Culture, Sports

Real Grit

Justify proudly, majestically pounds the dirt.

We watched the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, and came away with a shiver as Justify fiercely and powerfully pounded across the finish line one and three quarter lengths ahead of his closest opponent.

Why the shiver?

Was it because the 3 year old just won the Triple Crown?  Because he proudly stands 16.3 hands high and weighs in at an amazing 1,380 pounds?  The $1,500,000 purse? Because he’s a fifth generation descendant of Triple Crown Winners Omaha, Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Count Fleet and War Admiral?  His $3,798,000 winnings history?  Because he was loudly and jubilantly bestowed the laudable praise of immortal?

No.  We came away with a shiver because he almost lost to Gronkowski.

If you watched the race you may have lost track of Gronk as the race unfolded, and that is excusable, because absent the use of a wide angle lens, you would not see the trailing horse in the same frame as the 9 others.  He barely made it out of the gate.

At the gate, Gronkowski, ridden by Ortiz in white is delayed.

Gronkowski is a lesson in accidental fortune.  With a meager $79,496 in winnings to date, he did not inspire much confidence as a good bet.  12-1 on race day.  Nevertheless, on a whim, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski recently bought a share in the horse, solely because they shared the same name.  Ah, the joys of personal disposable income!  The football player weighs 265; the horse is over 1,200.

Barely 10 seconds into the race Gronk falls back.

As the race begins, Gronkowski the horse breaks out of the gate dead last.  Only a length behind, he is now eyeing 9 horses’ butts in front of him as he appears to awaken from an afternoon’s equine slumber.  This would be the moment to double back, and check if he is in the right race.

Instead, Gronkowski shuffles into a gallop, no doubt looking to see what the kerfuffle is up ahead.  For the next minute he meanders in the dirt backfield waiting for a sign from his rider, Jose Ortiz.

The gap widens. Can we point the camera elsewhere?

At the first quarter mile, Gronk is in 10th place, 14-3/4 lengths behind you know who.

Meanwhile, at the front of the pack, with intrepid speed and power Justify stretches his lead, thundering ahead of some hopeful contenders.  All the while Justify and Mike Smith, his 52-year-old rider, soar around the bend, never looking back, confident of their win.  They are truly a remarkable, thrilling sight.

“This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.”

At one mile, Gronk is in 9th place, 8-1/2 lengths behind Justify.

Still, there is a change coming.  The message somehow got through to the colt that this was a horse race, and there are terrific upsides to winning versus heading back to the stable.  It is amazing to watch as one by one, Gronkowski slips into the middle of the pack, and nudges his way up the rail like an impatient Target shopper on the way to self-check out.

At mile one, Gronk creeps up on the inside.


As the mob of horses approach the final bend, there is a quarter mile to go.  Gronk has smoothly worked up to 3rd place, 2-1/2 lengths behind.

Then in the final straightaway, the crowds are on their feet, the announcer is screaming into the mike, and Justify stretches forward like a wild dragon on fire, closing on the finish.  While horse and rider don’t look back, they surely can hear amid the crowd’s roar the fierce pounding of another set of hooves.

The finish, hot on Justify’s tail.

Alas, Justify crosses the line, victorious, and doesn’t know who crept up behind him in the last few seconds. It was Gronkowski, who came in second, a third of a second behind Justify’s 2:28:18.

“What the..where did you come from??”

True, it’s a horse race that astounds: it is loud, hot, wet, dirty, fast, scary and dangerous.  Justify completed his race with a time speed of 36 miles per hour.  53 feet per second.  But Gronkowski only woke up half way through the race, so he actually sprinted faster than Justify through the last half mile.

These horses love to run, and some even love to win.

Gronkowski in socks, at a quieter moment.

Talk about grit.




Knuckling Down

The Canadian Open finished at Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville yesterday, and the scoring amazed me for the strokes under par.  After 72 holes played, the leader board showed the winner, Jhonattan Vegas at 21 under par.  Put another way, for 288 recommended strokes, he only needed 267 to win $1,000,000 dollars.

