The area that I consider my neighborhood covers about 60 acres — and has 38 basketball hoops.
There are basketball hoops everywhere; some of them the portable type you can wheel around and others set in a footing of concrete next to driveways and along the road. And only very rarely have I ever seen anyone playing basketball.
So yes, I was curious enough about this to go through the neighborhood and count them. In my days as a Times Union blogger, some helpful reader would have inevitably commented, “Don’t you have anything better to do with your time, Madeo?” Well actually, no. No I don’t.
Anyway, we had basketball hoops when I was a kid, but let me tell you, there were a lot fewer — and those we did have were usually attached to the front of a garage, something you rarely see anymore. Maybe because of all the broken garage door windows?
There’s certainly no harm in every kid having his own hoop, but here’s the thing: if there were less of them, maybe our suburban youts would play basketball together more often.
Of course, one could devise an amazing game with so many hoops. Imagine a contest where two teams go on a loop through the neighborhood and stop at each of the 38 basketball hoops. The team in possession of the ball gets to shoot until they make a basket or lose possession — and then it’s a race to the next hoop. By my reckoning, it would be a 1.75 mile course.
It would be a spectacle — but I suppose I’d be satisfied with just seeing a single ball being tossed up at any one of those 38 baskets.
Note: This originally appeared two years ago, but I thought you might enjoy it — and I’m too lazy to write something new.
Back in the TV days, I used to love shooting things at Saratoga. It was a great place to get man on the street sound because everyone was in a good mood and talkative. True, sometimes there might have been a little alcohol involved, but I assure you, only a little.
The best thing about this was you could get people to say pretty much whatever you wanted, which is golden. We’d go back and slam something like this together:
Sometimes people wouldn’t want to talk. Here’s what I heard all the time: “No cameras! My boss might see this and he’ll know I wasn’t really sick today!”
I’d try to explain that it would not actually be on TV for several days and his boss would never know when we taped it. No dice.
Other people at the track had even stronger objections to being videotaped. Years ago a big swrthy fellow approached me at the paddock rail. “Hey, see that table in the tent over there? If you point your f***ing camera at them one more time, I’m gonna come over here and break your arm.”
I looked over to were he was pointing and observed several well coiffed gentlemen wearing sunglasses and smoking cigars. I did not point my f***ing camera at them one more time.
When my father took us to ball games at Shea Stadium we always had pretty good seats, but the ultimate was the time we sat on the press level.
This was before the age of luxury boxes, so the accomodations were not plush, but it certainly felt special. We rode up the elevator and stepped out into and exclusive hidden corridor where we nearly walked right into Mets announcer Lindsey Nelson. I’d have asked for an autograph, but I must have been blinded by his plaid sportcoat.
As it happens, we were not far from the broadcast booth where Nelson and Ralph Kiner sat, so for much of the game I was distracted by what was going on down there with the cameras and all. I’d recently been bitten by the TV bug, so all that was more fascinating than the action on the field.
My father? He was a big fan and religiously kept score in his program. He followed the action with great concentration, and fortunately, always found time to keep me primed with hot dogs and peanuts.
These days there are apps for those who wish to keep score and they tap it out on their phone — but some people still do it the old fashioned way, scratching away with a pencil and program. This from a recent story in the New York Times:
On July 4 at Citi Field, Kevin Hogan, 54, of Richmond, Va., said keeping score by hand “helps fuel my anal retentiveness.” But he also thought the system, venerable as it is, could be better.
“I just asked the vendor, how come there’s no eraser on the pencil?” he said.
The vendor replied, “Don’t make any mistakes.”
I tried keeping score a few times, but it always got in the way of my eating and drinking, so I never made it through an inning or two.
There was something compelling about the widely distributed photo of New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez being led away by police. The picture even spurred an instant internet meme of people Hernandezing, aping the pose on social media.
Then I realized it: the Hernandez photo is oddly similar to many depictions of Saint Sebastian, hands bound, studded with arrows, looking toward heaven.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting Hernandez is any sort of martyr.
The Saint Sebastian pose is often referenced in pop culture, maybe most famously in this Esquire magazine cover from 1968:
Wikipedia does not mention if Saint Sebastian played any sports.
Parents know what it’s like to rush from work to ball games and school events. Maybe you don’t have to be there, but it’s the right thing to do.
I was already destined to be late for a lacrosse game this week because it was all the way in Amsterdam and scheduled to start at 4:30. It didn’t help to get out of work an hour late, but I said I’d be there. After driving like hell to get there, I rolled in with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But my son’s team looked a bit smaller for some reason — and the coach, who can usually be heard from the parking lot, seemed oddly reserved. Maybe some of the kids couldn’t make it. Weird. And did the coach finally give himself laryngitis. Could be.
When the clock wound down and the PA announcer intoned, “And the final score… Amsterdam 6, LaSalle 9.”
Wait… LaSalle? I’m at the wrong game!
I’d been told early that morning that it was in Amsterdam — and don’t you know that Amsterdam’s uniforms are the same purple and gold as our own? It looked like I was in the right place, and I was so blissfully ignorant that I even took some pictures.
- I have no idea who this kid is…
So… eventually I figured out that the game was actually in Schenectady.
