Sunday, February 17, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/16/19: Living in the Past, Crab Feed, Fun at the Lounge

1. Late this afternoon, Stu swung by and picked me we headed up to the Inland Lounge for some pre-function action before the crab feed at the Elks. I hadn't been in the Lounge for a couple of weeks and things weren't too busy, so Cas was able to yak with me and Stu and I got to hear Cas and Stu tell stories about all the fun times I missed around forty years ago because I left the Silver Valley and didn't get to play rec league basketball with Stu, Cas, Don K., Jay H., Jake, Abbie, Gary M., and others. I sat and shook my head, thinking of all the fun and funny times I missed because I decided to study Shakespeare and teach writing and literature in Spokane and Eugene and not live the Valley life. It's sure fun to hear all these stories, but I don't regret the path I charted in my life.

2. Scores and scores of people filed into the seating areas upstairs and downstairs at the Elks and eventually lined up upstairs and Kellogg High School ROTC students served each of us cole slaw, beans, a bread stick, a half a crab, and butter or cocktail sauce. The Elks Club made chicken nuggets available for diners who don't eat crab. I sat with a group of friends with whom I graduated from high school in 1972: Carol Lee, Jake, Ed, Joni, Sue, Valerie, Sharon, and Stu along with other friends and classmates' family members. Once we plunged into our plates of food, ROTC members began to circulate around the room with buckets of half crabs, fulfilling each diner's request for more crab. We could have all the crab we could eat and I don't think the Elks' supply got depleted.

I brought some plastic Yoke's shopping bags and filled three of them with crab shells and put the three plastic bags in a paper bag and left the Elks Crab Feed with a good supply of shells that I will turn into soup stock.

No one at our table won the 50/50 raffle. I tried to win by purchasing a dozen tickets, but, alas, someone upstairs won the 400 bucks.

3. Jake, Carol Lee, Valerie, Joni, Ed and I congregated at the Lounge after the crab feed. To our great delight, Diane T. was there with her daughter, Kelly. Kelly came over to me, gave me a hug, and invited me to the VIP area of the Lounge back by the pool table to greet her father, Ron Romine. Ron's mother, Phoebe, was our junior choir director at church and Ron was one of those older kids at church and on the Kellogg Wildcat basketball team whom I looked up to and never really knew. To my surprise, Ron remembered me -- at least my name -- and we shook hands and talked for a little while. Later, I talked more with Diane and learned more about how her work on her house uptown is coming together, about her sister's purchase of the former Larsen home on Division St., and about the duplex Diane's daughter Kelly bought. It is located right behind Diane's house.

The Lounge was alive with spirited conversations and unrestrained laughter and I almost turned down Jake and Carol Lee's offer of a ride home so I could stay longer. I figured I could find another ride home, or even walk. But, I decided discretion is the better part of partying and went home, happy that Christy had checked in on Maggie and Charly and knowing that they were doing great.

(By the way, this morning I took Maggie to the vet's office to be weighed, as a follow up on her appointment with the vet about a month ago. She'd lost .4 pound -- 20.2 down to 19.8 pounds. I don't know if that's a problem, but I can say Maggie is eating well, has her usual energy, and shows every sign of growing old. Both dogs sleep a lot during the day, but, when they are awake, they are spry.)

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/15/19: Breakfast at Sam's, Cooking Project, Oregon/Oregon State Women's Basketball

1. It's been a rough week for the guys I eat breakfast with on Friday mornings. Their work removing snow from properties up and down the Silver Valley has been intense this week. In fact, only three of us could make it this morning, Ed, Buff, and I. We had plenty to talk about: the snow, the temporary repair of the dip in the freeway between Kellogg and Smelterville, the crab feed this weekend at the Elks, well digging, pickup maintenance and repair, and the pros and cons of ordering pie for breakfast at Sam's -- which none of us has done.