21 under par is a pretty astounding number in the PGA Tour.  But it reminded me that I have played at Glen Abbey, many, many years ago, and I recall that I finished just the front 9 with a 57, or 21 strokes over par.  I have not been back.

Since then, my golf game has not improved.   Despite lessons, innumerable outings, new clubs, golf magazine subscriptions, disciplined score keeping, fastidious handicap calculations  (28.6), spiffy shirts, and an unbridled optimism, I still come up with a couple extra strokes per hole, delivering a consistent 108, +/- 5 strokes.  36 over par any given day.

The reason this occurs is obvious to me now.   After years of recording and analyzing  scores, yardage, accuracy, putts and penalties, my game is consistent.  First, short drives.  Second, wide drives.   Once in the rough, always in the rough.   If most holes require 2 strokes to hit the green, I will usually take three and maybe four.

Next, sorrowful putts.  Regulation calls for two.   My putts will usually be two, but I can make a three, even a four happen so easily that the gallery of geese standing nearby shake their heads in dismay.

I have reconciled and accepted my numbing under-performance.  And like a professional, I have studied it and dissected every misstep, and have now come up with a new way to measure and find success.

The Knucklehead Count

It’s not the lackluster shots that dampen my game.  Sometimes I get away with some brilliant shots which compensate.  What ruins my game is the knucklehead shot.

A knucklehead shot is a bizarre, inept moment of inattention enhanced by extraordinary clumsiness.  Knucklehead putts that are marred by a scuffed green or a bouncing putter.  Knucklehead approach shots are skulled wedge shots that rocket with malice waist-high  over the green and, nearly hitting a startled partner, end up in a bunker.  A knucklehead bunker shot is hit so fat that the ball barely rolls up three feet to rest under the lip.  A knucklehead fairway shot usually involves a 5-wood grinding the ball deep into the  turf before skittering 12 feet to a stop.

Knuckleheads generally can be validated by quickly taking a second ball, and repeating the stroke with consummate perfection.  In other words, lacking my inattention and clumsiness, the prior shot could have been brilliant.  Unfortunately, but to its credit, the game of golf requires physical and intellectual honesty, so the knucklehead counts, and the beautiful do-over doesn’t.

I break out scores on my card to show putts, fairway, yardage, accuracy and penalty strokes.   But the most important score is the knucklehead count.


Because I have accepted my game.  The only thing that changes is the knucklehead count.  When I finish up, I can look at my score, and have this quiet moment of calculation:  “I shot a 108.  But take away 9 knuckleheads and I could have had a 99.  Wow!

When people asked me how my game was, I used to respond, “Pretty good! I found three balls and only lost two!”  Now I measure success, and surprisingly, happiness, by low knucklehead counts.

It’s a great game, even for the knuckleheads.


Thanks for reading!  Please share with your earnest golfing friends who are still looking for that perfect game.



Marketing, Sports

The Deal: With Six You Get Egg Roll


In spring, a young man’s fancy turns to…testing.

It’s a sure sign that Spring is on the way. The March issue of Golf magazine arrived, and after the most dismal stretch of dull weather in recent memory, the green pastoral images of fairways and beach-like bunkers beckon irresistibly.

But among those pages floats another stimulant. Golf blew in 4 different subscription order cards. These 4 x 5-1/2 reply cards exemplify the art of mail-order merchandising.

One would ask, why do we need any cards? I am already a subscriber!

Golf Tees

 It’s all in the numbers.

True, for the longest time I used to let my subscriptions expire so that I could re-up and get the free gift. In the past our home was filled with calculators, phones, binoculars, hats, world maps and globes… all manner of stuff with somebody else’s logo on them. Not only did we like the goo-gaws, but it was fun to get them in the mail.

But Golf’s four order cards demonstrate the great science of offer testing. And there is practical beauty in that:  when you understand what excites the buyer’s brain, you make more money.


Each of the cards has exactly the same deal. One, two or three years for hefty discounted pricing off of newsstand. With each, the same gift premium is offered: a “Golf Distance Finder”.

I couldn’t use the distance finder. It would be perennially set at “Too Far” with only occasional gauging at “Fat Chance”.

