11/30/2014 archive

Throwball Championship Game

Perhaps you were thinking about the one between Green Bay (Yay!) and the Patsies (Boo, Hiss) that’s supposed to be a Super Bowl preview.

Please, first of all that season hasn’t ended yet and secondly you should know by now that for the most part only the weirdest and most obscure sports are worthy of my ephemeral photons, if there were a Curling Channel I’d be all over it.

No, today is the Grey Cup, the Championship of the Canadian Throwball League and the time of the Grand National Drunk.

Like Lord Stanley’s Cup, Earl Grey’s (and yes, he’s famous for other things besides a Tea blend) has the names of all the Championship Teams and Players engraved on an ever expanding base and is treated with same shameless disregard (broken several times, stolen twice, and salvaged from a fire) that Canadians customarily treat their sports trophies with (I told you it’s National Drunk Day, how about a beer, eh?).

Actually, Canadian and U.S. Throwball have a common origin and as you may not suspect, Canadians were the innovators.

The Canadian Football League and the Grey Cup – a beginner’s guide

David Lengel, The Guardian

Friday 28 November 2014 09.48 EST

The sport played today evolved from a hybrid of rugby and soccer. In fact, both the American and Canadian versions of the game can trace their roots back to an 1874 series between Cambridge’s Harvard University and McGill University of Montréal. By then, the Canadians were picking up the ball and running with it while the Americans were mostly using their feet. It seems that Harvard were quite taken with McGill’s playing style and began to adapt their own version of the sport – from that moment on the two codes continued to evolve on separate paths.

The Canadians created a unique version of the game they called rugby football, and it actually wasn’t until 1960 that the term “rugby” was dropped entirely.

As The Guardian article goes on to point out, there are some minor rule differences that have a major impact on the way the game is played-


  • 150-yard long field including 20-yard endzones
  • 65 yards wide
  • 12-a-side
  • Three downs
  • 20 seconds between plays
  • A one-point play called a “single” or a “rouge”
  • The clock stops after every play inside three minutes
  • All kicks are live, no fair catches but the returner gets a five-yard buffer
  • Linemen are separated by a full yard at the line of scrimmage


  • 120-yard long field
  • 53.3 yards wide
  • 11-a-side
  • Four downs
  • 40 seconds between plays
  • No one-point plays (except PATs)
  • Two minute warning
  • Fair catches can be called for on kicks
  • Receivers may move before the snap parallel to the line of scrimmage
  • Linemen are separated only by the line of scrimmage

To the casual viewer, it may seem like the games resemble each other closely, but the CFL version is much faster. Consider this – with a shorter play clock teams have just half the amount time to get a play off. With much more real estate to cover on a CFL field, linemen need to be much quicker on their feet while chasing offenses that feature more option play and wide receivers who get a running head start.

I’ll note that the lack of Downs and the longer and wider playing area place a premium on the passing game.  It’s two Downs and Punt.

Oh, and about that single point play-

  • The defense/receiving team are unable to return a punt or a missed field goal out of the endzone.
  • The defense/receiving team allow a punt or a missed field goal to roll out of the endzone and out of bounds.

It’s not uncommon to have games that resemble Pitcher’s duels in Baseball where the Kicking Game dominates as advancing the ball is quite difficult.

Playing for the Cup today are the Calgary Stampeders (official site) who are the 7 and a half point favorites and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (official site).  They both have young and inexperienced Quarterbacks and athletic Defenses.  The Stampeders are favored because the’ve shown more consistency over the season while allowing some upsets.  The Tiger-Cats have a less imposing record but have played very well recently.

I’m rooting for the Stampeders because they have a nicer looking website without that ugly Tim Horton’s ad.

