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"Learning To Keep The Bank Open At Night" & Other Thoughts for the Early New Year (updated)

The great Boston Celtic guard Sam Jones passed away on December 30 in Wilmington NC at the age of 88.  The Basketball Hall of Famer was part of the Celtic dynasty that won eight NBA titles in a row (1959-1966) - Yankee and Montreal Canadien fans, eat your heart out.


Sam's use of the backboard on his angled jump shots was something to behold even if you grew up a Knicks fan.  


Watching Wisconsin beat Iowa last week, Big Ten Network color commentator Stephen Bardo turned a phrase I had never heard when he praised a Badger's similar shot as "learning to keep the bank open late at night."  


A tip of the cap to Bardo, the former U of Illinois star who has the best qualities of a commentator - enthusiasm and clarity.


So far in this early Big Ten season, Wisconsin is surprising all the pundits who picked the Badgers for 10th in the conference race.  In the Alice in Wonderland world we are living in, the Big Ten has fourteen teams. Teaching basic arithmetic to a youngster these days must be quite a challenge.


There is nothing, I repeat nothing, like when one of your sports teams surprises the "experts" and gives hope for a real competitive season.  Wisconsin didn't need me on Monday January 3rd when they spanked Purdue, ranked #3 in the country, on the road.  


I went instead to hear at the Met Opera (in a fully-masked 2/3 filled house) Massenet's lovely little opera "La Cenerentola".   Based on the Cinderella legend created in the 16th century, the music was written in 1899 but paid homage in many sections to 18th century Baroque music.  


On Thursday night Jan 6th, I was back home to watch on the tube the Badgers control Iowa to move to 3-1 in the conference.  All five starters scored in double figures, led by the breakout sophomore Johnny Davis from Lacrosse WI.  


A wiry guard-forward listed at 6' 4", Davis is the son of Mark Davis, a 13-year former pro who played one year in the NBA.   Johnny's twin brother Jordan is a substitute guard for the Badgers who are now 13-2 and 4-1 in the Big Ten after beating Maryland on the road, 70-69.  


The Badgers blew a 21-point lead but rallied to beat the Terps.  Junior forward Tyler Wahl had a career night with 21 points and his usual defensive tenacity.  Up this Thursday Jan 13 is a rematch with Ohio State who handily beat Wisconsin in Columbus two weeks ago.


The Big Ten schedule is quite a grinder, but fun to watch. Especially when the "experts" dismiss you as also-rans.


Back here in the big city, virus concerns forced cancellation of Columbia women's matchups with Princeton and Penn. They will be re-scheduled soon. 


The Columbia men blew a big halftime lead at Princeton on Friday night but held on to the

lead on Saturday against a Penn team that doesn't seem to be as potent as usual.  Nonetheless, a win is a win and we'll see if my first alma mater can string a few victories

together for rest of season. 


As expected, there is nothing new on the baseball lockout front.  No negotiations are

scheduled and probably won't be until the end of the month. 


The Super Bowl is Feb 13 and spring training camps are supposed to be open the next day.  


Cutting down on the minor leagues, flirting with shortening spring training, and a

general disdain for baseball's traditions is not my idea of how to grow the game - a favorite shibboleth of both MLB and the MLB players association.  


In a sports industry that is part of a very competitive marketplace, pro baseball could find

itself before long as just a niche enterprise.      


Nobody is listening to me so let's turn to the solace of some old movies.  For early risers or night owls or VCR recorders, Mon Jan 17 at 6AM EDT, TCM shows "The World, The Flesh, and The Devil" (1959). 


Harry Belafonte stars as a miner in Pennsylvania working underground when a nuclear bomb wipes out most of the world. Harold J. Marzorati's photography of an empty Manhattan as Belafonte drives into it and starts walking around is particularly stunning.


Belafonte finds a survivor in Inger Stevens who is certainly someone to live for.   Another survivor comes along, Mel Ferrer, and the inevitable triangle develops.  


Ranald MacDougall (1915-1973) wrote the screen play and directed this arresting

film.  He earlier was a screenwriter on "Mildred Pierce" (1945) and "The Breaking Point" (1951), John Garfield's last film for Warner Brothers that came out just as he was being Red-baited.


1959 was quite a year for Belafonte and his production company HarBel.  His "Odds Against Tomorrow," sometimes called the last Noir film of the classic period, came out that year.


Back here in the East, the Jan-Febs have started with a vengeance.  No huge snow

storms yet in NYC but cold weather pretty common. 


