No (Only) Big (Cities) Allowed (In The NBA Finals)

Miami Heat forward-center Chris "Birdman" Anderesen.
Miami Heat forward-center Chris “Birdman” Andersen.

Flipping channels between innings of the Marlins-Rays game in Miami, I happened to catch an altercation between Miami player Chris “Birdman” Andersen and Tyler Hansbrough of the Indiana Pacers.

Andersen made contact with Hansbrough in an effort to provoke a fight out of him not once, but twice.  “Birdman” did not get ejected from the game, although such a move was well within the purview of the NBA rulebook.

I’d rather watch a hockey game than the NBA if both sports were on at the same time.  Let’s just say I’ve had a lot of questions over the past few years about the product and how a big city team seems to get the close calls in a game all the time.

No, I’m not trying to be the sports version of Alex Jones here, although I’m probably failing that goal miserably.  Anyone remember Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference final between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings?  The officiating of that game was so bad, Ralph Nader even wrote a letter to NBA grand poobah David Stern.

I enjoyed watching the NBA all these years, but at the rate they are going, the sport of boxing and the entertainment form of wrestling have better smells to them.

The Virgin Mary

The building with the "Virgin Mary" on the windows, Clearwater, Florida, some time ago.
The building with the “Virgin Mary” on the windows, Clearwater, Florida, some time ago.

I lived in Marietta, Georgia for most of 1996, coming back into the Tampa Bay area just before the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was a sad time in my life, as my mom’s boyfriend had committed suicide in Tampa a few weeks before Christmas.

The news broke of the appearance of what many thought was the Virgin Mary at a financial building near the intersection of US 19 and Drew Street on the northeast side of Clearwater.  Like many, I visited and paid my respects, wanting to see the building for myself.

I went on an early afternoon, and news crews were on the scene.  One of the reporters asked me: what do you think it means?

Whether or not my answer was going to be on TV was irrelevant in my mind at the moment.  It was an honest question, it deserved an honest answer.

My reply likely didn’t make for good TV.  I said I didn’t know what the appearance of what looked like the Virgin Mary meant.  It is just one of those things that meant many things to many people.  It meant something to me as a Catholic who rarely goes to church, but what does it mean to a follower of Judaism?  Any other religion?

So I went back home that day feeling a bit more enlightened.  That is until I got back into the heavy traffic on Drew Street heading east and went through my normal motions of life.

The Sloppy Slurpee

It was that time of month again.  Off to the Bank of America on Park Boulevard to pay some bills.

It’s become a tradition of mine that when I go to BOA, I usually also go to the 7-Eleven and make myself one of those ridiculous sugar-coated Slurpees.  I grab the largest cup and let rip with a Coca-Cola concoction.

While I’m pouring, my mind wondered about this and that, and I forgot to mentally mark a point on the cup to stop with the pour.  My mind panicked, sending the command of “STOP!” to my arms and hands.  It looked at first as if I had stopped it in time, but by the time I applied the lid to the slurpee, the frozen liquid was getting on the aluminum table-top above the trash can.

I looked for paper towels, there weren’t any.

So I did what any responsible adult would do.  I held the leaky cup of Slurpee until it was my turn at the register, and alerted to the attendant to what had happened.  I was very thankful she had some paper towel on hand so wrap around the bottom of the cup and to clean up my hands.  I felt like a six year old.  No, strike that…a four year old.  When I was little and I’d get a Slurpee on a Monday afternoon after school, I never made a mess that big.

Maybe I should just stick to Big Gulps.

But when you do something wrong, own your mistake.

The Singing Of Our National Anthem

Whitney Houston sings the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXV, January 27, 1991.
Whitney Houston sings the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXV, January 27, 1991.

Memorial Day weekend has just passed.  Our fallen soldiers have been honored, sporting events were held, people went on vacations.

One thing that drives me crazy in recent years is how our national anthem is being sung.  Now I warn you in advance: some of you are going consider what I have to say nitpicking.  So shall it be.  I’m going to take offense if you feel that way.  I align myself with neither major political party, because neither side is right about everything.  So if you are saying this is a Republican or Democratic diatribe, don’t bother.

But more and more, this old fuddy duddy is noticing more and more how the national anthem is being sung at sporting events.  Like everyone paid not to see the basketball game, hockey game, NASCAR race, etc. but to see so-and-so sing the national anthem.

Mr. or Miss./Mrs. so-and-so often starts out with:

“Oh-ho-ho say can you see-hee-hee…”

And we instantly get to what drives me crazy.  We have singers that love to embellish one syllable words in the national anthem and turn them into multiple syllable words.  “Oh” becomes a three or four syllable word.  The word “wave” often turns into a ten syllable plus monstrosity.

I was at Tampa Stadium that January night in 1991 when the late Whitney Houston turned the nation anthem into a hit record.  All the other artists out there tried to out-Whitney Whitney with their version of the song.  So please, so and so, would you please use the correct number of syllables if you plan to sing the national anthem?  We may as well go back to bands playing the anthem at sporting events at the rate we are going.

Honor your country: sing the anthem the right way.

Whose Order Is This, Anyways?

So last week, I go into the McDonald’s at the Walmart Supercenter off of US 19 not too far from where I live in Pinellas Park after getting a few things.  It was right around dinner time, and I felt a little fast food would do the trick for me.

I was with my mother that day, and she wanted to get a couple of things for her boyfriend to keep him happy.  And here’s where the “fun” started.

The order had four different items on it, and the lady taking my order keeps interrupting me.  She thinks she knows the order I’m trying to place better than I do.  For example, my part of the order was a Big Mac, and order of fries, and a chocolate shake.  And she keeps getting me to choose the Big Mac, fries, and coke as part of one of their combination meals.