Anyway, the cards are all different.  The result of long, worried debates in Golf’s conference room about how to best wring a dollar out of a new sub, there are four gradations.  Each effort targets a different dark corner of the golfer’s bunkered mind.

Card One: It’s blue, with giant GOLF titling.  In simple fashion it provides the basic deal with a mention of the discounts off newsstand price.

For the unassuming habit-driven: "yep, sure, whatever."

For the unassuming and habit-driven: “yep, sure, whatever.”

A small un-captioned picture of the gift is featured with, “yours free”. This card is the control sample, and wins or loses on brand loyalty.  Ideally suited for the unassuming, doubtless, committed player.

Card Two: It’s grey, with a smaller GOLF title, same deals but highlights “Your Price $16.00”. Understanding that some may not know what the gift is, “FREE Distance Finder” is inserted below the picture.

"The distance between me and the cup, and between me and Jupiter is negligible."

“I may never hit the green, but I can see Jupiter.”

This card is for the cash-strapped grinder who is figuring one year is just long enough to suspend the inevitable realization: golf is just a good walk in the wilds ruined. Or they figure $16 bucks is the right price for a telescope.

Card Three: It’s powder blue and screams to the wealthy and permanently, irrevocably, hopelessly optimistic, driven player: “Tomorrow will be a better day and the BEST DEAL! is a 3-year commitment.”

"This will be my year. Well, maybe, then again, sometime in my lifetime."

“This will be my year. Well, maybe, then again, sometime in my lifetime.”

The distance finder is featured, but it’s the 83% discount that grabs.

Card Four: This is the gutsy guarantee card. “Lower Scores. Lower Price.” is for the duffer who has journeyed through four painful levels of acceptance and will now  admit they couldn’t hit a basketball with a broom in a closet.

"This year I will not tear up my score cards."

“This year I will not tear up my score cards.”

They figure literature, technology and a little learnin’ might be the answer. If that still turns out to be a whiff, then they are ready to go for the money refund.


At the end of the test, which could go on longer than the season, the Golf sales department will look at the results for each card, which got the most orders,  which deal worked best for each card, which got the most email addresses, and which got the most money up front.

This is not a double eagle fantasy for statisticians.  Rather, the results of this inexpensive test will predict which offer is worth rolling out in other media with the promise of the highest return on investment.

While solo direct mail may be proud of a $20 cost to get a new subscriber, the numbers may dictate that direct mail is still stronger than web display ads, email or simple on-page advertising.   Knowing which deal is strongest can shave a few pennies off acquisition cost.

Long ago, we used to puzzle over the best offer: “buy one get one free” vs. “two for the price of one” vs. “50% off”.

It isn’t easy, but you can test.

Thanks for reading!   Direct marketing tests are a way of life, and you never know when a new angle won’t build your margins unexpectedly.  I swing at the ball with the same giddy optimism.

Culture, Sports, Wildlife

Paddles Keen And Bright

We have a fleet of canoes.  It was never planned that way, but nevertheless, fate, good fortune and the wish of one man made us canoe mavens.

Freight Canoe Honda

A typical sight along the summer roads of Ontario.

Just last week our son rescued one from the shaky rafters of a rustic, ancient boathouse on a lake in eastern Ontario.

The craft in question is a Chestnut brand Prospector with v-stern. It is a super-wide 16 feet feet long, and has a transom that could host a 3hp outboard if required.


The Chestnut Prospector known as “Pickle” by our grandchildren.

Our grandchildren call it the Pickle, because it’s green. The Pickle is the last of three canoes which my late father-in-law bestowed upon his three daughters, fulfilling a wish that spanned over half a century.

Chestnut Canoes were an iconic boat company headquartered in Fredericton, New Brunswick.  It went under in 1979, victim of changing tastes.

1982 Canoe421

1983– Mabel’s Tremblay loaded down with our young family.

The class of canoe is cedar-canvas. That is, a cedar rib and plank hull, over which canvas is stretched and bound into place. You will find modern canoes made out of fiber glass, and the truly exotic craft are made from pure cedar strip.  Last summer we lifted a carbon-fiber canoe with two fingers.   It weighed 14 pounds.

In the heyday of cedar-canvas canoes, it was common that most cottages in eastern Canada had a canoe, or were in sight of one off their front dock.