2. I got some simple cooking done today. I had thawed out a small package of ground beef and dreamed up a way of preparing it that I thought I'd enjoy. I sauteed chopped garlic, onion, and celery, added the ground beef, seasoned with Montreal steak seasoning. Once the meat had cooked up, I drained a can of black beans and added them in, seasoned with cumin and oregano. I also cooked a pot of rice and, when done, folded some of it into the beans and ground beef mixture. I imagined this mess would taste good folded in a heated corn tortilla with melted cheese, topped with Frank's RedHot pepper sauce. I was correct.

3.  About midway through the first quarter, I flipped on the University of Oregon's women's basketball team hosting Oregon State in a Civil War battle at the Matthew Knight Arena (the Matt) in Eugene.

What a night!

The Ducks came into this game the third-ranked team in the nation and the Beavers came in ranked ninth. The Matt was sold out, so this game was played in front of 12,364 fans. I attended quite a few women's basketball games back in the Mac Court days and not one of those games was sold out.  In my imagination, I transported myself from my tv room into the Matt, pretending I was a part of the throbbing enthusiasm I could see on television.

Suddenly I thought: I'll bet Linda and Wayne are in attendance.

I texted Linda at halftime and, sure enough, they were there, with end zone seats. Linda and I texted back and forth about the first half and she texted me a picture of the action from their vantage point. It was thrilling to feel the closest I could to actually being in the Matt.

Oregon State proved to be a fierce opponent, never backing down.  Oregon kept building small leads of four, seven, even nine points thanks to clutch shooting by Sabrina Ionescu and Satou Sabally, strong inside play, both rebounding and scoring, by Ruthy Hebard, and relentless defense in the backcourt by Maite Cazorla. The Beavers kept fighting back and it wasn't until the game's closing minutes that that Ducks' lead grew and they secured a 77-68 victory.

These two teams play each other again on Monday in Corvallis. Oregon State's Gill Coliseum is sold out (9,604 seats). The game will be telecast on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. I'll be tuned in with my text machine in hand, ready to share insights and emotions with Linda. Go Ducks!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/14/19: Pulmonary Clearance, Hazy IPA, Wildcats and Zags Win

1. It's been a snowy week in North Idaho, so I was relieved this morning when I headed out on I-90 that the freeway was clear, bare, and presented no danger. I went to Kootenai Imaging for a CT scan of my chest. Pulmonologist Dr. Robert Scoggins wanted to take a deeper look at the whole of my chest to evaluate the condition of the bronchiectasis he and I talked about eight days ago. Dr. Scoggins liked what he saw in the CT scan. The upper regions of my lungs looked normal and, as expected, there is bronchiectasis in the lower lobes and right middle lobes. The bronchiectasis has been present for a long time, most likely dating back to the infection that resulted when I inhaled all that gas and dust when I had that Zinc Plant accident in 1973. I do not experience recurrent infections nor do I show symptoms of bronchiectasis. Taken together, the scan and my history assured Dr. Scoggins that he could clear me for transplant and wrote a report to Sacred Heart saying just that.

2. When it comes to transplant considerations of any kind, I don't take anything for granted. I think this pulmonary exam is the last thing I need to do before being listed, but I am not assuming that's the case. Until I hear from my nurse coordinator that I've been listed, I will patiently wait and see if I need any more testing, blood work, another conference, or anything else.

Out of relief to have the pulmonary testing completed, I dashed over to Slate Creek Brewing for one pint of Breakside's Kids These Haze, a Hazy IPA. I yakked a little bit with co-owner Danica, but mostly stayed to myself, relaxing, thinking about transplant lists and transplant patients' stories, and hoping for an easy drive back to Kellogg.

3. The drive back to Kellogg was easy. After resting and napping a little bit, I drove up to Kellogg High School to watch some boys basketball. The JV team creamed Priest River by a score so lopsided that the mercy rule went into effect with the start of the fourth quarter.