Coverage starts on ESPN2 @ 6 pm with Kickoff @ 6:30.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Ferguson: Do the Right Thing Redux

This has been a busy weekend — dividing time somewhat schizophrenically between participating in one or the other of the many actions sparked by the decision in Ferguson not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown — while at the same time planning an annual Thanksgiving meal.  Being a “conscious” political and multi-racial “family”, on past Thanksgivings we often commemorated the day by attending a local American Indian event.  As the years past, we reverted to a somewhat more traditional community potluck dinner with friends with turfu, organic dishes, etc. Still later, as biological families divided into nuclear subdivisions with children, somewhat smaller gatherings were held where we would prepare the traditional feast with a nod to  and solemn commemoration of the genocidal history behind the holiday and watch a socially conscious movie.

This year, someone suggested that we Watch Do the Right Thing. (In full disclosure, we did not end up watching Do the Right Thing because one young black guest who happens to be gay felt that he had been bullied by his peers in the neighborhood as he was growing up and it would be a painful reminder (he still lives in central Harlem about a block from the National Action Headquarters) and another young black woman felt that she needed a break from the intensity of the explosion of feelings and responses that the Ferguson decision brought on. Life is often more full of contradictions and ambiguities than our political struggle for justice would suggest.

Still, the reminder of the controversial movie, first released to great criticism as to whether it was promoting violence or showing how destroying property was better than killing human beings, reminds us how a cultural representation can help people understand the emotions behind our struggle in a way that facts and figures can’t.

First released in 1989, Do the Right Thing, one of Spike Lee’s earliest movies,  tells the story of the racial tensions in the black community in a Brooklyn neighborhood which culminates in tragedy when a young black man is killed by police. The young man’s death results in a night of rebellion in which the people in the community burn down local businesses including the local pizzeria.

The movie was released long after the racial tensions and the riots of the 1960s which it was meant to portray, and before the Rodney King beating in 1991 resulted in the rebellion in Los Angeles. Long before 41 bullets felled Amadu Diallo, the African immigrant shot at his front door by police in the Bronx, or the brutal torture of Abner Louima who was beaten and sodomized with a broomstick by police after he was arrested outside a Brooklyn nightclub. (Sidenote: Neither of these later incidents resulted in riots, but in organized nonviolent civil disobedience and, eventually in sort of very limited conviction of some of the perpetrators. It is interesting to note, however, the Louima case only came to light after a nurse reported the incident when he was brought to the hospital. She was the only one of 28 people who had witnessed parts of the incident the night he was arrested. The other 27 people threatened her for speaking out.)

In Do the Right Thing, Lee sets out the many cultural signifiers of the community’s racial tensions that lead to the violence of both police brutality and the violence of enraged communities of color — in other words, the  very American history of the culture of oppression in the black community:

Mookie, played by Spike Lee, is the young man who, as the pizza delivery man, is viewed by a frustrated Tina, his girlfriend and mother of his child, as unambitious and unable or unwilling to live up to the model of the father and family man that is portrayed on TV, reflecting the tensions between the sexes in a community held down by racism.

Sal, the pizzeria’s Italian American owner, has been in the neighborhood for 25 years. His older son is openly racist while his younger son is friendly with Mookie. Sal sees himself as part of the neighborhood, but when asked by Smiley, a mentally disturbed young man who is always carrying around pictures of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., and “Bugging Out” (described by his name)to put up pictures of Malcolm and Martin on his “Wall of Fame”, along with the Italian Americans such as Sinatra, he refuses because, as he says, he owns the restaurant.

There are many other signifiers — “Da Mayor,” an old alcoholic man who signifies street wisdom and compassion (but who is not respected by the younger generation in the neighborhood), the young men who hang on the corner, the Asian store owner who signifies new cultures moving into the neighborhood and the conflict that brings (but who can hold her own in a swearing match in a confrontation with her black American neighbors).

But most significant is Radio Raheem, a big young black man who supported Smiley and Buggin Out’s demand to post Malcolm and Martin’s pictures in the pizza parlor. Raheem is well  meaning, but is always getting into trouble for playing his radio too loud.

