Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Golfing Diaries: Mountain View Is Hell's Own Golf Course

Course Ranger
In my experience as a golfer, there's always a course or two that just does not work for you. Either the layout does not fit your game, there are holes that just perplex for club selection, or the slope and distance is just too much. Sometimes you come back for whatever reason, and maybe one day you break through and play better, but you still do not like it very much. It's one thing to not score terribly well, but it's quite another when the game just stops being golf, and becomes something that you are just looking to finish, rather than enjoy.

That's Mountain View for me, just outside of the Trenton airport. It's a muni that's in my county, and hence, one where I can play for a discount. It gets less traffic than the other, better muni that's closer, and it seems to be in decent shape... that is, until you set foot on the course.

Let's start with the layout. Mountain View has lots of back and forth par fours without much in the way of risk / reward. They are close enough to each other where you can make birdie from the wrong fairway, which means you have to keep your eyes open for other groups. The only thing you are doing here is trying to hit it straight... but the vast amount of landing area in the fairway is sloped, because it's mostly cut back and forth into the same hill. So what's in your head is that there really isn't a place to target, and when you land, it's just going to kick off anyway. From the tee, you are already annoyed, and there's also more than a few shots when you are blind coming back.

Signature hole? There isn't one. There's a par four with a carry over a fountain that might qualify, I guess. There's plenty of water, but none of it pretty. There's a par 3 on the front nine where the water carry is hidden, to the point where I found my ball in a pencil stream and wound up scrambling it out, but only after an armful of mud and a brush with something poisonous that caused my forearm to fire away for the next few hours.

Not appetizing enough yet? I'll go on. The greens are flat and boring. The bunkers aren't particularly well-maintained or fluffy. The refreshment cart zooms around the place, but I think the woman driving it today was pranking us, in that we saw her a half dozen times, and were 0 for our first 5 in attempts to flag her down for a damned drink.

That's what is involved in the place every day of the week. What's new today was *clouds* of swarming little flies. They kicked in on the second hole, and were pretty much in my eyes, ears, and crawling under the brim of my hat for about half of the four hours that we went around the track. They were in and out just often enough to be noticeable every time they came back, and went away just often enough to hope that was the end of it. But it never was.

In the front nine, you couldn't see why they were so omnipresent. Sure, there's water on the course, but not so much as to be plague levels. On the back nine, it all came together, with three different instances of stagnant water just sitting in the middle of play; on the throat of the green, next to the tee box, etc. All of these pools were just teeming with larvae, the clear breeding ground for player misery, and no one from the course seemingly giving a damn.

Do you know what would be better, Mountain View? Pouring sand on that. You are a golf course, and a well-trafficked one. Sand is not particularly expensive. One assumes that you have to buy a fair amount of it. Send a guy over, in a cart -- hey, you have those, too! -- with a bag and a knife. Use the knife to cut the bag. Pour the sand on the wet area. Voila! Maybe not so many clouds of flies in everyone's eyes, ears, nose and throat.

To be fair, I probably wasn't going to play a great round of golf anywhere today. I spent Saturday at a water park and the ocean with my kids, and the sunblock application was not perfect. I was stiff, tired, not terribly flexible and haven't hit a shot in a week. We didn't get there early enough to hit anything at the range, so my first few holes were particularly ugly. I brought bad game to a bad course, and what happened was bad golf.

But what usually happens in a bad round of golf is that there are a few shots that bring you back, when your muscle memory or simple luck kicks in and you get something that looks right. On the 18th, I put a wedge from 50 yards away within 10 feet of the hole with a pleasing arc, and my partner for the day laughed, because that's just the thing that happens. I didn't even want to putt it. I was just glad to get close to the pin, because that meant that I would be able to get the hell away from this place a few seconds faster.

That's the thing about bad courses. Life's too short to play on them. No matter how close they might be, or when you can get out for a round.

Sometimes, I have trouble sleeping. When I do, I visualize playing on the course where I've played the most. I imagine a remote view of myself, "see" my shots in the round of my life, go through my bag to pick different clubs, slow it down like it's a video game. When I do this, I also do some deep breathing exercises, and it becomes meditative and calming. I sleep.

I think if I ever tried to do this with Mountain View, I'd wake up screaming.

Do yourself a favor and stay away from the place, OK?