The varsity also won by a large margin, 72-36. The Wildcats, shuttling about 9-10 players in and out of the game, wore down Priest River by hounding and pressuring the Spartans into numerous turnovers and bad shots and ended up steamrolling the Spartans.  It was Senior night at Andrews Gymnasium and all the members of the senior class who were in band, ROTC, on the cheer squad, or played boys basketball were, along with family members, honored at center court between the junior varsity and varsity games.

I returned home in time to join Christy and Everett for the second half of Gonzaga's 73-60 win over Loyola Marymount, a game that was very close until Gonzaga pulled away in the final five minutes with a 13-2 run.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/13/19: Green Curry, Big East Roundball, A Dark Comedy

1. My spiffed up kitchen didn't stay spiffy for long. I made a delicious batch of Thai green curry sauce, putting a little more paste than usual in the coconut milk along with slightly more aggressive amounts of soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar. I really like the contrasts of saltiness, sweetness, and heat in curry sauce and wanted all of these tastes to be strong. I lamented not having a plug of ginger around, but got over it, and I decided to try something different and plopped a blob of crunchy peanut butter in this sauce. I liked it -- it's something I'd thought of in the past, but hadn't done before. On hand, I had a block of tofu and some cauliflower, so I sauteed the tofu and steamed the cauliflower and enjoyed the green curry over jasmine rice, boiled with a little sesame oil in the water, another delight for me.

2. For a short time about half way through the second half, it looked like Providence might go toe to toe with Villanova, but then Erich Paschall heated up, scoring 20 points in the second half, and with the help of fellow senior Phil Booth, led Villanova on a 23-6 run to end the game. Villanova triumphed, 85-67. Sticking with the Big East, I kept an eye on Seton Hall's 90-75 shredding of Georgetown and marveled at Seton Hall's Myles Powell who racked up 30 points.

3. Before I just got tired and headed to bed, I watched the opening forty minutes or so of Guy Ritchie's East London dark comedy crime movie, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels about a group of hapless friends in hock for a half a million pounds to a ruthless neighborhood crime lord  and who try to devise a way to steal that much money in a week's time. I watched the rigged card game in which Eddy lost the half a million and watched the early stages of Eddy, Soap, Bacon, and Tom planning a heist of their own and I'll return to the movie on Friday and see how it all works out. I won't get to it Thursday with two pulmonary appointments in CdA and with plans to go to Kellogg High School in the evening for Senior Night and watch the Wildcats play Priest River.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/12/19: One Week Eye Exam, Ecstasy and Agony, Albert Finney and Stephen Frears

1. Following standard procedure, I met my appointment today with Dr. Brian Miller at the Kellogg Vision Center. I read letters off of charts, sat in front of contraptions while Dr. Miller examined my right eye, inspected my new lens, and made sure my eye looked all right a week after cataract surgery. Everything looked sound.  I am eager for the surgery on my left eye so that my two improved eyes can begin the process of working cooperatively with each other. Right now, my eyes are at odds with each other and my vision is not quite as good as I trust it soon will be.

2.  Ecstasty. 

Although I never attended a basketball game at the Xfinity Center on the campus of the University of Maryland, watching chunks of Maryland's rousing come from behind 70-56 victory over Purdue late this afternoon made me nostalgic to return to College Park, MD. I loved worshiping at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. After church, most Sundays, I enjoyed walking a very short distance from the church to the Bagel Place for a toasted cinnamon raisin with cream cheese and a cup of coffee. Looking back, I wish I had strolled the Univ. of Maryland campus more often, but I enjoyed the times I went there. Being done with my many many years of teaching college English classes, I know I was creating some distance between myself and the academic world, but toward the end of the 2016-17 school year, I was starting to think it might be time to visit campus more often. At that point in time, I thought I'd be living in Maryland for an indefinite amount of time. But, Mom's condition deteriorated. I left Maryland in June and, by the end of September, had moved back to Kellogg. 

Agony.

