From my notebook…

A new word for my vocabulary, “smokeshow.” I heard it used in a Saturday Night Live skit on YouTube. Smokeshow is an attractive or hot woman.

I would classify myself as an “intellectual omnivore.”

I also strive to be an “autodidact Polymath.”

Looking for a Lebenskunsler: Master in the art of living…

marks: wrestling = trumpsters: politics

There are two checklists at or near retirement age. The first is what is also commonly known as a “bucket list.” These are things one wants to try, do or accomplish before they die. The second checklist writes itself, maybe appropriately termed a fuck-it list. These are things that one cannot do or try for physical, mental, emotional, or financial reasons. This list expands exponentially and generally is beyond our control.

The Affair
I was told of the affair
Which I was not aware
So I was not there
Given that I do not care

Excerpt from The True Meaning of Life by Pat Fleming
But how much I reached out,
To others when needed,
Would be the true measure,
Of how I succeeded.
And how much I shared,
Of my soul and my heart,
Would ultimately be,
What set me apart.

And what’s really important,
Is my opinion of me,
And whether or not,
I’m the best I can be.
And how much more kindness,
And love I can show,
Before the Lord tells me,
It’s my time to go.

Senescence Round 7

Regrets I have a few but then again too few to mention…
If I could enter a time machine that could take me back 55 years and with my current knowledge and life experience, I would still repeat 90% of my lifetime decisions and actions if I had the chance to relive them.

What convinces someone of the value of your judgement and advice is not by what you say but by what you have accomplished.

Sanskrit is more decipherable than an angry woman.

Most men pursue the second prettiest woman at a party.

The best parties often involve only two people.

Flirting, like intimate conversation, has become a lost relationship art.

Those who strive to impress the least, impress the most.

Caring what other people think of me is a blessing and a curse.

I’d rather be the underdog than the top dog.

What would cure many ills and problems is a good night’s sleep.

There is no antidote to grief except time. However time does not heal all wounds but masks like a scab to cover the pain.

My mind often creates an illusion that my body understands is just a delusion.

Picture by EAB

Best of South Jersey Dining

Most of the time when reviews or lists of restaurants and dining are written, the ones selected are at a very high level in terms of costs and formality. This is a lower brow list based on my limited budget and accessibility.

Best Bars and Casual Foods

  1. Blue Monkey, Merchantville NJ
  2. Ollie Gators Berlin NJ
  3. Rexy’s Audubon NJ
  4. Kaminski’s Cherry Hill NJ
  5. Dooney’s Delran NJ
  6. Vagabond Burgers Egg Harbor NJ
  7. Pat’s Cherry Hill NJ

Best Pizza:

  1. King of Pizza, Cherry Hill NJ
  2. Manco and Manco Ocean City
  3. Nick’s Cinnaminson NJ
  4. Carollos Pennsauken NJ
  5. Bertucci’s Mt Laurel NJ
  6. Tacconelli’s Maple Shade NJ

Best Hoagies:

  1. Jersey Mike’s Cinnaminson and Cherry Hill NJ
  2. Chick’s Deli, Cherry Hill NJ
  3. DiPascales at Meadowbrook Pennsauken NJ

Best Formal Restaurants

  1. Il Villaggio Cherry Hill
  2. Filomena’s Deptford NJ
  3. Iccara Italian Bistro Cape May NJ

Best Wings

Pronto Merchantville NJ

Best Diners

  1. Ponzio’s Cherry Hill NJ
  2. Pandora Cinnaminson NJ

Best Fast Food

  1. Bagelati Cinnaminson
  2. Chick-fil-A
  3. McDonalds

Best Mexican

  1. Plaza Azteca Sicklerville NJ
  2. La Cita Authentic Mexican Cherry Hill NJ

Best Japanese

Yokohama Maple Shade

Verbal drop shots

On Sunday, I actually watched more of the PPA Cincinnati tournament on Tennis Channel then I did pro football, including the Eagles game. What a huge difference in production value are pickleball games televised on Tennis Channel or CBS Sports network! I was pleased to see that both Tyson McGuffin and Simone Jardin won gold medals in their respective competitions. Both are being prematurely written off as serious competitors due to their age and the influx of younger players. I identify with older athletes trying to stay competitive and relevant.

I did notice that the Cincinnati crowd thinned out for the men’s singles final in Cincinnati. Possibly it was because it was a long day with five finals being decided and the men’s singles final was the last event of the tournament OR fans are just not that interested in singles competition.

I have heard some positive reviews from local players using the Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invitka. The paddle has a steep selling price of $250 but these players seem to think that the potential results and benefits are worth the cost. They feel it provides more “pop” to their drives and touch to their third and drop shots.

Professional pickleball has not yet developed any significant rivalries like Nadal vs. Federer, Evert vs. Navratilova, Cowboys vs. Eagles or Army vs. Navy. But it is coming. On court, I don’t have any “rivalries” but I do have people I use as “measuring sticks.” These are players whose skill levels are better than mine and I contrast how competitive I am to their game. My measuring sticks include both men and women who help me improve my game.

I really am enjoying the competitive level at Berlin Intermediate meetups. The styles of play vary and I was able to play a few games last weekend that focused on the soft game including third shot drops, cross court dinks and a more cerebral approach to shot selection .