2015 243

Camp was our training ground, and today it commissions at least one war canoe, seen above in their brochure.

Truly a Canadian legacy, the canoe today is still seen on the tops of vacationers’ cars speeding along the highways all summer long. But more often, you will see kayaks.  Hard fiberglass, ultra light, in hues of red and yellow.

When not on the road, or in the water, canoes are habitually found in the rafters of boathouses and garages, nation-wide. Which is where we have two, right now.

The Big Idea

1996 235

1996–Our boys ponder a launch of our Pal Chestnut off the front point of the cottage.

Tom Hamilton is my wife’s Dad, and from the time of his youth he had been an outdoorsman. Very much into camping and fishing, Tom enjoyed no greater release than to glide among the ripples of a quiet northern lake, trolling a lure in search of a hit from a bass or muskie. If he couldn’t experience that first hand, he was intent on passing the thrill along to his daughters.

So they went to camp.

1950 Hamilton702 copy

1950– Tom took his team to camp to build cabins. Here they are arriving in “Tough”, a war canoe.

The YMCA summer camp of our youth was built by service groups, in one of which Tom was a member. After WWII, he spent springs and summers cobbling together cabins, docks and dining hall for generations to enjoy.

The waterfront was well stocked with Chestnut canoes, donated by wealthy benefactors.

The skills regimen at our camp focused on canoeing and out-tripping. The requisites were quite firm for campers to canoe and out-trip.

1989 237

1989– Tom with his grandson and friend paddling the Grand River in his Pal, “Hochelaga”.


2016– Tom’s Hochelaga now carries three great grandchildren on the Bruce Peninsula.

We graduated from Tenderfoot to Tribesman, Brave, Chieftain, and Chieftain Expert. A fully-fledged canoeist was eligible for out-tripping when they had mastered bow, stern, portage and solo.

The strength test was to hoist a canoe onto one’s shoulders, unassisted, and portage it about a quarter mile. The canoe weighed around 80 pounds, which doesn’t sound like much until you are swinging it over your head in one move.  The ultimate test was to paddle a “Figure 8” without changing sides.

1989 238

The beauty of river canoeing is to enjoy sights unseen from the highway. Grand River, Ontario.

This was the environment Tom treasured, we were raised in, and not surprisingly, it generated tremendous self confidence and pride. The dividend was paddling these sleek, quiet craft on waters through valleys of forest and granite, easily gliding up to wildlife unaware at any bend in the shoreline.

Among Tom’s three daughters, we have 5 cedar-canvas canoes.

2003 245

2001–Mabel’s Tremblay under total rebuild. The red paint bled through an earlier canvas.

When he retired in 1985, Tom searched classified ads, read marina bulletin boards, and probably pestered a few motorists who were transporting a canoe, and eventually acquired three beauties.

They are all in Ontario. Mary’s Chestnut (a Pal model) canoe resides in a bay by her cottage on the Bruce Peninsula.   Bonney’s Langford is beside the Mississippi River in Pakenham, and Jane’s Prospector “Pickle” is just returning from a week on Silent Lake.

Many years before Tom hatched his acquisition plans, I had a well-travelled canoe given to me by a veteran cottager on our lake. Her name was Mabel Stearns. Her canoe was made in eastern Canada, around 1951.   I think it is a Tremblay.

2003 244

2003– Mabel, all spiffed up, trim and pretty.

It looked pretty rough. Coated in layers of chunky blue and green paint, it had dirty brown, peeling varnish coating its ribs and gunwales, and a hole in its bow, attributed to a fast speeding bullet.

Like most older canoes that live outdoors, its decks were crumbling and rotted from years of storage on the ground.


Bonney’s Langford among the rushes in Pakenham, Ontario.

We were nevertheless thrilled to have the canoe, and that fall we put on a new canvas, reinforced the bow and stern stems, and painted it red. Not a professional job, but sufficient for the time being.

A couple years after that, in 1981, Tom found a red Chestnut Pal looking for a new owner, and convinced me to buy it from a childhood friend of his for $100.  For me, that was considerable, but at the time, a Pal retailed for $800 or more. This canoe was also broken, and I forthwith re-canvassed it, and painted it yellow.