When Sal and Radio Raheem get into a fight over turning down the radio and Sal calls him a “nigger,” a fight breaks out that spills into the street and draws a crowd and Sal calls the police. When the police come, they arrest “Buggin Out” and put Raheem in a chokehold which kills him. Once the cops realize he is dead, they beat up “Buggin Out” and leave the scene, leaving Sal and his sons exposed to the crowd’s rath.  When the Mayor tries to calm the crowd down, the crowd turns on him. Mookie then picks up a trash can and throws it through the window of the pizzeria and a race riot begins. In the melee, the Mayor saves Sal and his sons.  

While this is not a very good or complete synopsis of the movie, you get the picture Radio Raheem could be Michael Brown – or Earl Gardner, another “big” black man who was selling “loosies” on the street in Staten Island who was killed shortly after Michael Brown by NYPD officers in a chokehold, which was also witnesses by several citiznes (This raised new critiques about the appointment of William Bratton as the new New York City police chief since he has a known history of going after nonviolent offenders for small street “crimes” as well as a bad track record of chokehold deaths under his command)– or Anthony Baez (my neighbor in the Bronx) who was playing football with his nephew when the ball bounced and struck a police car and the policeman (who had already been moved from neighborhood to neighborhood to hide his history of excessive force) put 17 year old Baez into the chokehold and killed him — or 17 year old Jordan Davis who was killed in a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida for playing loud music because a 47 year old software engineer who was a known racist felt that Davis’ refusal to turn the music down “threatened” him and that he was  entitled to shoot Davis and would not be held accountable by the police or courts. He was in fact convicted of murder, but 17 year old Davis is still dead.

The fact is, we all have our own memories of the cases that most specifically affected us and there are many other cases across the country and across the years– far far too many to recount here and they seem to be increasing.  Which is why it is important to raise the question that Lee asks in Do the Right Thing.What must the black community do to finally overcome, once and for all, the virulent racism that is so endemic in the United.   (For an analysis of the importance of the movie and the Ferguson situation to questions of violence, issues of the “Rule of Law” or why it is important not to conflate race and class, read below the fold.)

Rant of the Week: Geroge Carlin on Death

Can’t say you weren’t warned.

1991, 23 years ago.

Interestingly enough many of the location shots were filmed in Seymour and Georgetown.  Both businesses are now defunct.

On This Day In History November 30

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 30 is the 334th day of the year (335th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 31 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1886, the Folies Bergère in Paris introduces an elaborate revue featuring women in sensational costumes. The highly popular “Place aux Jeunes” established the Folies as the premier nightspot in Paris. In the 1890s, the Folies followed the Parisian taste for striptease and quickly gained a reputation for its spectacular nude shows. The theater spared no expense, staging revues that featured as many as 40 sets, 1,000 costumes, and an off-stage crew of some 200 people.

In 1886, the Folies Bergère went under new management, which, on November 30, staged the first revue-style music hall show. The “Place aux Jeunes,” featuring scantily clad chorus girls, was a tremendous success. The Folies women gradually wore less and less as the 20th century approached, and the show’s costumes and sets became more and more outrageous. Among the performers who got their start at the Folies Bergère were Yvette Guilbert, Maurice Chevalier, and Mistinguett. The African American dancer and singer Joséphine Baker made her Folies debut in 1926, lowered from the ceiling in a flower-covered sphere that opened onstage to reveal her wearing a G-string ornamented with bananas.

The Folies Bergère remained a success throughout the 20th century and still can be seen in Paris today, although the theater now features many mainstream concerts and performances. Among other traditions that date back more than a century, the show’s title always contains 13 letters and includes the word “Folie.”

Located at 32 rue Richer in the 9th Arrondissement, it was built as an opera house by the architect Plumeret. It was patterned after the Alhambra music hall in London. The closest métro stations are Cadet and Grands Boulevards.

It opened on 2 May 1869 as the Folies Trévise, with fare including operettas, comic opera, popular songs, and gymnastics. It became the Folies Bergère on 13 September 1872, named after a nearby street, the rue Bergère (the feminine form of “shepherd”).

Édouard Manet‘s 1882 well-known painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère depicts a bar-girl, one of the demimondaines, standing before a mirror.