Then I watched a full-scale disaster unfold. Pick your metaphor: it was an avalanche, a mammoth dumpster fire, a fifteen car train wreck, a freeway pile up, a bridge collapsing. Playing at home, the Louisville Cardinal dominated the Duke Blue Devils for thirty basketball minutes and led this game by twenty-three points, 59-36, with 9:58 left to play.

Then the gathering snow began to slide down the mountain side; the hazardous materials spontaneously combusted; the Louisville freight train jumped the tracks; one Louisville car smashed into another on the interstate; the supports gave way and the Louisville bridge collapsed into the Ohio River.

In this game's miserable last 9:58, Louisville committed multiple turnovers and misfired a series of often ill-advised jump shots. Duke pounced. They scored easy baskets off the turnovers. They seemed to rebound every Louisville miss. Duke put on a full court press. Louisville panicked. When not scoring easy baskets on breakaways, Duke's shots from beyond the three point line began to drop.

Duke rallied to a miraculous 71-69 win. Duke outscored Louisville 35-10 in the game's last 9:58.

By game's end, the once boisterous, ecstatic Yum Center was a morgue.

This game was an agonizing college basketball disaster (well, unless you're a Duke fan.)

3.  After the Louisville/Duke game, I sought out a change of pace, something to get my mind off the miserable disintegration I'd just witnessed.

Maybe, I thought, another Albert Finney movie would lift my spirits.

Upon Albert Finney's death, Russell had mentioned that he might watch Gumshoe again. I'd never heard of Gumshoe, so, last week, I looked into the movie's history and, to my delight, I discovered it not only starred Albert Finney, but that it was the first full-length movie directed by one of my favorites, Stephen Frears (My Beautiful Laundrette, The Grifters, Prick Up Your Ears, Dirty Pretty Things, The Queen, Philomena and so many more movies).

So I retrieved Gumshoe from Amazon Prime Video and it succeeded in delivering me in every way far from that disastrous loss I'd just watched Louisville suffer.

Albert Finney plays a rudderless guy, Eddie Ginley, who lives in Liverpool. He's barely employed, working at a local nightclub as an MC, bingo caller, and occasional stand-up comic. He fills the vacancies in his life reading stories by detective writers like Dashiell Hammett (and I assume going to movies) and goes about town imitating Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade. On his birthday, Eddie advertises himself as a private detective in the local newspaper.  Almost immediately, he gets a call, accepts a job, and, soon, he's up to his neck in a case involving guns, murder, kidnapping, drugs, money, and other surprises.

I'll leave it at that. I don't want to spoil the intricacies of this story nor do I want to reveal what we learn about Eddie Ginley by the movie's end.

The movie's script is loaded with crisp, hard-boiled dialogue. The movie is, I think, simultaneously a parody and not a parody. I won't explain what I mean for fear of revealing too much, but if you ever see this movie and want to have some conversation about, I'm game -- and will likely have watched this movie again. I'd like to go back and see what I missed on my first viewing.






Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/11/19: Em at Reno, Clash of Wills, Exposure in *The Dresser*

1. Through newspaper articles I found online and through a story from Don K. that I'd also heard at Corby's a few weeks ago from Jake, it's confirmed that our former basketball coach, Em, worked on Jim Padgett's coaching staff at what was then called the University of Nevada at Reno after he left Kellogg. Some of us have faint memories of Em saying that he played basketball in California out of high school. At the time Em graduated from high school, Jim Padgett coached the men's basketball team at San Jose City College. Now I'd love to find documentation that confirms my speculation that Em played at San Jose City College for Padgett and then transferred to the University of Idaho. I'm not sure this documentation exists online, but I will keep clicking around.

2. With the weather so cold, I stayed close to home today, researching, spiffing up the house, getting laundry done, and writing emails. Seeing the snow was powdery, I decided it would not be too strenuous for me to shovel the sidewalks. (I also think that the amount of time that I am supposed to refrain from exerting myself after cataract surgery is running out.)

