Monday, April 9


Well, it was an excellent weekend for the connoisseur of pig-headed American We Don't Need to Know Nothingism, one which actually began a couple days early with the Whatever Happened To Name, Rank, and Serial Number? Parade honoring our coalition comrades from the British Isles. This was unfortunately cut short, that is to say before our brave warriors on the stateside front were rewarded with any Anglo-Saxon martyrs and before they could be appraised that the US military Code of Conduct dropped the Name Rank Serial Number business thirty years ago. Which would be two years after the needless sacrifice of fourteen Marines in an effort to rescue the already-released crew of the Mayagüez in an act of political expediency by an unelected President of the United States who now has not just a carrier but a carrier class named after him.

Still, our comrades' sacrifice--72 hours with neither banger nor mash, and the possibility of imminent dental care hanging over their heads--was not entirely in vain, as it gave my local news hairdos an opportunity to try out some Cold War rhetoric most of them were too young to have understood, let alone employed, when it was current. The Marines were now "recanting" the "lies" they had been "forced" to tell, as though there was a fear that someone in the audience might miss how he was supposed to feel about this. I kept waiting for someone to call Ahmadinejad a godless Red, but, again, this all took place before their time and the lingo doesn't come easy. It was the 70s as recreated by people who imagine everybody dressed like Earth Wind and Fire.

(Which reminds me--this is actually not off topic--yesterday the Indy Star ran a blurb about a call for 500 extras for the next Will Ferrell howler, which concluded:
"Just normal people who want to come and work with us and dress in 1970s costumes, or wear a wig and sideburns."

which can be overlooked in the same spirit we've overlooked the rack-like stretching the term "film comedy" has undergone in recent years. Showing what a crowd might actually look and dress like in them days, this side of Woodstock, that is, would risk sending today's moviegoing audience into a maelstrom of anachronistic confusion it might never recover from. But the premise:
Crews plan location shots in the last week of April and the first week of May for "Semi-Pro," which stars Ferrell as a player, coach and owner of a Flint, Mich.-based team in the 1970s American Basketball Association who is trying to get into the NBA.

Is a friggin' insult. The ABA of the 1970s--the league of Dr. J, George McGinnis, Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel, Rick Berry, George Gervin, Billy Cunningham, Roger "the Rajah" Brown, Moses Malone, Connie Hawkins, Mel Daniels, and Bad News Barnes, off the top of my head--inferior? The only reason someone would have wanted to "get into" the NBA would have been money, and money is the reason all of the above played with the red, white, and blue ball [excepting Roger Brown, who was banned from the other league]. Say it again: it cannot possibly be any tougher to write a script which conforms to the reality. Go ahead and wring another four ounces of hilarity out of enormous Afros and tiny short-shorts, but there's no call to disrespect the most entertaining professional sports league of all time.)

Real sports--though we use the term advisedly--figured, one way or another, in the weekend's activities. It was good to see one-time African American Tiger Woods come roaring back to lose at the Exalted Outdoor Temple of American Bigotry in Augusta, GA. It's also nice to be reminded annually that there's something called the Eisenhower Tree at the 17th, since just like Little Rock Ike was forced to play it despite his real feelings. Tiger, of course, is famous for confronting the long-standing racism in golf whenever and wherever Nike paid him to do so, and for saying of Augusta National's "once"-racist and still sexist policies, "There's nothing I can do about it." One hopes this will be carved on his memorial when the time comes. In fact, since Woods was born on December 30 it should be possible to combine his birthday with Dr. King's the way we have Washington's and Lincoln's, thus leavening King's unpleasant aggressiveness. I'm guessing this one'd be a lot easier to pass in Arizona.

NASCAR, which races on three-dozen Sabbaths a year, takes Holy Week off, which always adds a touch of solemnity to the proceedings for me.

I doubt much of the "stock" car fan base used the time after church to read Russell Shorto's cover story on Pope Ratsky-Watsky in the Times Magazine. I did, and regretted it less than halfway in, as I'd already absorbed the empty calories from six or eight cups of coffee before I sat down. The tag line on the cover was, "Can Pope Benedict XVI re-Christianize Europe?" which, in a way, was helpful, because I can never remember if he's Benedict X, or XL, or XXL, but it would have saved me some time if Shorto had reduced his 8300 words to a single No and been done with it. Just because the Catholic Church isn't the province of mouth-breathing, cherry-picked literalism, just because during its period of European hegemony it was able to append itself in the popular imagination with the great philosophical tradition of Ancient Greece, which it otherwise has nothing in common with, just because there is a great intellectual tradition within the Church itself, that does not make it a friend of Reason. Easter is not an excuse to pretend otherwise, not that much of an excuse seems to be needed (I'm lookin' at you, History Channel). I don't recall Europe being a paradise on earth for much of the laity during Christianity's reign. Europeans--unlike historically-challenged readers this side of the Atlantic--know whom the Church has sided with for the last seventeen centuries at least, and it's not the Poor or the rational.

Which reminds me, I didn't want to leave without mentioning this from The Happy Feminist, again via LGM. which garnered this comment:
Actually, as a Christian I can tell you there are many branches of Evangelical Christianity that teach women's bodies "are not their own" and that means when your husband has the urge as a good Christian wife you will see to your husbands needs and not be so "selfish" as to not put his needs over anything you happen to be feeling at the time. Fortunately, my Christian husband takes his role seriously in loving me as Christ loved the church and is considerate of my feelings in all matters. There is a huge emphasis in Evangelical circles right now for women to be "Biblical Women" unfortunately it's creating these monster men who think they have the right to dictate what their woman wears, thinks, and does in every aspect.

