Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Lost Art of the Point Guard

tuhs_bball.jpg
That’s me on the far right, kneeling, next to our coach, Guru Rajneesh (actually his name was Ross Gentry). This was 11th grade, my third and final year of playing high school ball. (Click photo to enlarge.)

When I go to the YMCA, I sometimes watch the games being played on the two basketball courts. And it maddens me. Because nobody passes. When a guy gets the ball, he dribbles around until he can find space to loft up a shot, which usually misses. They’re all a bunch of gunners. And this is Indiana, where basketball is supposed to be more pure, more fundamental, than elsewhere.

I love seeing good passes. But they don’t exist at the Y.

In my basketball days, I was always a point guard. My greatest delight was the pass, hitting someone when he was open. I didn’t need to score. I loved enabling others to score. That’s what point guards do.

Of course, part of it was just compensating for my weakness, which was shooting. I was always a terrible shooter. If the coach said we could leave practice after making five straight free throws–well get me a pillow, because I’m gonna be here all night.

But I could always pass, and let others do the scoring.

In pickup games, whether in PE or on the court behind our house in Pixley, Calif, where scores of kids came to play, I looked to pass. And sometimes, there would be one guy who knew that, if he got open under the basket, I would get him the ball. And HE would then score. I loved that, watching this guy maneuver and making sure I was in position to dish him the ball.

In pickup games, it’s not especially hard to get open (especially in PE). Nobody guards vigorously. So if you put just a little effort into getting open, it’ll happen. And I would get you the ball somehow.

But at the YMCA, nobody plays to pass. Consequently, nobody tries to get open…because, what’s the point? Everyone knows that the guy with the ball is gonna dribble around and eventually shoot. So everyone else is just a spectator, standing around until he lets fly.

I would not enjoy playing in those games. It drives me nuts just watching.

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The Hurt Locker Vs. Avatar

hurtlocker-avatar250.jpgI don’t have a lot of opinions about the Oscar results, but I was definitely interested in the competition between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, which are the only two contending films I saw.

Some people may draw comparisons to the year when Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture. I never saw Shakespeare in Love, and it seems to have been forgotten, but Saving Private Ryan will always remain as one of the best war movies ever.

The Hurt Locker was a small movie, compared to Avatar. But I’m totally okay with it winning Best Picture. It was a truly memorable movie.

A number of scenes from The Hurt Locker are etched in my memory:

  • The creepy Iraqi with the videocamera filming while they were trying to defuse a car bomb.
  • The sniper scene out in the desert.
  • The attempt to defuse the bomb padlocked around a guy.
  • Jeremy Renner’s character standing in a street and pulling up a whole circle of bombs, with a creepy (I’ve used that word again) man of uncertain motives watching through a window and finally slinking away.

I tell people I felt dusty after watching the movie. I’ve not been to Iraq, but I felt like I was there.

hurtlockerproducer250.jpg(Speaking of creepy: what’s with that Hurt Locker producer jerking Kathryn Bigelow around by her arm? A ground-breaking moment for women, in that a woman wins Best Director, but you see this guy directing her around like she’s a child.)

Then there’s the Avatar juggernaut, biggest blockbuster in history. It didn’t affect me emotionally like The Hurt Locker, but the innovation was, ahem, out of this world. I’m sure it broke new ground in movie-making. I can’t come within lightyears of comprehending James Cameron’s vision and thought processes for that movie. Avatar was truly a masterwork of directing.

So here’s what I would like to have seen:

  • Give Best Picture to The Hurt Locker.
  • Give Best Director to James Cameron.
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A Conservative’s Unease with Glenn Beck

glennbeck150.jpgCharles Murray of the conservative American Enterprise Institute writes in his column “The Unbearable Paradox of Glenn Beck” that he agrees with Glenn Beck 95% of the time on substantive issues. “The man is a gifted communicator. His style doesn’t happen to be one I like, but many times I’ve sat there on my sofa wishing I could make the same point as effectively.”

But he doesn’t like Beck’s style, and doesn’t find him trustworthy. “I don’t really want to shut him up. I want him to change.”

Murray, a thoughtful guy, wants intellectual honesty. He continues:

Beck uses tactics that include tiny snippets of film as proof of a person’s worldview, guilt by association, insinuation, and occasionally outright goofs….To put it another way, I as a viewer have no way to judge whether Beck is right. I have to trust that the snippets are not taken out of context, that the dubious association between A and B actually has evidence to support it, and that his numbers are accurate. It is impossible to have that trust….

What Beck does is propaganda. Maybe propaganda has its place, but let’s not kid ourselves. Glenn Beck and Keith Olberman are brothers.

In another column, “Is Glenn Beck Our Friend,” Murray writes:

My reader–the one I’m talking to with every sentence–is a bright, reasonable person who doesn’t agree with me but comes to my text ready to give me a shot. My task is to get this reader to stick with me as we work through difficult questions. If I take a cheap shot at his point of view, I’m going to lose him. If I duck an obvious objection to the argument I’m making, I’m going to lose him.

We are indeed engaged in a battle for America’s soul, but the way that battle is conducted makes a big difference….Our job is to engage in a debate on great issues and make converts to our point of view. The key word is converts–referring to people who didn’t start out agreeing with us. We shouldn’t be civil and reasonable just because we want to be nice guys. It is the only option we’ve got if we want to succeed instead of just posture. The Glenn Becks of the world posture, and make our work harder.

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No More Excuses

I picked this out of an email someone sent me.

Noah drank too much
Abraham had no idea where he was going
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Daniel was thrown to the lions
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was stubborn
Timothy had an ulcer….
AND Lazarus was dead!

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