The reconditioned canoes went to our cottage and traded places a couple of times when a more serious attempt was made to give them a worthy overhaul.


2015– My $100 Pal after a major overhaul, complete with mahogany gunwales.

Ultimately, we sold our cottage, which is a not uncommon phenomenon in Ontario where tax law makes inheritance of family cottages a costly consideration.

While we enjoyed the convenience of the cottage’s stable location, we now appreciate the canoe for its portability to other lakes and rivers.


2016– Tom takes his place on the Chestnut.

As a result, the Pickle has visited Silent Lake and awaits its next trip, now likely next year.  Mean time it rests dry in storage outside Toronto.

And our $100 Chestnut has been on numerous lakes and rivers before taking up residence behind our house.   Mabel hangs from the garage ceiling, waiting for her next outing.

For me, the pleasure in all of this has been the fulfillment of Tom’s wish, that the canoe stays front and center in our family.

It has done that, and more so.


Thanks for sharing our canoe story!  “Paddles Keen And Bright” is lifted from a Canadian canoeing song, written by Margaret Embers McGee.  The song is sung as a round, a supposed assist for paddlers.

My paddle’s keen and bright, 
Flashing like silver,
Follow the wild goose flight, 
Dip, dip and swing.

direct mail, Marketing, Sports

Mail Order Magic: The USGA Doubles Down


Marketing: a good grip that doesn’t let go.

The challenge of any direct marketer is to hold the enchantment of the buyer from the moment of first interest until the next order.  Let me tell you how the United States Golfing Association had me firmly in their grip.

Mind you, I have always been attracted to mail order.


First mail order purchase.

As a kid, my first experience with mail order was a Robin Hood hat off the back of a Quaker Oats box. I wrote them a letter with a dull purple crayon. Two box tops, a quarter, and four weeks later, I was decked out in a lincoln green cap complete with turkey feather.

Moments later I dissolved onto a path through the tree line behind our house, earnestly in search of rich people to steal from.

My brother and I followed up with another offer, this time, a potato gun from Nabisco Shredded Wheat. More box tops, more coins, more waiting, and our ordnance arrived: two shiny, plastic, blue and red hand guns.

Phil Cowboy825

The properly outfitted small arms mail order buyer.

Operating instructions were basic. Stick the front of the barrel into a potato, and pull away a small plug about the size of a pencil eraser. Choose a target. Pull the trigger. The little wad of potato would fly across the living room and roll to a stop under the couch.

After a couple of potato bits wound up in the electric space heater, the jig was up.

But the magic remains.   It’s important for cataloguers, mailers and weekend supplement advertisers that their buyer squeezes every bit of enjoyment possible from the order cycle.

The Hat: Mailorder Delivers!

The Hat: Mailorder Delivers!

There is an inexpressible excitement in opening a long awaited package sent by complete strangers, far off and away.   I had sent in my USGA membership renewal, and according to the letter I would receive a hat: an orange 2015 USGA Chambers Bay Open cap.  I already had one, but if it blew away, I’d have back up.

I am certain that the USGA Board of Directors convened a special meeting, extensively reviewing my  application before granting my membership extension for another year. A no brainer for them, this was an important symbolic order of business, for which they would levy a $15.00 fee against my credit card.

From there, I visualized urgent instructions hammered out on the teletype, dispatched to the membership fulfillment department, ordering them to rush a member package to our home, sparing no cost.


The long awaited, hoped for package arrives.

Like a glistening white, dimpled Titleist, teetering on the edge of the cup, I waited by the mailbox.    This week, the USGA kit arrived.

Inside the lumpy plastic package I found my new member card, and a bag tag, branded with my name, and a framable picture of Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 Open.   And more…there inside the package was a new hat–but it was gray.


Surprise! A new hat!

Was there a mistake?

No!   This hat is for the 2016 Open in Oakmont.   I have no idea where that is, but according to the hat, there are squirrels, and acorns.  Perhaps there are groundhogs too.

But the USGA prize committee could not contain themselves by merely presenting me with a new lid.   They also sent along a USGA 40th Anniversary metal ball marker.