I wanted to say to this lady: I’m ordering for three people here, and you’re not helping make this easy.  Have you never heard the phrase the customer is always right?  (Although these days, I think the phrase has changed to: the customer is always punished.)

This lady didn’t really like me all that much, but if so, I really don’t care.  She shouldn’t have cut me off as I was ordering.  I’m trying to generate revenue for her employers, and here she was defeating her own purpose.

From The Vault

Well, look what I found.

Last year, I had done a series of blogs covering my radio career, such as it was.  I recently found an old audio cassette of one of the shows I did back in 1993 with Billy Sebastian on WBDN in Brandon, Florida.

I play the role of guest Walter Pecker.  No, I don’t remember how that moniker came about.  But hey, it’s midnight on a Saturday night, and the two of us just cut back and talk about anything under the sun.

It’s not Hall of Fame material or anything like that, but it’s the only archive of my work that I have archived.

Duck And Cover

A major tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma yesterday afternoon.  So far, the news reports are saying that at least 51 people (as of the time I did this blog) were killed as the funnel sliced through the city, with several children unaccounted for at Plaza Towers Elementary School.

It also reminded me of an event that took place a little over 35 years ago.  On a stormy Thursday in May of 1978, I was a first grader attending Anona Elementary. That afternoon, our principal Salvatore Iannone played an air horn over the loudspeaker system.  Duck and cover time.  Go to your desk and crouch in a way that protects your head.

I would learn coming home that afternoon that a school a few miles east of mine wasn’t so lucky.  High Point Elementary on the southeast side of Clearwater had been struck by an EF-3 tornado.  News stations breathlessly relayed the bad news, with a couple of students reported lost.  It was the first major local news event I could remember, a couple of years before the Sunshine Skyway bridge collapse took place during another May storm.

So yes, the events in Moore brought back some bad memories, and I hope things go as well as they can under such difficult circumstances.

(EDIT, 5/6/2018: The topic came up in the local media recently as the 40th anniversary of tornado passed on May 4th. Three students were killed in those tornadoes, two the day of, one a few days later. Apologies for the error.)

Pauly The Narc

I really don’t like playing the role of the thought police, especially online.  You never know what reprisals lay ahead of you for doing these things.  99 times out of 100, I stay out of conflict.  This must have been the 100th time.

Someone put a meme up on Facebook that had something to do with an event called No Shave November.  This woman with dark hair was sprouting hair in…um… places most women usually shave.  I won’t go any farther in my description.

Seeing this, thoughts of reporting the pic came immediately into mind.  And they say you should always trust your first impulse on something, for it is usually right.

When I opened up Facebook this morning, I got a notification saying the pic had been removed, and thank you for your action.

Why do I feel so empty about it?

Reunion At Tropicana Field

Ladies, if you haven’t seen this yet, get your handkerchiefs ready.

There was a surprise family reunion at Tropicana Field last night that touched many souls here in our area.

I’ll let Tampa Bay Rays reported Todd Kalas (who I had the honor of meeting many years ago at Largo High School when he was covering local high school basketball for the old Vision Cable company back around 1990, very nice guy) fill you in.

Orenthal’s Last Squeeze

Hopefully, this is the last we see of O.J. Simpson.
Hopefully, this is the last we see of O.J. Simpson.

It was early one June week in 1994 when I first heard about O.J. Simpson’s wife being murdered out in Los Angeles, along with a friend of hers by the name of Ron Goldman.  Like many sports fans across the country, I really didn’t think the man we saw on TV during the football season was capable of such a heinous crime.  Then there was that Friday afternoon and evening of June 17th.  The White Ford Bronco going around the interstate highways of Los Angeles.  I wondered, as the whole country did that night, if Simpson’s life was going to conclude right then and there.

I watched that circus of a trial in 1995.  The Los Angeles prosecutors did a great job fouling that up, didn’t they?  Remember where you were when the verdict was read?  I do.  Acquitted in the criminal trial, but held liable in the civil trial, Simpson drifted back into his life, such as it was.

But O.J. couldn’t stay out of trouble, and, much like the villainous Wo Fat in the original Hawaii Five-O, you knew sooner or later he was going to get busted again and for good.  I wasn’t really shocked to see his arrest in Las Vegas in 2007 for armed robbery, nor his conviction of same a year later.

Now he says he didn’t get a fair chance to tell his side of the story in the 2008 trial, even though he could have easily done so then and there.  If the defendant in a criminal trial wishes to speak, he can do so, even if his attorneys say no. Ultimately, it is his choice.

So O.J. took the stand in a writ of habeus corpus hearing yesterday.  He went on and on about who he knew, pontificating and rambling.  The courtroom in Vegas turned into O.J.’s show.  The networks carried some of it, but I think they too were unimpressed by O.J.’s same old song and dance.

And Mr. Simpson, how’s that search going for Ron and Nicole’s real killers?  I bet that search is long over every time you look in the mirror.

Obama’s Watergate

Over the past few days, the news hasn’t been good if you are the President of these United States.  Two scandals have broken, each likely to damage Barack Obama’s credibility somewhat.

It turns out the Internal Revenue Service has been used as a vehicle to go after Obama’s enemies, including hindering the formation of the conservative Tea Party movement.  On top of that, the Associated Press is crying foul over having their phone records searched through at the request of the Justice Department.

The Republicans are slowly getting to a certain word beginning with I, ending with m-e-n-t.

Fat chance.

If you couldn’t remove a president from office for perjury, even if the perjury was over a sex act, then what hope do we have when a President may or may not have committed real crimes?

Impeaching a president only works if the president’s own party finds the man (or one day, the woman) sitting in the White House is a cancer in their own party.  Absent that, you have no chance of that tactic working ever again, unless Mr. Obama gets fed up and quits.  And right now, I don’t see that happening.