Saturday, March 31, 2012

free basketball reading: episode eleven

in episode eleven I corral a few thoughts from former Ohio State, former Cleveland Cavaliers big man Luke Witte who, while playing for the Buckeyes in 1971, helped his team defeat the previously unbeaten Marquette Warriors to move to the NCAA's Elite Eight, and who, in 1972, was caught in the unfortunate center of one of college basketball's most disgraceful moments.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

free basketball reading: episode eight

and from Texas (or Indiana) over to Louisiana.


definitely Louisiana.

unless you're looking to cast Miami or Argentina in a supporting role.

but today we talk to former March Madness hero for those Bengal Tigers from Baton Rouge (and current LSU color commentator) Ricky Blanton.

Monday, March 26, 2012

free basketball reading: episode seven

this afternoon we move from Iowa to Indiana.

or maybe it's down to Texas.

in any case, my interview with former center for Indiana University, the Dallas Mavericks, the Golden State Warriors, the San Antonio Spurs and the German Olympic team Uwe Blab, published on the occasion of his 50th birthday, is now up at Deadspin.

free basketball reading: episode six

the third and final installment of interviews with former 1969 Drake Bulldogs who lost to the seemingly always and forever national champion UCLA Bruins in that year's semi-finals by a mere three points: Tell Me When It's Over: Rick Wanamaker, The Backup Who Blocked Lew Alcindor’s Shot In The 1969 Final Four is up at Deadspin

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

free basketball reading: episode four

you've got to love the Drake (part one) . . .

but episode four overall (and we've still got a ways to go yet), Tell Me When It's Over: former Drake and Utah Stars star Willie Wise, is the most recent edition at Deadspin.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

the last book I ever read (Cat's Cradle, excerpt five)

from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle:

I saw that the planes would be coming in low, below the footings of the castle, and that I would miss the show. But nausea made me incurious. I turned my head in the direction of their now snarling approach. Just as their guns began to hammer, one plane, the one that had been trailing smoke, suddenly appeared, belly up, in flames.

It dropped from my line of sight again and crashed at once into the cliff below the castle. Its bombs and fuel exploded.

The surviving planes went booming on, their racket thinning down to a mosquito hum.

And then there was the sound of a rockslide--and one great tower of "Papa's" castle, undermined, crashed down to the sea.

The people on the seaward parapet looked in astonishment at the empty socket where the tower had stood. Then I could hear rockslides of all sizes in a conversation that was almost orchestral.

The conversation went very fast, and new voices entered in. They were the voices of the castle's timbers lamenting that their burdens were becoming too great.

And then a crack crossed the battlement like lightning, ten feet from my curling toes.

It separated me from my fellow men.

The castle groaned and wept aloud.

The others comprehended their peril. They, along with tons of masonry, were about to lurch out and down. Although the crack was only a foot wide, people began to cross it with heroic leaps.

Only my complacent Mona crossed the crack with a simple step.

The crack gnashed shut; opened wider, leeringly. Still trapped on the canted deathtrap were H. Lowe Crosby and his Hazel and Ambassador Horlick Minton and his Claire.

Philip Castle and Frank and I reached across the abyss to hail the Crosbys to safety. Our arms were now extended imploringly to the Mintons.

Their expressions were bland. I can only guess what was going through their minds. My guess is that they were thinking of dignity, of emotional proportion above all else.

Panic was not their style. I doubt that suicide was their style either. But their good manners killed them, for the doomed crescent of castle now moved away from us like an ocean liner moving away from a dock.

The image of a voyage seems to have occurred to the voyaging Mintons, too, for they waved to us with wan amiability.

They held hands.

They faced the sea.

Out they went; then down they went in a cataclysmic rush, were gone!

Monday, March 19, 2012

free basketball reading: episode three

it's Tar Heel time, a/k/a something to take your mind of Wrist Watch 2012 for at least a little while.

episode three, Tell Me When It's Over: North Carolina National Champ Joe Quigg, is newly posted over at Deadspin.

the last book I ever read (Cat's Cradle, excerpt four)

from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle:

"How do you think the people of San Lorenzo would take to industrialization?" I asked the Castles, father and son.