Double surprise! A ball marker!

This little disk is used to mark the fictional place of my golf ball as it rests closest to the pin.   I have never had the pleasure of seeing that, but I hope to one day.


But wait, there’s more. It’s magnetized.

Even better, however, the prize committee designated that the ball marker have a special place of its own: it attaches to a magnet on the visor of my new cap.   Wow!   Like many bad hooks off the neighboring tee box, I truly did not see this coming.

Of course, the cap is firmly held in place even on the windiest fairways as the magnet rests over the metal plate in my skull.

Just kidding.

Years ago we were introduced to the concept of lagniappe.  This is the art of giving a little extra.   It wins a customer for life.  Good marketers always work lagniappe, and the USGA has cultivated the technique.


The course beckons; the marker is poised.

With luck, they may someday improve my game.

Thanks for reading!  Please share.  Oakmont is outside of Pittsburgh, PA.

Entertainment, Media, Sports

The Peril of Cable


Reconstruction goes on, with no traffic tie ups.

We are in the midst of rebuilding our house after extracting a 2007 Acura from the bedroom where it was abruptly parked, 9 weeks ago.


Billy, our ATT guy sorting out phone lines.

The latest house renovation is re-connecting some of the ATT phone linkage which was damaged during the crash.   My hat is off to those dedicated techies who spend hours on their knees, on pea gravel in crawlspaces of 50-year-old houses, communing with spiders while they unravel nests of old wires, looking for a dial tone.

Cable and wires are my nemesis.

The current Stanley Cup playoffs remind me of my near cable undoing during the 1976 Canada Cup.

Forty years ago we had no television. We found great entertainment listening to the radio. But there was a new show on– M*A*S*H, and curiosity drove me to see it.


Black & white: as good as it gets.

We had inherited a small black and white television, but its rabbit ear aerial could only bring in fuzzy pictures, even from the three local stations. I had learned that a new invention–cable– could pipe in perfect imagery.

All I needed to do was to subscribe. But reportedly, the cost was huge, so we stayed with radio.   Inspector Maigret on CBL Toronto was great theater.
At the time, we rented in a townhouse complex, one of about thirty 2-story apartments surrounding a common. Blue collar young families used the common as a play ground for their kids, who could run off their patios and into the parkland, well within the confines of the complex.


No amount of protective sheathing will resist a wire cutter.

Our next door neighbor Buzz was a truck driver.   Buzz wasn’t an outlaw, but you could tell by the look in his one good eye and the stitchery across his face that he met challenges head on, or at least, with his head.


Buzz, on a good day.

We called him Buzz after we heard him holler across the common to a neighbor about a batch of turkey buzzard soup he was making.  -Not sure that he was a hunter, and it would not surprise me to find he was feasting on something from the grill of his rig.

On any warm evening we could wave to our neighbors who might be on the patio, barbecuing, or enjoying dessert outside.

Guy laFleurCan76_06

Guy Lafleur works his technique.

In September, 1976, the common discussion was about The Canada Cup series.  This was a fierce hockey competition between Canada, Finland, Russia and Czechoslovakia which were fighting each other on the ice for supremacy.

The game between Canada and the Czechs was starting soon, and the chatter all along the patios was about our chances.


Gyro and his little helper.

On our patio, I was brewing a solution to the TV viewing problem. Gyro Gearloose, unleashed.

I had often seen in our basement the TV cable snaking along the ceiling, one wire going to each room upstairs.  In the living room was a cable outlet.   My figuring was, cut a length of cable from one of the unused bedroom lines, and use it to connect the TV in the living room.

After confirming it was a bedroom line, I deftly severed it to create a 3-foot piece of cable.   Marching upstairs, I connected it to the wall, and to the TV.


Success! With 12 channels to surf, too.

Voila!!   Pure, crisp and pristine TV viewing, not on three channels, but on TWELVE channels.   And as I spun the dial, I found M*A*S*H.   Wow!   I was amazed by my brilliance.   Running through the channels, I also found The Game.  First period, and the Czechs are pounding Canada.