Brandon Boykin Gets Sold For Pennies On The Dollar

Play On, You Halfwit
Today, the Eagles moved one of the best slot CBs in the NFL, and a guy who might have been the best cover CB on the roster... for a fourth or fifth round pick.

Yes, on a team that desperately needed to get better play from its secondary, and was ostensibly running an open competition for CB2. Coming off a year in which nearly half of the roster has a new job, with continuity being a big win in the NFL. Coming off a 2-year period where Boykin did just about everything he was asked to do, and didn't lip off when he was given no shot at CB2 in last year's turd fire secondary, the one that cost the team a playoff berth after a fast and lucky start. (Seriously, rather than give Boykin a shot at CB2, they kept single-covering guys with said failing CB2. Hard to do, really.)

Why did the deal go down? Well, Boykin isn't the right size or height for Coach / GM Chip "Nero" Kelly, the man who runs off talented players for any reason whatsoever, regardless of performance level or team need because, well, He's A Genius. Boykin at least fetched them a fifth round pick from Pittsburgh, which is a startling step forward for Nero, in that he at least got back some value at all for top-level performance, rather than the Absolutely Nothing At All that he got for DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Evan Mathis. (Oh, and the fact that he got back less than the fourth round pick they spent on him in 2012? Also immaterial. After all, that pick was Before Nero, when nothing was ever any smart. Don't look at now-tossed GM Howie Roseman's last draft without Kelly, which was actually quite good. After all, Nero's A Genius. And the fact that Shortie Boykin was good, while Tall Dudes that Nero brought in were not? Also immaterial.)

Boykin at least has the mild excuse of having a contract come due after 2015 ends, and the team did over-farm on DBs in the draft, to the complete neglect of the aging and thin offensive line. He goes to a Steeler team who actually have made a history of managing talent to scheme, rather than insisting on thinking that good production from a smaller player is good production.

I don't doubt that Boykin will be better off for the move, and that the Steeler pick will not be very good. I also don't doubt that he'll be in the league for longer than Nero. And that this is just one more plank for the pyre that will be lit for Nero after a double-digit loss campaign, one that will hopefully flush the virus from the system.

With each succeeding Kelly whiff at GM, we get one day closer to the day when the franchise resets. Unfortunately, we also get one player further away from having enough talent to compete. Good luck in Pittsburgh, Brandon, and enjoy the Nero Alumni meeting at the Pro Bowl next year...

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Rowdy Roddy Piper Passes -- Where Is The Justice?

Yes, Always
Piper was an iconic pro wrestler, dead of a heart attack at age 61 today.

I came to wrestling in my childhood, mostly because no one else in my family liked it at all. I'm the youngest of three, with siblings that are 6 and 7 years older than me, and from age 5 on, we were a single parent household.

So I spent most of my formative years alone or trying to be alone, because being around my siblings was, well, difficult in the way that big age gaps when you are a kid is just difficult. They didn't like wrestling, so I got to watch it by myself. That worked out for all of us.

Wrestling was something that was on when everyone else was asleep on Saturday mornings, or later on, something where I got to see a house show, on our local cable TV outlet, when the house cleared out on Saturday nights. And Piper was the biggest bad guy in the world... for, well, the rest of the world. I think it took me until about age 10 or so to become well and truly sick of the hero in Piper's world, the now-disgraced Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea, and I frankly enjoyed it whenever Piper got one over on him and gave him a weasely beatdown. Better still was when Piper got on the mic and insulted whatever city he happened to be in, with a transcendent moment for me coming when he called Philadelphia "America's Armpit" in a promo for a Spectrum event. I agreed entirely, and went behind the curtain to realize that without Piper getting thousands of people to lose their minds in the hopes that they would get to see him get his brains beat in, this whole enterprise was supremely pointless.

Like most people, I went away from wrestling when A Life (aka, college, women, my rock band, etc.) intruded. I'd still check in on the product from time to time, and smile whenever I saw Piper, because it seemed like ever since I stopped paying attention, the rest of the world came around to love the guy. In the past few years I discovered podcasting, and spent a few dozen hours with Roddy in my ears. He told good, though fairly repetitive, stories. He reminded me of older relatives, conducted shambling interviews with other guys who seemed as cheerfully beaten up as he was, and was absolutely unrepentant about his more out-there work, which included a fair amount of racially charged stuff.

