could be a month, maybe two. A year? No one knows. A giant wooden barrier stands in front of the construction site, making it impossible to peer inside. The hammering begins at 8 and ends at 4, with only a lunch hour in between providing silence. People who work from home have likely seen their productivity drop 75 percent and homicidal fantasies rise 10 percent. I escape it at 9:30, but the effects of this madness hits me much earlier. I now wake up at 7 or 7:30, popping up to stare at the alarm clock. How many more minutes until the drilling starts? Do I have a half hour of sleep left or 5 minutes? Adding to the mystery, no one knows what will be put in the spot, which was a parking lot. Someone said a business. Another person said a 24-hour parking lot, accompanied by those lifts that raise the cars. Should be nice and quiet. Small towns usually don't have these problems. 

* I'm making my return to our Wednesday night basketball after a five-week absence. It's not exactly Jimmy walking into the town meeting to tell the folks of Hickory he thinks it's time for him to start playing ball. But I'm looking forward to it, even if my lungs aren't. 

* This story by Chris Jones on Roger Ebert in Esquire has received a lot of praise the last few weeks, all of it justified. As a sidebar, Ebert's journal is also a must-read. He hasn't spoken in four years, but his writing is as prodigious and enjoyable as ever. And here's an interview with Jones, where he discusses the process of researching and writing the story. Interesting to everyone, but writers will find it especially insightful. 

* Do "youngsters" still listen to announcers when they tell them to pay attention to something that just happened in a game? It seems to happen in basketball more than other sports; apparently, young offensive linemen at home don't need to watch Flozell Adams' technique and instead should concentrate on becoming obese or investing in HGH. Brent Musburger does it all the time, especially when he's teamed on ESPN with Bobby Knight. Growing up, I liked receiving the tips from the broadcasting crew. "Now for you youngsters out there watching from home, remember to never dribble into the corner or you'll get trapped." They're usually simple things, but good tips. Block out. Don't back away from the line when releasing a free throw. To make it more realistic, Knight should scream the instructions to youngsters, perhaps while kicking Musburger in the shins.

* Children of the '80s and others raised on The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles and many more of his movies will enjoy this Vanity Fair story on the late John Hughes. It talks about why he basically dropped out of Hollywood in the 1990s , never to return. He didn't pull a Howard Hughes. Instead he devoted himself to his family and personal writing - stories, journals and scripts that were never meant to be turned into movies.

Today's Stuck in the Past moment from the Showtime Lakers. The first quarter of Game 1 of the 1987 Finals. According to this SI story, the Lakers ran 35 fastbreaks in the first two quarters and only 10 set plays. The ancient Celtics have no chance of keeping pace. 

The most remarkable thing about those fastbreaks is how many came after the Celtics scored, something that you almost never see today. 

That's a highlight of Magic's career - he won MVP of the series, his third Finals MVP.

Here's one of the lowlights. Or at least one of the more awkward moments. The Lakers retired his number in February 1992, three months after he left the game. It was a moving ceremony that concluded with Magic's speech. At 1:30, he mentions former teammate Norm Nixon and says, "Norm taught me all my bad habits." The crowd reacts with nervous murmurs. Guys like Kareem and Jerry West laugh knowingly. Considering Magic retired, based in part on his, um, bad habit of having unprotected sex with thousands of women, it's a strange time to thank the guy who helped show him how life as an NBA superstar works ("Now Magic, when a groupie approaches you...). The rest of the speech is pretty cool. Bird's there. McHale. Chick Hearn. Jack Nicholson. It would have been an emotional day regardless, but at this time, many people thought Magic would be dead within a few years. Today he's stronger than ever, even if he is carrying a few too many pounds.


Anonymous said...

"If I play, coach stays."

Shawn Fury said...

Does he only have two speaking scenes the whole movie? The meeting and, "I'll make it." He had a lot of range on his jumper. Acting skills, not so much.

Lisa said...

Did John Hughes direct St. Elmo's Fire? Another great 80's movie but no one ever talks about that one.

Shawn Fury said...

I don't think he did St. Elmo's Fire, but it starred a bunch of the Brat Packers who he made famous.