Posted by: Mary

Y'know, I'm hard-pressed to think of what Rationalism does that requires a good dose of that sort of thing as a corrective.


Anonymous said...

I too was glad to see Tiger get beaten at Augusta, but I changed my mind when Zach Johnson credited Jesus for the win. Even if Jesus existed and lived on now in the sky and wanted people to devote their lives to him until he welcomed them into heaven, it's hard to imagine he would give a rat's ass who won the Masters.

Anonymous said...

And speaking as a transplant here in Ioway, this cheery "Thanks for those putts, Jesus!" was followed immediately by the parade of obese xians into the Wells Fargo Arena. All of which made for a rather sucky ending to things for me.

Anonymous said...

Would Jesus even want Johnson's sorry ass playing on the holiest day in the Christian calendar and at Augusta to boot?

Anonymous said...

Isn't the Son of God pretty damned busy on Easter Sunday? You know, too busy to be controlling the trajectory of Zach Johnson's little dimpled ball(s)?

Anonymous said...

Hi -- saw your notes about the original Amercan Basketball Association and appreciated them in that the ABA deserves respect from all true basketball fans. As to the movie, SEMI-PRO, I guess we'll have to see it to know for sure if it crosses any lines of respect. Hopefully it will just have some fun with what was certainly a fun-filled part of hoops history. One positive sign is that Artis Gilmore, George Gervin and James Silas have filmed a cameo appearance and, presumably, concluded that the movie is being created in a good spirit. On the subject of Artis Gilmore, here is a reminder to readers as to why the A-Train is WAY overdue for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame:


• Led Jacksonville University to the NCAA championship final game vs UCLA in 1970.

• All-time NCAA Division I career rebounding average leader (22.7 rebounds per game)

• NCAA All-Tournament Team (1970)

• One of only eight players in college history to average 20 points and 20 rebounds per game over a career

• NCAA rebounding champion in 1970 and 1971

• National Association of Basketball Coaches All-American Team (1970-1971)

• Number retired in 1992.


• ABA Championship, Kentucky Colonels (1975)

• ABA Most Valuable Player and Rookie, 1971-72

• One of seven unanimous selections to the 1997 ABA
All-Time Team

• Regular season ABA numbers: 22.3 points and 17.1 rebounds. Playoff averages: 22.0 points and 16.1 rebounds.

• Four-time ABA rebounding champion (1972-74, 76)

• Two-time ABA field goal percentage champion (1972-73)

• Two-time ABA shot blocking champion (1972-73)

• 1974 ABA All-Star Game MVP

• 1975 ABA Playoff MVP

• Five-time All-ABA 1st Team selection (1972-76)

• Four-time ABA All-Defensive Team selection (1973-76)

• ABA single-season record for the most blocked shots (422)

• ABA regular season single game record of 40 rebounds versus New York, February 3, 1974

• During a five-year ABA career played in all 420 games.

• Finished in the top 10 in scoring all five seasons.


• Career .599 field-goal percentage - highest in NBA history.

• Four-time NBA field goal percentage champion (1981-84)

• .600 or better field goal percentage in six different seasons,

• Six-time NBA All-Star (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986).

• Regular season NBA numbers: 17.1 points and 10.1 rebounds.

• All-Defensive Second Team (1978)

• Chicago Bulls club record field goal pecentage (.587).

• Led Chicago Bulls in scoring, rebounding, field goal shooting and blocked shots in three consecutive seasons and four overall (1976-78, and 1981).

• Led Chicago Bulls in field goal shooting and blocked shots
in 1980.


• Ranks first in career ABA/NBA regular season field goal percentage (.582); also holds the NBA (.599) and ABA (.558) career records

• 3rd highest shot blocker in pro basketball (ABA/NBA) history (3,178)

• 5th highest rebounder in pro basketball (ABA/NBA) history (16,330)

• 18th of all time pro basketball (ABA/NBA) scorers (24,941)

• One of only 24 players to score a total of 20,000 or more points (ABA and NBA combined).

• Leading left-handed scorer in professional basketball (ABA/NBA) history

• All Star in 11 of 17 years as a pro

• 5th best all-time for pro (ABA/NBA) minutes played (43,836)

• Appeared in 670 consecutive ABA/NBA games

• Ranked in the top ten in rebounding in 12 of 17
ABA/NBA seasons

• Ranked in the top ten in blocked shots in 13 of 17
ABA/NBA seasons

• Ranked in the top ten in field goal percentage in
15 of 17 ABA/NBA seasons


• Made the European All-Star Team playng with Bologna
Arimo (1988-89).


• Named to Sporting News’ Top 50 of the first 50 Years of
the NBA

• Named to Athlon’s Top 50 of the first 50 Years of the NBA

• Top of ESPN’s list of “Players Missing From The Hall Of Fame”

• Kentucky Sports Hall Of Fame (inducted with entire Kentucky
Colonels 1975 ABA championship team in 2005)

• Florida Sports Hall Of Fame (1974).