The take away here is always check and double check and check again. No big deal, though. I was at somebody’s game, and I guess that’s worth something.
The warmest room in our house is the half bath on the first floor. The heat pours into this closet-sized space like nobody’s business — and even when the rest of the house is freezing, the tiny bathroom is delightful. Could I put a TV in there, maybe?
This has also become our go-to spot for drying gloves, hats, and soaked running shoes, so naturally when my son came home drenched from lacrosse practice, I neatly arranged his gear in front of the heating register.
The next morning I opened the door to stench so horrid I nearly retched. For a second I though maybe one of the cats peed in there — or ALL of the cats – but no, this terrible smell was wafting up from the lacrosse gear.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Under normal circumstances the stuff doesn’t smell great, but it’s acceptable; the application of heat unleashed a monster.
I’ve finally shaken that stink out of my head and learned a valuable lesson about drying athletic equipment: if you put wet, sweaty things in a hot little box don’t be surprised when you open the door.
I remember the afternoon that my freshman football coach, Mr. Redden, yelled at me, “Madeo! Do you want to be a lawyer?” This was after I tried to explain why I’d done something stupid like missing a block or forgetting a play.
To Tom Redden, high school gym teacher and officer in the Marine Reserves, a man who could climb the gym ropes upside down with his feet pointing at the ceiling, this was what lawyers did, stood there and tried to explain doing something stupid. And he didn’t really want to hear it.
But what he said struck a nerve. I stopped by my guidance counsellor’s office and borrowed his copy of the LSAT study guide. For a month or two I browsed through the thick book, trying to work through its complicated logic and reasoning questions. Eventually I kind of forgot about it.
The truth is, I never got much in the way of career advice, and that’s how I ended up working in TV. Fast forward to 2013.
Broccoli in garlic sauce is my go-to meal when it comes to Chinese takeout. I figure the healthful benefits of broccoli balance the oily goodness of the brown sauce and we come out even. Like most people, I shrug off what I find in fortune cookies, but this one took me aback. Suddenly, I was standing in the huddle at practice and Mr. Redden’s voice was echoing in my head. “Madeo! Do you want to be a lawyer?” Holy crap, did I miss something?
You can’t expect teenagers to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives, and maybe trying to talk to them about careers is a waste of time. But now it seems the only solid career counseling I ever had was from Mr. Redden and a fortune cookie. Better than nothing, I guess. Pass the soy sauce.
Yes, ski areas are one of those places where you wish everyone would act more like you, for then the world would be a better place.
The majority of the folks you find on the ski slopes are pleasant, normal people — but for some reason the sport seems to attract a fair number of d-bags. Fortunately, it’s easier to spot them these days because they are all talking loudly on their cell phones in the lift line or, god help me, on the ski lift.
One of my pet peeves has always been people who fail to remove the old lift tickets from their jacket, wearing them like badges of honor of their exploits. That may soon be a thing of the past as places like Jiminy Peak replace the ubiquitous paper tickets with RFID cards that you keep in your pocket. Now you move up to a gate that reads your card and allows you access to the lift.
You might think that some people would resist this, and maybe punch a hole in their RFID card so they can dangle it from their jacket; according to the FAQ, this is a bad idea:
Holes must never be punched in the Axess Jiminy Cards. The card has an antenna inside that surrounds the RFID tag. Any damage to the surrounding antenna will render the card inactive and the card must be replaced. A replacement fee may be required.
Not to worry; these cards and electronic readers are very safe for people with pacemakers — but just in case:
Guests with pacemakers must not wear their lift access media cards near the heart when passing through the gate and a distance of 8 to 12 inches should be observed in the case of queues and while passing through the gate. If vertigo or sickness is experienced, get out of the direct vicinity of the gate or device.
Oh, if only we could figure out a way to make these cards jam cell phone signals. Then we’d be making some progress.
At the end of a long football season it’s easy to dismiss Sunday’s Jets-Bills contest as meaningless — but to the players it didn’t seem meaningless, nor to to the fans who came out on a cold and blustery day to cheer.
After spending most of the night out on ambulance calls I trudged to Buffalo with my tailgating supplies and a Joe Willie Namath jersey. The taunting I got for wearing Jets green was mostly good natured — and nothing compared to the razzing handed out to Jets faithful wearing Sanchez jerseys. They were greeted with shouts of “DIRTY SANCHEZ!” Look it up.
Here I am with Captain Buffalo. He’s on the right.
If nothing else, I’m a pragmatist. One Bills fan shouted, “You’re going to lose!” I thought about that for a second and yelled back, “You’re right!” This got a good laugh, as have the Jets all season long.
We were about as high up in the stadium as you could get – nearly the top row — but mercifully sheltered from the wind. And because we were up so high, I was not a targeted by those tossing snowballs, many of whom were escorted from the stadium by sharp-eyed security guards.
Fandom is a mysterious thing. There were lots of empty seats on Sunday, but many more were filled. In the parking lots tailgaters struggled in the wind to cook and enjoy the hours before the game, partying like it was a warm September day.
Part of me was a little happy that the Jets lost. There’s nothing better than the walk out to your car in a sea of celebration — even if it isn’t your team who won.