"The people of San Lorenzo," the father told me, "are interested in only three things: fishing, fornication, and Bokononism."

"Don't you think they could be interested in progress?"

"They've seen some of it. There's only one aspect of progress that really excites them."

"What's that?"

"The electric guitar."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

free basketball reading: episode two

40 games (not counting the NBA, NIT or Women's NCAA tournament) in the past three days and you still haven't had your fill? then check out Tell Me When It's Over: former Siena Saint Marc "Showbiz" Brown over at Deadspin.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

free basketball reading: episode one

in case you haven't had enough of the bouncing orange ball and can't find more prose on either Norfolk State or Lehigh, we humbly offer Tell Me When It's Over: former Kentucky Wildcat Rick Robey at Deadspin.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

the last book I ever read (Cat's Cradle, excerpt three)

from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle:

"I'm thinking of calling a general strike of all writers until mankind finally comes to its senses. Would you support it?"

"Do writers have a right to strike? That would be like the police or the firemen walking out."

"Or the college professors."

"Or the college professors," I agreed. I shook my head. "No, I don't think my conscience would let me support a strike like that. When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed."

"I just can't help thinking what a real shaking up it would give people if, all of a sudden, there were no new books, new plays, new histories, new poems . . ."

"And how proud would you be when people started dying like flies?" I demanded.

"They'd die more like mad dogs, I think--snarling and snapping at each other and biting their own tails."

I turned to Castle the elder. "Sir, how does a man die when he's deprived of the consolations of literature?"

"In one of two ways," he said, "petrescence of the heart or atrophy of the nervous system."

"Neither one very pleasant, I expect," I suggested.

"No," said Castle the elder. "For the love of God, both of you, please keep writing!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

the last book I ever read (Cat's Cradle, excerpt two)

from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle:

The Crosbys didn't know Minton, but they knew his reputation. They were indignant about his appointment as Ambassador. They told me that Minton had once been fired by the State Department for his softness toward communism, and the Communist dupes or worse had had him reinstated.

"Very pleasant little saloon back there," I said to Minton as I sat down.

"Hm?" He and and his wife were still reading the manuscript that lay between them.

"Nice bar back there."

"Good. I'm glad."

The two read on, apparently uninterested in talking to me. And then Minton turned to me suddenly, with a bittersweet smile, and he demanded, "Who was he, anyway?"

"Who was who?"

"The man you were talking to in the bar. We went back there for a drink, and, when we were just outside, we heard you and a man talking. The man was talking very loudly. He said I was a Communist sympathizer."

"A bicycle manufacturer named H. Lowe Crosby," I said. I felt myself reddening.

"I was fired for pessimism. Communism had nothing to do with it."

"I got him fired," said his wife. "The only piece of real evidence produced against him was a letter I wrote to the New York Times from Pakistan."

"What did it say?"

"It said a lot of things," she said, "because I was very upset about how Americans couldn't imagine what it was like to be something else, to be something else and proud of it."

"I see."

"But there was one sentence they kept coming to again and again in the loyalty hearing," sighed Minton. "'Americans,'" he said, quoting his wife's letter to the Times, "'are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be. It must have something to do with the vanished frontier.'"

Monday, March 12, 2012

the last book I ever read (Cat's Cradle, excerpt one)

from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle:

"My God," she said, "are you a Hoosier?"

I admitted I was.

"I'm a Hoosier, too," she crowed. "Nobody has to be ashamed of being a Hoosier."

"I'm not," I said. "I never knew anybody who was."

"Hoosiers do all right. Lowe and I've been around the world twice, and everywhere we went we found Hoosiers in charge of everything."

"That's reassuring."

"You know the manager of that new hotel in Istanbul?"


"He's a Hoosier. And the military-whatever-he-is in Tokyo . . ."

"Attaché," said her husband.

"He's a Hoosier," said Hazel. "And the new Ambassador to Yugoslavia . . ."

"A Hoosier?" I asked.

"Not only him, but the Hollywood Editor of Life magazine, too. And that man in Chile . . ."

"A Hoosier, too?"

"You can't go anywhere a Hoosier hasn't made his mark," she said.

"The man who wrote Ben Hur was a Hoosier."

