Russell Westbrook for MVP

512px-Russell_WestbrookThe Oklahoma City Thunder marketing office called our church a couple of months ago, saying they were offering special deals for church groups.  So we got some folks together and got tickets to last Tuesday’s game.  They were playing the Milwaukee Bucks, the only other NBA team that I’ve seen in person.  The Thunder game began with a local pastor giving a Christian invocation–how common is that in professional sports?  (tell me if you know)–and after lots of opening razzle dazzle, the game settled in.  The Thunder won 110 to 79.  A good time was had by all.

We got to witness Thunder star Russell Westbrook tie the record for triple doubles (double figures in points scored, rebounds, and assists [passing the ball that leads to a basket]).  We can tell our grandchildren that we were there when Westbrook ties Oscar Robertson’s record of 41 triple doubles set back in 1962.  Actually, it will be easy for me to tell my grandchildren, since a number of them were with us and witnessed it too.  The next game Westbrook didn’t make a triple double, but he made enough rebounds so that his average performance for the year was a triple double.  And Sunday, Westbrook set the record after leading his team to a comeback win over Denver, which was leading 10 points in the last two minutes.  Westbrook scored 50 points.

The entire state of Oklahoma is Thunder crazy.  Kevin Durant was everyone’s hero until he signed with the hated Golden State Warriors.  But Westbrook stayed with the team!  One fan started a petition to change the name of Durant, Oklahoma, a small town that had that name long before the Thunder was even thought of.  The petitioners wanted to change the name of Durant to Westbrook, which is actually a good name for a town.  So, of course, all Oklahomans think Westbrook should win the league’s MVP award.

But how could he not win it?  Not only has he made history with his triple doubles.  He leads the league in points scored!  And yet some pundits and fans are championing former-Thunder James Harden of the Houston Rockets.  After the jump, I will make the case why Westbrook is the NBA’s most valuable player. [Read more…]

“Welcome, dear feast of Lent”

“Welcome, dear feast of Lent,” wrote George Herbert in a poem on the subject.  Of course, it is not a feast but a fast.  But I know what Herbert means.  Lent, even when celebrated by fasting, gives us lots to feast upon.

I love Lent, which begins today.  I get so tired of my constant self-indulgence.  It really is a form of bondage.  I find Lent strangely liberating.  I don’t do any grand renunciations or meritorious deeds.  Maybe I can work up to those some year.  Right now I just watch what I eat and exercise.  All I do is live more healthily than I usually do.  I can do that for 46 days.  And usually I can carry over a few good habits into the rest of the year.  But saying “no” to myself–not eating the empty carbs even though I’m hungry; keep walking even though my muscles start to ache–is good for me on many levels.

Oh, another thing I do is start some challenging reading project.  This year I am reading  J. G. Hamann.  (More on him later.)

Do you have any Lenten observances that you have found helpful?

So why the loss of interest in the NFL?

9791303373_196450407d_zTelevision ratings are way down for professional football games.  The NFL is trying to figure out why the sudden loss of interest.

I have to say that I am not as interested in the games as I used to be, even last year, and I’m not sure why.  I don’t think it’s just because the Packers aren’t doing all that well.  I saw them through rougher times.  And it’s not because the games are too long.  I like long games.  And it’s not because Colin Kaepernick is disrespecting the flag.  He’s getting sacked so much that a patriotic fan might take some satisfaction in watching that.  I’m just kind of tired of it.  I still get excited about College Football (go Sooners!) and I’ve started following the NBA (go Thunder!).  But the NFL is giving me a “meh” feeling.

So let me consult you.  Are you still following NFL games as avidly as you used to?  If not, why not? [Read more…]

Back in the U.S.A.!

photo-1474663898126-6f6f19a48b1d_optWe are back in the good old U.S. of A. after spending a month visiting our daughter and her family in Australia.  We enjoyed our time down under very much.  But it’s good to be back home.

I can’t believe that I was able to keep this blog going as usual despite the time difference (16.5 hours, a day ahead) and our many activities.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.

It was strange to watch the election from the other side of the world, but sometimes a little distance (literally) is clarifying.

After the jump, a cool picture of me in the Australian landscape that my son-in-law took.  I call it “Australian Sublime.” [Read more…]

Thanksgiving in Australia

It’s strange being in Australia for Thanksgiving.  We’re getting together with some other expatriate Americans, but since no one gets off work for Thursday, we’re going to have our big meal on Saturday.  Though since American Thursday is Australian Friday, we’re off anyway.  Scrounging all over town for Turkey, cranberries, cornmeal (for dressing), and other staples also gives a new dimension to the feast, but I think we have found everything.  We certainly have a lot to be thankful about, so we can remember those things even on the other side of the world.

So may you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving!

Leon Russell dies

Another icon of my youth, Leon Russell, passed away at age 74.  A piano player from Lawton, Oklahoma, Russell became a member of the “wrecking crew,” that set of session musicians who were responsible for most of the pop music coming out of L.A. in the early sixties, from the Beach Boys to the Mamas and the Papas and the Byrds.  From there, he started playing with British stars, of the magnitude of John Lennon, George Harrison, Joe Cocker, and Eric Clapton.  Also Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and. . .you name it.  The man knew everybody and his eclectic taste meant that he played just about everything.

He was also the main originator of the “Tulsa Sound,” with its country rock boogie-woogie shuffle that made a mark in the 1970s.  I grew up in the Tulsa area around then, and Leon was part of that silly teenaged scene on local late night TV with Mazeppa Pompazoidi (Gaylord Sartain) and Teddy Jack Eddy (Gary Busey).  I remember driving to Tulsa to hear a free concert in a park with Leon and B.B. King, one of the best concerts I’ve ever heard.

After the jump, a link to an informative obituary and a video of what he could do. [Read more…]