By 4:00, I was ready to settle in into the tv room and watch the basketball game I eagerly anticipated all day long between Atlantic Coast Conference titans Virginia and North Carolina. From tipoff to the final buzzer, each team struggled for forty basketball minutes to impose its style of play upon the other. It was a clash of wills.

For much of the game, Virginia had the upper hand, slowing down the pace of the game, playing a suffocating defense, and protecting the ball well enough that North Carolina had few opportunities to turn their greyhounds loose in the open court. But, about six minutes or so into the second half, having been straining in their starts, North Carolina's greyhounds cut loose and began to impose their will on Virginia: they forced Cavalier turnovers (what Jay Bilas calls "live ball turnovers"), began streaking to their basket and scoring lay ups and dunks off of fast breaks. Not only did it look like North Carolina had turned the game around, but, as a fan of Virginia, I feared that a rout might be on.

But, North Carolina's elegant senior guard Cam Johnson stepped on a Virginia player's foot and turned his ankle. He left the game. Suddenly the Tar Heels were without a marksman, an excellent defender, and a mature and calming leader on the floor. Virginia pounced on North Carolina's bad fortune. They exploited Cam Johnson's absence and slashed their way back into the lead. Kyle Guy hit a couple of crippling three point daggers and Virginia's defense clamped down on the Tar Heels.
Virginia escaped the deafening hostility of the Dean Dome with a 69-61 triumph in a game that epitomized the emotion, determination, and skill that so often defines basketball at the college level.

3. On February 7th, Albert Finney died of a chest infection. He was 82 years old.

After the basketball game, I was pondering some things Kathleen H. wrote to me earlier in the day about the parallels between athletic competition and Shakespeare's plays. My thoughts centered on exposure, how Shakespeare's plays so often, in moments of pressure and crisis, expose characters for what they are, in ways that range from generous to narcissistic, from cowardly to heroic; crucial moments in ball games similarly expose the best and worst in players.

Then I thought of Albert Finney and his role as an aged actor ("Sir") touring England during WWII with his ragtag troupe of mostly elderly actors, the young actors having been called to fight the war. It all happens in the 1983 movie, The Dresser.

The Dresser zeroes in on the run up to and the performance and aftermath of Sir's 227th playing of the role of King Lear. While the movie gives us bits of Sir's work in the play on the stage, the movie focuses much more on Sir off stage and his relationship with his dresser, Norman (Tom Courtenay).

And it's off stage where, like Shakespeare's King Lear, Sir's inward life is laid bare, is exposed. Just as King Lear rages at the pitiless storm and the pelting rain that comes to represent to him the injustices of life, those he's suffered as well as the ones he's engendered, and makes external the tempest in his mind and soul, for Sir, the bombs raining upon England come to embody all that is exhausting him and driving him mad.  Performing demanding roles night after night in town after town, knowing that the theater where he made his debut in Plymouth has been bombed, fighting the barbarism of the bombing by performing the civilizing and (he hopes) comforting beauty of Shakespeare's poetry and drama, and suffering the early onset of some kind of dementia which tortures him with nightmares in his sleep and dark visions when awake have combined to strip Sir of his defenses and exposes him, as the movie develops, as a complicated and difficult man:  tender, cruel, lecherous, loving, vain, sentimental, ungrateful, erudite, brittle, bombastic, defiant, indomitable, and defeated.

I loved watching this movie again. In my reflections, I've short-changed the movie because Sir is not the title character. Norman, the dresser, is. If one sees the movie as a story about him, it opens up a whole other discussion of what this crisis in Sir's life exposes in Norman.

For now, I'll let those thoughts marinate.