The painting is filled with contemporaneous details specific to the Folies-Bergère. The distant pair of green feet in the upper left-hand corner belong to a trapeze artist, who is performing above the restaurant’s patrons.

The beer which is depicted, Bass Pale Ale (noted by the red triangle on the label), would have catered not to the tastes of Parisians, but to those of English tourists, suggesting a British clientèle. Manet has signed his name on the label of the bottle at the bottom left, combining the centuries-old practice of self-promotion in art with something more modern, bordering on the product placement concept of the late twentieth century. One interpretation of the painting has been that far from only being a seller of the wares shown on the counter, the woman is herself one of the wares for sale; conveying undertones of prostitution. The man in the background may be a potential client.

But for all its specificity to time and place, it is worth noting that, should the background of this painting indeed be a reflection in a mirror on the wall behind the bar as suggested by some critics, the woman in the reflection would appear directly behind the image of the woman facing forward. Neither are the bottles reflected accurately or in like quantity for it to be a reflection. These details were criticized in the French press when the painting was shown. The assumption is faulty when one considers that the postures of the two women, however, are quite different and the presence of the man to whom the second woman speaks marks the depth of the subject area. Indeed many critics view the faults in the reflection to be fundamental to the painting as they show a double reality and meaning to the work. One interpretation is that the reflection is an interaction earlier in time that results in the subject’s expression in the painting’s present.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: St. Louis Alderman Antonio French; former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly; and New Yorker contributor Jelani Cobb.

The roundtable guests are: Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol; ABC News’ Cokie Roberts, and Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are: Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump; Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic; Dr. James Peterson, Director of Lehigh University;  Sen.-elect Thom Tillis (R-NC); Sen.-elect Gary Peters (D-MI); and Archbishop Blase Cupich, Pope Francis’s first appointment in the United States.

His panel guests are John Heilemenn, Bloomberg Politics; Michael Crowley, Politico; and CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: Some of this Sunday’s “MTP” guests are: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D); Sen.-elect Tom Cotton (R-AE); and Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

H/T to The Hill

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are  Michael Huerta, head of the FAA; convicted felon and  former NYPD Police commissioner Bernard Kerik; Malik Aziz, the Deputy Police Chief of Dallas; Chief Thomas Manger, Vice President of the Police Executive Research Forum; and Chief James Craig from Detroit.

Her panel guests are: two presidential historians: Richard Norton Smith and Douglas Brinkley; and veteran Washington reporters Karen Tumulty and Peter Baker.

Sunday Night Movie

In Memoriam: Vern Radul (Edger)

In is with a heavy heart that we bring the saddest news that our dear friend and editor Edger passed away on November 28 after a brief illness. As one friend noted Edger was caring, passionate and compassionate and with a strong sense of justice.

Vern Radul 11/28/2014 photo Vern_zpse07c1aba.jpg

Rest in Peace, my friend

The Breakfast Club (Work, Care, Joy)


Antonín Dvořák was a composer of the late Romantic model meaning fiercely nationalist, overtly emotional, and deriving his melodies and themes from folk music roots.  Wagner poisoned at least a generation of musicians.

Rather than directly echo any particular song or dance Dvořák sought to capture the rhythms and harmonies of his sources and while most of his work is, as you might imagine, influenced by his Bohemian and Moravian roots, he also sought inspiration from other Slavic cultures in Serbia, Poland, and the Ukraine.

Something that’s not widely realized is his influence on United States Art Music.  He arrived in New York in 1892 and stayed there until 1895.  In addition to composing several works, notably the String Quartet in F (the “American”), the “New World Symphony“, and the Cello Concerto in B minor, he wrote extensively on the  need to create a United States “national” music style which he felt should be based in the traditions of Native and African American folk music.  He was particularly impressed by spirituals.

My selection for today debuted in Birmingham (Dvořák was enormously popular in Britain as opposed to Austria-Hungary where he was widely viewed as subversive) about a year before his move to 327 East 17th Street.  The building no longer stands, having been demolished to make way for a Beth Israel Medical Center residence for people with AIDS over the objections of Czech President Václav Havel.