Around The Post

Five Takeaways on the CBS Broadcast of The Sketchers International:
(2) Anna Leigh Waters / Leigh Waters vs. (1) Callie Smith / Lucy Kovalova
(2) Riley Newman / Matt Wright vs. (1) Ben Johns / Collin Johns

1. First network broadcast of pickleball. Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters showed why they are the #1 players in mens and women play. Excellent commentary by Morgan Evans. A great introduction to pickleball for newcomers and the general sports audience. Best selling point: quickness of the games; 10 second rule. Play occurs so fast that they weren’t able to show replays on some points.
2. I may have missed it but I did not see a commercial by Sketchers promoting their new pickleball shoe. What a missed selling opportunity! They promoted their walking shoes instead. Strange marketing move?
3. Who says that pros don’t lob? In both matches, offensive lobs were employed and were successful. Even at the pro level, one sees some confusion at covering and defending lob shots.
4. Ben Johns covers the court from net post to net post. I’m guessing he hit about 75% of the shots for his team. He dominates play. I’ve seen him play with Anna Leigh Waters and he seems to be more deferential to her play than his brother. (As an aside, I have seen a few guys in recreation mixed doubles play try this but not with the same results as Ben Johns and not with the cooperation/patience of their female partners.)
5. Ben Johns’s experience in playing table tennis is so evident by his hand speed and how deft he is at cross court dinks.

Sound of Music:
iTunes has music for pickleball. You can download an album titled Pickleball:Songs of America. However, here is my suggested playlist of hits titled suitably for a pickleball theme.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot Pat Benatar
Inka Dinka Doo Jimmy Durante
Let’s Stay Together Al Green
Play Me Neil Diamond
Games People Play The Spinners
Sultans of Swing Dire Strait
Fun, Fun, Fun The Beach Boys
As Good as I Once Was Toby Keith
It’s My Party Leslie Gore

Sound Off on Sound Offs

I enjoy hearing the following: the bounce of basketballs on a hardwood floor, the thud of a thrown baseball into a glove, and the crack of the bat against a pitch. There is a symphony of sounds generated within each sport. So I’m against efforts to reduce the thwacks of pickleballs by significantly modifying the pickleball or the paddle. A well hit smash or soft brush of the paddle for a dink have their own sounds that are part of the game.

Kitchen Komments

After playing outside so much this summer and ending the relentless heat and humidity, I am ready for fall weather. When the heat index is over 90, I feel like I am playing with 20 lb. ankle weights on each leg and a mask covering my mouth and breathing.

“It’s my belief that pickleball will be the largest participatory sport in the US eventually” – Bahram Akradi, CEO Life Time. A very bold statement made by a CEO but he is also putting his money where his mouth is by investing in building more pickleball courts at his facilities.

Let’s wait another 25 years before we begin to designate anyone as a GOAT (Greatest of All Time) in pickleball. Way too early…

South Jersey: Pickleball = Alabama: College Football

Serena Williams intends to play her last game competing at the U.S. Open Tournament in New York before retiring. When I’d play my last pickleball game, it would be at the courts at Browning Road in Pennsauken. It’s where I started and in many ways, it was where I had the most fun. Opponents to be named later. But I do know who I would want to be my partner…Cookie Sey.

Reading Between the Lies

If you’re smart, you believe half of what you hear. Brilliant is when you know which half.
Robert Orben

In my younger years I had a friend who was a great storyteller. He spun stories of his various adventures in travel, career and financial success and seducing women. His stories enthralled many a stranger or new acquaintance. My friend’s tales were entertaining and always showed him in a positive light. The sad part was that my friend was starting to believe in his stories. He could not differentiate between truth and fiction. He believed in his lies.

Lies and exaggerations are the verbal currencies of politics, business, advertising, culture and social media. The more outrageous and fanciful the lie or exaggeration, the more likely it is to spread and to be believed. Indeed, in politics, many campaigns spin fake news in order to stoke contributions and support.

Followers of professional wrestling are labeled as “marks.” Marks totally buy into the character branding of the wrestlers, the contrived storylines and rivalries and that the match results are not scripted. They have not understood that pro wrestling is entertainment, not sport. Great athletes performing choreographed feats of strength, agility, strikes and body slams.

Politics also has “marks.” They are known as “Trumpsters.” Donald Trump has worked with World Wrestling Entertainment in the past. He has participated in a Wrestlemania storyline and his casinos sponsored Wrestlemania events in the past. One of Trump’s Cabinet appointments was Linda McMahon who along with her husband Vince owned the WWE. January 6, 2021 was Trump’s political version of Wrestlemania. Trump promoted the event and his “marks” thought that they could overturn the results of a fair election process. Just like a “battle royale,” Trump’s followers battled Capitol police and even used not so hidden foreign objects just like “heel” wrestlers do to cheat in their matches.

George Washington purportedly said in his youth, “Father, I cannot tell a lie.” There is very little evidence that Washington ever said those words. It’s part of the myth around our first president. Sadly, no modern day politician could ever say that phrase with a straight face.

I have picked on politicians and their lies. However the business world is replete with lies, exaggerations and spin. One cannot trust the accuracy and integrity of quarterly corporate results, CEO guidance, product and service capabilities, mission statements and denials of corruption, regulatory malfeasance, sexual harassment and mismanagement.

Photo by Joshua Miranda:

Game within a game: How chess strategy mirrors pickleball strategy:

  • The ability to anticipate your opponent (and your partner’s ) future moves.
  • Developing a winning strategy based on your strengths vs. your opponent’s weaknesses
  • The judgment on when to move forward or retreat on a certain move (or shot).
  • The ability to “reset” when at a disadvantage.
  • Positioning chess (or court) positions to maximize advantage

Chessboard photo by Mike van Schoonderwalt-Pexels; pickleball picture by Eric Burleigh