Monday, February 11, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/10/19: No Drive to CdA, Researching Em, Family Dinner

1. I'd just rather not go out when the temperatures are in the single digits and the wind chill is even lower. When I decided in January that I would drive to St. Luke's in CdA on Sunday mornings to worship, I also decided that if the weather was nasty and the driving conditions uncertain, I'd stay home. It's disappointing to me that it looks like snow is forecast for the rest of February. Next Sunday, I hope I'll feel more at ease about driving over the 4th of July Pass. I'll be giving it a trial run on Thursday when I drive to CdA for a CT scan and a visit with Dr. Scoggins. I missed being enveloped by the poetry of the liturgy this morning, missed being in tangible fellowship with other members of the mystical Body of Christ, praying together, singing together, listening together, passing the peace to one another, and ingesting together the elements and the mysteries of the Holy Communion.

2. Stu and I, for no real reason beyond curiosity, are trying to piece together the biography of our basketball coach from our senior year in high school, Bob Emehiser. A couple weeks ago, or so, a friend raised a question about Emehiser playing basketball collegiately and today I scoured digital copies of about four editions of the University of Idaho yearbook, The Gem of the Mountains. In the 1964 edition, Emehiser is pictured as a member of the U of I varsity basketball team and his picture says he is a junior. But, in the 1965 edition, a year later, Emehiser's portrait appears in the section of the yearbook devoted to juniors and, in 1966, the section devoted to seniors.

To review, Emehiser appears in three U of I yearbooks, as follows:

1964: pictured in the varsity basketball section as a junior (he played in 10 games and, according the previous and subsequent yearbooks, wasn't on any other Idaho Vandal basketball team, not the varsity or the freshman team)

1965: cited once again as a junior, this time in the section of pictures in the junior class section

1966: cited as a senior in the section of pictures in the senior class section

There is no mention of Emehiser in the 1963 yearbook. I think I'll take a peek at the 1962.

We are trying to figure out when he graduated from Coeur d'Alene High School. We have been scouring basketball box scores in the online archives of the two Spokane newspapers. The archives are incomplete and the newspapers didn't always publish box scores for high school games. But neither of us has found his name listed as having scored in the box scores we have found for CHS games when we thought he would have been on the Coeur d'Alene team.

We are also trying to figure out if he played at San Jose City College after high school since Jim Padgett coached SJCC and Emehiser was later an assistant coach with Padgett and Nevada Reno.

This is, of course, inconsequential. Nothing but the satisfaction of our curiosity is at stake here. We are trying to square things we thought we used to hear about our coach's playing, later coaching, days with what the documents tell us.

I am convinced if I went to a museum or a library that holds the archives of the Coeur d'Alene or Moscow daily newspapers or if I were to explore the archives of the U of I student newspaper, The Argonaut, I might get some answers. I haven't found the online archive of The Argonaut very helpful, but I think I'll return to it again and see if I just haven't been skilled in how to retrieve information from it.

If any of my friends reading this remember Bob Emehiser playing at CdA, know when he graduated, can direct me to online sources I haven't tapped, or to other places I might go to unearth other information, let me know.

My next move will be, one day, to leave the house and go to brick and mortar places in CdA (or maybe, one day, Moscow) to search archived newspapers. (I used to dive into the microfilmed archives of Oregon newspapers at the U of O looking for information about the past and it was a blast.)

3. Tonight Carol and Paul hosted family dinner. We all sat down at the table handsomely decorated in anticipation of Valentine's Day. Carol made hot drinks for cocktails using apple brandy and served the drinks with stuffed mushrooms. We then enjoyed a green salad, hot chicken wings, herbed drumsticks, and lemony broccoli. It was a perfect dinner: simple and satisfying. I must be getting old in that I had trouble sometimes tracking the sudden changes in topics of our table talk, but Christy and Carol helped me out, often providing background about people they mentioned, but whom I knew nothing about. We talked about girls' athletics in the 70s, the difficulties our family has had over the years navigating the streets of Pinehurst, plumbing, basketball coaches over the years at KHS, and the mind boggling subject of past Silver Valley marriages, who brought what children into the world, what children were imported into what new marriages, and what's going on with all these interconnected people now. I spent much of this conversation bewildered. I've been away from Kellogg too long to follow these threads without confusion and maybe even a slight headache!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/09/19: Freezing Cold, Bare-Knuckled Basketball, Marquette Squeaks by Nova; Duke and Zags Don't Squeak

