Monday, March 31, 2008

Just Because it's Basketball Season

If only he'd been just a bad boy off the NBA court, he'd be remembered as a great basketball player with two championships under his belt. On the court you loved him. He brought excitement, energy and total competition to the game. He could shoot the 3 pointer with a soft stroke and his defense was game altering. He once held Michael Jordan to 9 points total in a game. If you weren't around to see his act then you missed seeing a player who comes along once in an era. He was electrifying, he was tenacious and did I mention..........He Was in 51/50 MAD.

Vernon Maxwell, better known as Mad Max, played basketball in the NBA throughout the 90's and gave us fans one heck of a show. Love him or hate him you knew Mad Max would do something to make the game exciting. He was a great basketball player, but was also a walking time bomb on and off the court. He went into the stands to attack heckling fans long before Ron Artest was in the league. Maxwell just simply didn't have that filter in him to control his emotions. He didn't just wear his emotions on his sleeves, he came out swinging, cursing and spitting with them. Yeah, he spat into the stands too, a la Bill Romanowski. The moniker Mad Max fit him better than actor Mel Gibson who played the character in the movie. I suppose you could say he was the bad athlete of the future.

By the time he left the NBA in 2001 his personal life was in shambles. The sad thing is because Mad Max was so.......MAD........nobody seemed to be surprised or even care about his troubles off the court. As with most people who show signs of madness (schizophrenia) you remember analyzing the two opposite sides of them. Mad Max had a warm charm about him when all was well. He seemed to gel well with his teamates, well enough to win championships. But when his alter ego arose and his, for lack of a better fitting word, MAD button was pushed he went into MAX mode and was a monster. In MAX mode he could help his team take over a game and win, but if winning was out of reach it seemed all that pent up energy went into negative eruptive actions.

I'd like to remember the Mad Max who played good ball while keeping his emotions in check. As for that other side of Max, I hope he's found help for taming the monster inside. And it was a monster inside no doubt.

I went searching for a "Where is he now?" story on Mad Max and found nothing current. Figured he must be in jail or hopefully in rehab. Here are two write-ups that highlighted some of Mad Max's actions on and off the court:

Story #1

Story #2

Story #3

Story #4

9/8/2008-715PM Oakland,California


The Oakland Raiders open the regular season in prime time for the third time in the past four seasons when The Team of the Decades hosts the Denver Broncos on Monday night, September 8, on ESPN, the NFL announced today.

Only 5 months and counting.
I Predict a Sellout.
I Expect a Win.
I Already Smell the Blood!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Scary News Reporting

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and happen to read the local SF Chronicle Newspaper, add a little horror to your mornings by reading the section titled Earthweek: A Diary of the Planet.

Now I'm a man who gobbles down horror for breakfast. Though as I get older I like gentler non-abusive news stories, but give me a headline that reads Man Attacked by Alligator, Tiger Attack or Severed Finger Found in Chili, and I'm zoned in reading all the details and spilling coffee on the paper while oogling at the picture.

Reading the Chronicle's Earthweek section is a Horror of a different color. As stated, its a diary of the planet's actions in the past 24 hours and the gossip ain't usually good. As a horror junkie I can handle the man-made type horrors; shootings, plane crashes, oil spills, car crashes and building fires are now just common daily news. These horrors fall under the "Shit Happens" column. Violent crime is just that, violence acted upon one human being by another, actions that can be attributed to emotional, economic or social/domestic disturbances.

But you give me a report on the Antarctic's Wilkins Ice Shelf collapse due to climate change or Rio de Janeiro's state confirmed outbreak of dengue fever being spread by mosquitoes and I get that deer caught in the headlights look.

And never mind the usual roarings of Mother nature in the forms of Volcanic rumblings (Kilauea) in Hawaiia or Earthquake Temblors and Tropical Cyclones in the Orient (China & India), there's a new scientific discovery that sends chills down my spine.

Keep in mind that this Earthweek section gives an icon that relates to whatever happening for that paragraph. For example, the diary entry for Antarctic collapse pictures an iceberg, that for Hawaiian volcanic activity pictures a volcano spewing ash/lava, and so on and so forth.

Well, there's this one icon that when you see it you know its bad news. This icon is a simple picture of a Rat in a circle of green. I assumed the diary entry would be a case of plague or something worse. It was worse. With a heading that reads Rodent Tools the following diary entry makes one wonder:

A highly social, intelligent rodent native to the highlands of Chile has been trained to use a tool and understand its function. Researchers at Japan's Riken Brain Science Institute say they trained six adult degu rodents to use a tiny rake to obtain food at a 75 percent success rate. The findings suggest that many animals could use tools, although such ability may be doubtful for fish.