Pretty pumped, I went on to the patio to brag about our newfound cable reception.  I wasn’t expecting high-fives, because everyone already had cable, but still…


Where’s the remote??

Outside there was commotion.  Unsettled residents were sliding open their doors, crossing over to their neighbors, assembling in groups.   There was a mild but growing grumble of discussion floating across the common.

“What’s up?” I asked.

Buzz growled.    He stood about 6’4″ and 260 pounds.  The devil tattoo on his forehead was pulsing.  “Cable’s out.   How about yours?”

“Oh, geez, no, hahah, mine’s fine!” I blurted out.  I hardly had seen the words float across to his pierced cauliflower ears before I realized my blunder.

“Good.  We’re coming over.  Got a bottle opener?”

gyro's helper

A better idea in progress!

“Well, let me just check the kids, first.”  I dove back in to the living room, slammed the door, and literally ripped the cable out of the television.  Unscrewing the wall plate, I pulled the piece out, and ran to the basement.   Minutes later, I had re-connected the wire.

Running back up to the patio, I found Buzz gathering his restive and frustrated friends heading in to our living room.

Out of breath, I put on my most disappointed face, “Geez.  Whaddyaknow..our cable is out too.  Crap. Shucks.  ‘Can’t get the game!”   I kicked the lawn chair for emphasis.

In the next moment, another hockey fan grunted across the common: “Cable’s back on. What the…”

Buzz retreated with his entourage, shuffling back onto his patio, tearing  off a prolonged belch as he slid open his living room door.

We retreated to ours as well.  The TV screen was an oatmeal grey with Hawkeye swimming through it.   I turned it off.  Out on the patio, the sound of distant cheers.

Mean time, we clicked on the radio, Inspector Maigret, surveying a footprint in the garden.  We leaned in closer to hear.



Thanks for reading!  It wasn’t for a couple more months before I learned that cable was free: it was in the rent.  Canada won the series. Go Hawks!

Government, Politics, Sports

Performing Under Pressure

Pats & Pres

Number 12 couldn’t make it.

In the locker room~

“Everyone listen up! Step forward everybody who wants to go to the White House!

Scrambled scraping of chairs, shuffling and stamping of feet.  Clearing of throats and nervous coughing.

“Uh, not you Tom.”

Sometimes it’s just not in the cards, and my suspicion is that we didn’t get the whole story when the New England Patriots visited the White House, on their own, without star QB Tom Brady.

The official excuse from the Brady household was that he had a family commitment.  More likely, he was rushed to find one after a round of calls between the back offices of the NFL, Ted Wells, the White House, and of course, the Patriots.

Is there anyone who really believes Tom Brady blew off the President and the Oval Office for a family picnic?  This is the same NFL star who managed to leave town and his family for 12 games during the season,  including the SuperBowl.

Political writers suggested he was a staunch conservative and anti-Obama.  And would never show.


Keeping Up Appearances At The White House

My hunch is that the powers that be had set up their dance cards about two days after deflategate hit the news. There’s no way that the obsessive meeting planners at the White House only thought in February to ask the Super Bowl champs to visit.

More likely they cued the caterer and photographer last November, don’t you think?  They probably had brackets displayed across the kitchen wall for months.

And the adminions-in-charge would have their antenna up for any possible smudge that could sully a Presidential photo op.   Remember, Aaron Hernandez, another Patriot, was on trial for murder at the same time.

Without question, the President would have to tap dance a bit if the deflated football story didn’t turn out well.

And it didn’t.

Special investigator Ted Wells was assigned to the case February 14, and May 6 he delivered his verdict.

The timing was precisioned too. With the deftness of a Manhattan social maven, Wells stalled past March Madness. Got beyond the MLB spring opener. Stretched it through tax day. Slid through the White House visit.   Let the NFL draft event take place.  And then 4 days later dropped the hammer.

The President was spared the embarrassment of hosting a person who was under a cloud. But to be sure, they burnt his invitation.

Their hunch was right, and they probably had it confirmed by Wells, or NFL’s Roger Goodell, weeks before.

To save face everywhere, Tom Brady stayed at home to see the fam, because after all, when it comes to what counts, politics is definitely low  priority.

Or is it?