1. We aren't in the midst of a deep freeze here in Kellogg, but it's a freeze. The flag across the street flapped much of the day. Temperatures hovered between about 8-12 degrees F, but with the wind chill factored in, it was a about ten degrees colder. It was one of those days when the elderly and those with breathing problems are advised to stay indoors. That's what I did. I drank hot coffee and tea, ate hot soup, nursed this fairly minor cold I've had for several days, and made myself very happy watching NCAA college basketball.

2. When play between poker players gets intense on the World Poker Tour, commentator Mike Sexton likes to say the competitors are "bare-knuckled in the center of the ring", an allusion to when boxers dueled without gloves on, once common, now rare.

Mike Sexton's metaphor was an apt one for today's basketball clash in Ann Arbor between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Michigan Wolverines. The referees gave the players room to bang on each other, play physical defense, and didn't impede the flow of the game by calling inconsequential physical contact between players. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, even with the looser officiating, their brilliant low post player, Ethan Happ, was whistled for his third foul early in the second half and had to take an extended and involuntary sabbatical and, when he returned to the game, was unable to dazzle the Wolverines with his interior spin moves and acrobatic shots the way he had in the first half. Having to ride the pine dislodged his equilibrium and disrupted his rhythm.

But, Michigan's low post giant, Happ's counterpart, Jon Teske, turned in a superb performance and, in the second stanza, Charles Matthews awakened from hibernation and poured in sixteen second half points.  Michigan won this bruising contest, 61-52.

After the game, Ethan Happ, looking ahead, I imagine, to the season ending Big Ten Conference tournament said to Michigan coach John Beilein, "I hope to see you again this season" and Coach Beilein quipped back, "No Ethan. I don't want to see you again the rest of my life."

I'm sure every Wisconsin opponent agrees with Coach Beilein.

3. Against Marquette in Milwaukee this afternoon, Villanova, a team that normally feasts on scoring from beyond the three point arc, starved themselves from out there today. Shots clanked, rimmed out, fell short, and caromed wildly off the iron and it looked like Villanova's undefeated conference record was in jeopardy. Marquette marksman Markus Howard and his backcourt running mate, Sacar Anim, dropped shots from outside, inside, and mid-range. But, Villanova gathered itself and staged a comeback as senior guard Phil Booth took over the late stages of the game with a string of timely baskets. Down a point with 14 seconds remaining, Villanova put the game's outcome in Phil Booth's hands. It looked like he had a clear lane to the basket with about four seconds left, but that lane got cut off by Marquette's Ed Morrow and, uncharacteristically, the usually cool Phil Booth seemed disoriented, got trapped under the basket, desperately heaved the ball to Jermaine Samuels who hoisted up a wild off-balance line drive that never had a prayer and Marquette won 66-65. Its boisterous fans went bonkers.

Later in the afternoon, Duke went bonkers, draining three point shot after three point shot -- the supposed weakness of their offense -- and vanquished Virginia, 81-71.

In the evening, I went over to Christy and Everett's for a bowl of hearty and delicious beef barley soup and watched Gonzaga make their longtime West Coast Conference rival, the St. Mary's Gaels, look like the St. Maries Lumberjacks of Idaho's high school 2A Central Idaho Conference. The Zags blasted to a thirty-three point halftime lead and humiliated the Gaels by a final score of 94-46.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/08/19: Frigid, Cravings and Chicken Soup, Kurt Wallander and King Lear

1. It looks like we are going to be locked into a frigid, sometimes snowy, certainly gray weather pattern this month. Today, as the snow piled up slowly and the wind whipped the flag in front of the church across the street, I faced the elements long enough to join my friends for breakfast at Sam's and, later in the morning, shopped at Yoke's.