Connecting to increasing sunlight is one of my ways of dealing with frigid temps. Dreams of spring training - the best time of the year in halcyon days - may have to be put on back burner.   


Once again the main advice is Take It Easy but Take It, and especially nowadays:

Stay positive, test negative.    



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"Starve Your Distractions, Feed Your Focus" & Other Thoughts for New Year + TCM Tips


About a week ago I ran across on espn.com Alex Scarborough's moving piece about the late sport psychologist Trevor Moawad.  


Born in Lakeville, Washington, Moawad packed a lot into his 48 years on this earth, a time shortened by cancer that he succumbed to this past September. He kept it secret from his friends and colleagues. 


He became a go-to guy for top football coaches Alabama's Nick Saban and Georgia's Kirby Smart, Saban's one-time assistant.


Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson spent nearly a month at Moawad's home 

after throwing the goal line interception that cost Seattle a Super Bowl title over the Patriots.


Marcus Stroman, the former Blue Jays and Mets pitcher (now with the Cubs), was another believer in "Limitless Minds," Moawad's company. 


A lot of sports psychology maxims are fairly obvious. I think Moawad's were definitely a cut above.  Like my title today:  "Starve your distractions, Feed your focus."


Here's one that can help in constructing a team as well as in personal development:

"When you're green, you grow.  When you're ripe, you rot."  


Moawad's last book was called "It Takes What It Takes".  I say that whatever gets us through the next year(s) with some hope and abiding faith is fine with me. 


Who really likes wearing a mask except The Lone Ranger?  And his mouth wasn't even

covered so his mask never got fogged up.  But we have to do what we have to do in the immediate future.


When even our beloved, consoling sports calendars are thrown into disarray, we know

that we are in unchartered waters.  Here's hoping that a grain of normalcy returns in the

warmer weather.   


I am disappointed that I won't be able to see live and in person the start of my Columbia's women's basketball Ivy League season.  But I'll be following on whatever TV or streaming

outlets show their first three big games against Yale (Su Jan 2 at 1P), Princeton (F Jan 7 at 7P) and Penn (Su Jan 8 at 5P).


In the meantime here are some TCM tips for the first weeks in January.

Tu January 4: 345P "Johnny Belinda" (1948)  Jane Wyman's Oscar as a deaf-mute brought to sentient life by Lew Ayres. Set in Nova Scotia.  

Max Steiner's soulful music is truly a supporting actor. So are Charles Bickford, Jan Sterling, and Stephen McNally playing a truly awful character.


Later that night at 8P "This is Spinal Tap" (1984) - the hilarious rock-a-mentary  


Th Jan 6  730A Joe E Brown as Capn Andy in "Show Boat" (1951)

 "   "        415P Brown in his early Hollywood days gets involved in a yacht race in "Top Speed" (1930)  


And if you like murderous people, try this trifecta later on Jan 6:

8P Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope" (1948) inspired by the Leopold-Loeb story


930P Arthur Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) with Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway and

in important roles Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons


1130P Terence Malick's "Badlands" (1973) inspired by Charles Starkweather


Fri Jan 7 8P Howard Hawks's "Red River" (1948) - Montgomery Clift rebels against

John Wayne with Joanne Dru who returns at 1030P in the Noir "711 Ocean Drive" (1950)

with Edmond O'Brien and Otto Kruger


Speaking of Noir, Eddie Muller starts new year on Su Jan 2 12M, 10A

"Repeat Performance" (1947) Joan Leslie tries to relive a night of murder with a happier



Su Jan 9 12M 10A  "Nightmare Alley" (1947) the original without the glitz of today's remake


Su Jan 16 1230A, also 10A - "The Mob" (1951) with Broderick Crawford and Richard Kiley

who before he became "Man of La Mancha" had many roles in Noir films


Su Jan 23 12M, also 10A  "Over-Exposed" (1956)  very little known about this film even on TCM website. I immediately thought it would star Jayne Mansfield but no, it is Isobel Elsom.  


That's all for now.   Be healthy and not without faith.


I sign off listening to the serenely beautiful strains of the slow movement in Mozart's Clarinet Concerto K. 622 and remembering hearing the other day the caressing of the oboe and clarinet in Rachmaninov's slow movement of his Second Symphony.  Now it's Mahler.


I'm reminded of another great adage - "without music life would be a mistake."

So once again take it easy but take it. 




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