So me being the horror buff that I am immediately envision a degu rodent being trained to use a small caliber handgun to obtain whatever the trainer needs obtained. Sounds a bit far fetched? What about rodents being trained to carry out terrorist acts? Starting to get a bit scary isn't it. Bet you could train a rodent to pull the pin out of the metal pineapple that's been placed ever so strategically. Or maybe saw through an elevator cable. How about nuclear power plants? Now that's a man-made disaster waiting to happen. Nothing like a trained rodent to squeeze in through the nuclear cooling coils and follow some mad man's trained instructions to the letter.

Remember, the initial report did say Rodent Tools. In other words, some foolish human had to provide the tools and training for the rodent to carry out the mission. And the foolish human experimenting with this is a scientist who'll probably end up with a Nobel prize. This the same Nobel prize award named after the man (Alfred Nobel) who invented dynamite without considering man's violent intentions in its future use. Seems anytime man invents something supposedly for the good, sooner or later it ends up being used for something terribly bad.

So should you ever find yourself in a public place or on some form of public transportation , and you happen to see a furry rat squeezing itself underneath a locked door or cabinet, think about the Earthweek Diary Entry with the heading Rodent Tools. Then start being afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Talk About Classic Hollywood

Talk about Classic Hollywood. The "Dame" above would be a classic whistle getter in any era. But it was the 1940's movie era when her star shined brightest and U.S. soldier's fighting in Europe in World War II couldn't have been more grateful.

Unfortunately for this blonde bombshell who spawned the infamous "peek-a-boo" hair style ( a cascade of golden tresses that obscured one heavy-lidded eye
), her life and career would flame out and end without much fanfare.

Who was she?

Classic Hollywood Actor Richard Widmark

It was actors the likes of Richard Widmark who's craft stood the test of time. For those of us who remember him, his acting and looks left a lasting impression. I was fortunate to grow up in a time with Black & White war movies and Technicolor westerns. A time in which the broadcast of a late night or Sunday afternoon classic movie was a family event. There weren't many channels to choose from and sports on television was seldom shown in the evening. Sunday afternoon television usually had an old war or western movie playing.

My mother enjoyed the classic drama movies and we kids watched what she watched. We got to know the older actors and actresses from my mom's youth. I always mistook Bette Davis and Joan Crawford for one another until I saw them together in " Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," a psychological thriller.

Richard Widmark played many roles where he was cast as a gangster, a soldier/lieutenant or an sheriff/outlaw in westerns. Though I would confuse the names of the many great actors of the day, I always remembered their unique faces. Jimmy Stewart, Henry Ford, Jack Palance, Richard Burton, William Holden and many more.

Richard Widmark had the perfect face for the roles he played. His eyes were dark and piercing, his facial bone structure was skeleton-like and sharp with leathery skin that seemed pulled on as if it were a mask. He seldom smiled and usually had a look of surprise, anger or disappointment, or at least that's how I remember him. You always took his character serious and new that wherever he was trouble or conflict was sure to follow. On the screen he was the long sizzling fuse slowly approaching the powder keg.

A bit of sports trivia about Richard Widmark, he was father-in-law to the late great Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax.

Richard Widmark, Classic Hollywood Actor


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Beat L.A. Beat L.A. Beat L.A.

The Golden State Warriors blow a 26 point lead but find a way to put out the hot L.A. Lakers in Los Angeles this evening. On a night when Dallas Mavericks star player, Dirk Nowitzki, goes down with an ankle injury during a loss to the Spurs, the Warriors find themselves a half game away from tying Dallas for the seventh seed in the West. If the two week projected absence of Dirk is accurate, the Warriors could find themselves going into the playoffs as a number seven or possibly number six seed. And as long as Stephen Jackson continues making back-to-back three pointers in the last minute of games, the Golden State Warriors will continue to scare the teams at the top of the standings.

Jack, say hello to Jack!

Final Score
Warriors 115
Lakers 111

Friday, March 21, 2008

"Ghost" by J.N. Williamson

Book Review


By J.N. Williamson

For a book written in 1984, it sure was a mysterious and interesting read. I found the story excellent. And although I had a hard time with keeping track of the heaven and hell characters, I understood their roles in the story. I may read it again sometime soon just to get a better hold on their intentions and battle, which probably had a much deeper meaning than I found in its ending.

This book had just the right mix of spiritual, racial, gender, love, trust, parenthood, youth, old age, heaven and hell, and of course a Ghost.

I’m sure that someone involved in the movie Ghost, which came out around 1990, must’ve read this book to get their initial idea.

What I found interesting were the relationships of the characters. There’s much conflict and change going on in the families of the White Ghost and the little Black boy who helps the ghost. It takes the love between family members to bring about the success of the story.