2. This cold I contracted on Monday didn't get worse, but it persisted, and I fed it, temporarily setting aside my renal friendly diet. I craved potatoes and I craved chicken soup. I didn't buy any potatoes, but, for the first time in many weeks, I ordered hash browns at Sam's. I bought a package of chicken thighs and legs at Yoke's and made chicken soup, using turkey stock I had made back at Thanksgiving time. I had made some of this stock especially peppery. I got it in my head years ago that increased pepper and pepper sauce helps me fight colds, so my soup is a little more peppery than usual and I put plenty of Tabasco sauce on my hash browns. I boiled some rotini and added it to the soup. I craved pasta, too.

3.  As I grow older, I realize how tempting it is to be like Shakespeare's King Lear. Speaking of himself in the royal or plural third person, among the first things he says upon appearing in Act I is that he wants to "shake all cares and business from our age" and "Unburden'd crawl toward death". King Lear will soon experience the opposite of this. At the age of 80, he will soon experience not an unburdened crawl toward death, but profound suffering brought on by the betrayal of two of his daughters, his misplaced rage toward the daughter who can be trusted, and the slow and steady loss of the remnants of the royal privileges he sought to hang on to.

King Lear's plight came to mind tonight as I watched the final episode of the British detective series, Wallander. It's not that Kurt Wallander ever expressed a desire to "unburdened crawl toward death", but when he learns that, like his father, he his suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's disease, he realizes, in effect, that he's been condemned to a burdened, a difficult, a disoriented, and a ravishing crawl toward death.

While I found the case Kurt Wallander worked on in this episode intriguing, the scene that will live with me for a long time occurred in an open field behind Wallander's residence. Unlike King Lear in the play's heath scene, Kurt Wallander was not being pelted by a merciless rain storm. Otherwise, it was Wallander's very own heath scene. It opens with a view of Kurt Wallander from a long distance away. His human figure is tiny. The space around him is expansive, as if he were, in the grand scheme of things, a speck, a barely noticeable being engulfed by the uncaring spaciousness of an empty life surrounding him.

This scene unfolds through Wallander's daughter Linda's eyes. She has come out into the field to check on her father's welfare. Wallander is confronting the injustice of his existence, tearing at his clothes, stripping himself, in much the same way King Lear begins to disrobe, telling himself "To expose thyself to feel what wretches feel". Wallander's peeling off his own clothes is not in order to connect with the neglected, but is more of figuratively exposing himself to the random cruelty that life, via Alzheimer's disease, has imposed on him and his father.

Wallander looks at Linda. He's dislocated, disoriented, mad with frustration and cries, heartbreakingly, "Are you my daughter?"

It's a question lifted from King Lear.


I've been watching Kenneth Branagh's work for thirty years, starting with his movie version of Henry V. This was as arresting and moving and painful of a scene as I've ever seen him perform. I wondered if it might be a foretaste of him playing the role of King Lear some time in the next ten years as he crawls burdened into his late fifties and on into his sixties.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 02/07/19: Comforts of Home, J. S. Bach Day, Pasties and Zags

1.  I picked up a bug on Monday and am now doing all I can to get over a cold. It was a relief today to stay home and not have any medical appointments to meet. I took care of nuts and bolts stuff: dishes, bills, updating my calendar, blowing my nose, making new appointments at the Lung and Asthma center, writing some emails. I nodded off from time to time. I drank a lot of water and black tea. I hope to shake off this cold soon.

2. I put a J. S. Bach shuffle on the Echo Dot and everything I did today was made more pleasant by Bach concertos, cello suites, preludes, fugues, variations on themes (like the Goldberg Variations), and some choral music.

3. Just before six, I braved the frigid weather and walked next door to join Christy and Everett for a dinner of pasties, peppery green beans, and a chopped salad. As we finished eating our delicious dinner, the basketball game between Gonzaga and Univ. of San Francisco came on. The two teams had played a fairly tight game last month, but tonight the Zags were more explosive and crushed the Dons, 92-62.