A month ago, there was some kerfluffle where Piper lost primary distribution to his podcast as a result of some skit. Earlier this week, with Bollea becoming persona non grata, Piper sent off a terse aside over how much of an overreaction was occurring, and yeah, there probably should be a higher state of grace for older guys, because expecting older people to just give up racism is kind of nuts. And tonight, he's just dead, for seemingly no reason at all, because if you travel as much as wrestlers do, and get hurt as much as wrestlers do, and spend an untold number of nights in strange beds, the end can just seemingly come at any time. And will.

So remember him as he wanted to be remembered, in my favorite Piper story... as the heel in the middle of the ring before his match against face Latinos in Southern California. He's playing "La Cucaracha" on the bagpipes to drive a Hispanic crowd to riot. The tactic works all too well, and he has to defend himself from charging spectators who think wrestling is real. He's beating the garbage out of people for real while making the terrified ref in the ring with him break down with laughter even while he's afraid for his life by asking him, in mid riot, "Where is the justice?"

Piper was that good at his job, that committed to playing the part. He was stabbed more than once by unhinged patrons, abused by sadistic older co-workers who thought hazing the young was a perk. He once made Vince McMahon say "I love you" by painting half of his face black to give badly needed juice to a fight against a charisma-free black face, only to get pranked by co-workers into having his make up go on permanent, and having to walk through the airport the next day still looking like that. He made a lot of money, probably spent more than he made, and spent his life in the way he saw fit. He was great at his job, and got to do it until he couldn't do it any more. Whether or not you care about his profession or not, there is nothing better than you can say about a man, in my book.

Dead, at 61, from a heart attack, like clear air turbulence.

Where is the justice, indeed?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Five Brief and Obvious Points About Tom Brady's Suspension Being Upheld

This header alone = four games
> Patriots owner Bob Kraft says he was "wrong to put his faith in the league." Wow, Bob. The scab refs didn't do it. Various instances of lockout didn't do it. The cover-up of head trauma for ex-players didn't do it. Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson and Boutygate and all the rest didn't make you lose your faith in the league. But hitting your star player in the nuts for obvious malfeasance? That does it. Mighty Patriots of you, Robert Kraft.

> Brady's puling about how the destruction of his cell phone proves nothing... um, a moment here, Dreamboat. Maybe rich people treat their stuff differently. Maybe making more in one year of playing ball than I will make in my life means you go gorilla on your tech. But I've owned phones for 15 years now, including some that I was well and truly sick of by the time they were no longer useful, and I never out and out destroyed one. You do understand that the rest of the world pretty much stopped listening to you right at that point, right?

> If anyone involved actually thought that arbitrator Roger Goodell was going to rule against what judge Roger Goodell decided... um, yeah. There's no one getting out of this clean.

> The NFLPA is planning to fight this, because, um, the NFLPA fights everything. It's what unions do, because if you are paying union dues and they don't fight for against your penalty, you may be history's greatest monster. Patriot Fan really should not take any great comfort from this.

> Finally, if you think the NFL is wrong to degrade its opening weekend game by having the defending champions play with their QB2... you do remember how the NFL spent most of its Super Bowl hype week dealing with deflated footballs, right? And that the NFL doesn't do well with people who in any way embarrass them, otherwise known as why Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann don't work for ESPN any more? Frankly, I'm kind of amazed that Brady didn't get *more* games for daring to appeal...

Monday, July 27, 2015

Top 10 reasons why Boston is out of the Olympics running

Thieves, Thieves, Thieves
10) Area is now just smart enough to avoid a massive scam

9) For once in the history of American sports, taxpayers won't foot the bill for stadiums they don't want or need... because for the most part, the sports played in the Olympics are not American

8) IOC's apples were not sufficiently how, or about

7) Now that America's enemies do not show up and compete in the Olympics, we really could not give a rat's nethers about them

6) Boston is deferring to Los Angeles, because that's just how the world works (this one is in here just to troll Celtic Fan, which is to say, we're trolling the trolls)

5) Area politicians were not willing to give up the perfect and pristine traffic patterns

4) Too many Olympic events do not have balls with a variable amount of inflation (this one is in here just to troll Patriot Fan, which is to say, we're trolling trolls that other trolls look down on)

3) After the past decade of non-stop obnoxiousness after winning that has made every other area of the country hate them, just didn't have the heart to expand into track and field and crap

2) Making good basketball players come to Boston is just so passe

1) Like anything else that didn't work out just how they wanted, it's somehow New York, ESPN, or the NFL's fault

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