To have a ghost narrate to you about what it feels like to be dead does get a bit spooky. The ghost, being a writer in his earth life, has the skill to describe his after death existence in a way the reader finds believable and captivating. Constantly while reading this book I found myself putting my being in the ghost’s position. What if I’d died and had to watch my ex-wife and family move on with their lives without me. The resentments and apologies in you can no longer be shared with your family. You’re cut off from any form of contact. Your anger drives you to haunt the living as you become an introverted unhappy entity without a home and no future to think of. What would you do?

I suppose the isolation is what makes the book so real and scary. Not knowing who’s running the show and after awhile not caring about anything.

To have a child be the hero and savior in this book was perfect. Reminds me of a biblical quote which says “In order to enter the kingdom of heaven we must become as children.” Yes, it took a child to see and do what adults were unable or too busy to even see. And it took a wise old man to help prepare that child for the day when he’d need to use his special gift.

I’m still not sure if the plan was for all of them to end up in heaven or not. Maybe the ghost was resurrected as talked about earlier in the book. If that was the case, then the ghost was the second coming of Christ and his supporting cast were maybe disciples.

The book leaves you with so many thoughts. The one thought that hits me the strongest is that my Mother and other loved ones who’ve passed over most likely visited me before moving on. And I wonder just where that beyond is and what they’re all doing in that far away place. This book also awakens in an individual all the childhood beliefs about death along with some of those young fears. Maybe it took a child’s mind to concoct such a story. Or maybe it just took a real ghost to tell it. I think I’d better read it again and make sure it’s not me who wrote this story.

Not an exciting book and definitely not horror. But a philosophical/metaphysical journey down a mysterious path that we all must take and this one writer found in him to narrate one possibility. I know, it’s a mystery book. What is death and where do we go once we die? What is heaven and hell and who determines our destination?

I almost forgot to mention the humor written effortlessly into this story. The author talks intimately with the reader about his dilemma and if the reader’s mind can respond to the nifty flow of dialogue then the story becomes alive. I really couldn’t put this book down. It was a quick 283 pages that I couldn’t guess what would happen and didn’t want to end. The ending was very mystical and nothing corny at all. It would take Hollywood to screw up this story and make it something of a tear jerker. Fortunately for the movie Ghost, it had a love story, comedy, good special effects and a great soundtrack. Where as this book had a real ghost, a gifted child and a struggle between good and evil. A very good read indeed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

DeAngelo Hall Deal Is Done!

DeAngelo Hall, two-time pro bowler and former cornerback of the Atlanta Falcons, is a Raider. He comes to the Raiders to join Namdi Asougha
in the defensive backfield, making it one hell of a show.

I know we need defensive and offensive linemen, but adding Hall in our defensive backfield is an upgrade of monolithic proportions. Did we really want to see Fabian Washington or Stuert Schweigert caught out of position and unable to make plays for another season? I don't think so. Expect this Dynamic Duo to wreak havoc on opposing quarterback passes. Also, their man coverage shutdown should free up a safety or two for blitz packages. Can't wait to see it Live!

They can say all they want about Al Davis, but when it comes to negotiating with a player to join the Silver and Black, Al gets the damn job done. So what if he gave up our second round pick in this year's draft, "We Got Hall." And its been proven time and again, "Defense Wins Championships."

Welcome To The Oakland Raiders DH.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

$4,300.00/HR. Hookers?

Take My Wife......Please!

Emperor's Club VIP was a high priced escort/prostitution service that catered to wealthy clients. Unbeknownst to it's client's, the Federal Government had been gathering information to bust the club and shut it down. And as with many sting operations, someone who's an upstanding leader or role model gets snagged in the net.

For New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who's allegedly an Emperor's Club regular customer, the snag could cost him his governorship. It could get worse for Big Daddy Spitzer if they find he used State monies for some of those non-civic hanky panky hours.

Now if I were a governor with a sinful habit I'd just legalize the activity throughout my state, make it lawful. Think about it, if Marion Barry had legalized crack in Washington D.C., If Bill Clinton had legalized intern acts of fellatio in the White House, if Jeb Bush had legalized voting poll tampering in Florida. Scratch that last one, Jeb was a man ahead of his time. But you get my drift. If it’s legal it must be ethical and acceptable to others and definitely not investigated.

Unfortunately for Big Daddy Spitzer, the only legal proceeding in his future will most likely be at a congressional hearing. Whatever you do Big Daddy, don't hire Roger Clemens lawyer as your counsel for defense.

On the brighter side Big Daddy, you're a hero to many men who get busted with prostitutes who cost far less than what you paid and have no dental plan. Sometimes it’s the wife who hires investigative reporters (see show Cheaters) and the poor sucker is caught in the act. Looks like Mama Spitzer is still in your corner. You Dah Man!