"And James Whitcomb Riley."

"Are you from Indiana, too?" I asked her husband.

"Nope. I'm a Prairie Stater. 'Land of Lincoln,' as they say."

"As far as that goes," said Hazel triumphantly. "Lincoln was a Hoosier, too. He grew up in Spencer County."

"Sure," I said.

"I don't know what it is about Hoosiers," said Hazel, "but they've sure got something. If somebody was to make a list, they'd be amazed."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

the last book I ever read (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, excerpt five)

from Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater:

"A personal fortune as great as yours, Mr. Buntline," old McAllister went on, those many fateful years ago, "is a miracle, thrilling and rare. You have come by it effortlessly, and so have little opportunity to learn what it is. In order to help you learn something about its miraculousness, I have to offer what is perhaps an insult. Here it is, like it or not: Your fortune is the most important single determinant of what you think of yourself and of what others think of you. Because of the money, you are extraordinary. Without it, for example, you would not now be taking the priceless time of a senior partner in McAllister, Robjent, Reed and McGee.

"If you give away your money, you will become utterly ordinary, unless you happen to be a genius. You aren't a genius, are you, Mr. Buntline?"


"Um. And, genius or not, without money you'll surely be less comfortable and free. Not only that, but you will be volunteering your descendents for the muggy, sorehead way of life peculiar to persons who might have been rich and free, had not a soft-headed ancestor piddled a fortune away.

"Cling to your miracle, Mr. Buntline. Money is dehydrated Utopia. This is a dog's life for almost everybody, as your professors have taken such pains to point out. But, because of your miracle, life for you and yours can be a paradise! Let me see you smile! Let me see that you already understand what they do not teach at Harvard until the junior year: That to be born rich and to stay rich is something less than a felony."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

the last book I ever read (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, excerpt four)

from Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater:

George returned to Rosewater County a blind brevet brigadier. People found him remarkably cheerful. And his cheerfulness did not seem to fade one iota when it was explained to him by bankers and lawyers, who kindly offered to be his eyes, that he didn't own anything any more, that he had signed everything over to Noah. Noah, unfortunately, was not in town to explain things in person to George. Business required that he spend most of his time in Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

"Well," said George, still smiling, smiling, smiling, "as the Bible tells us in no uncertain terms, 'Business is business.'"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

the last book I ever read (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, excerpt three)

from Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater:

"You gave up everything a man is supposed to want, just to help the little people, and the little people know it. God bless you, Mr. Rosewater. Good night."

Monday, March 5, 2012

the last book I ever read (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, excerpt two)

from Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater:

"He could have been Governor of Indiana by lifting an eyebrow, could have been President of the United State, even, at the price of a few beads of sweat. And what is he? I ask you, what is he?"

The Senator coughed again, then answered his own question: "A notary public, friends and neighbors, whose commission is about to expire."

Friday, March 2, 2012

the last book I ever read (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, excerpt one)

from Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater:

When the United States of America, which was was meant to be a Utopia for all, was less than a century old, Noah Rosewater and a few men like him demonstrated the folly of the Founding Fathers in one respect: those sadly recent ancestors had not made it the law of the Utopia that the wealth of each citizen should be limited. This oversight was engendered by a weak-kneed sympathy for those who love expensive things, and by the feeling that the continent was so vast and valuable, and the population so thin and enterprising, that no thief, no matter how fast he stole, could more than mildly inconvenience anyone.

Noah and a few like him perceived that the continent was in fact finite, and that venal office-holders, legislators in particular, could be persuaded to toss up great hunks of it for grabs, and to toss them in such a way as to have them land where Noah and his kind were standing.

Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised a means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang, in the noonday sun.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

the last book I ever read (Slaughterhouse-Five, excerpt five

from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five:

And then Billy traveled in time to when he was sixteen years old, in the waiting room of a doctor. Billy had an infected thumb. There was only one other patient waiting--an old, old man. The old man was in agony because of gas. He farted tremendously, and then he belched.

"Excuse me," he said to Billy. Then he did it again. "Oh God--" he said. "I knew it was going to be bad getting old." He shook his head. "I didn't know it was going to be this bad."