(This is a short story I wrote for class when I was a senior in high school. My mom recently sent me a hard copy, so I scanned it for posterity.)


“… Under the sea, in an octopus’s garden, in the,” click. Paul McCartney’s voice ceased abruptly when Gary Moleski turned off the ignition of his car with a smile. He hadn’t heard that song in a while, and it brought back memories of his college days. He stepped out of his RX – 7 and walked across the driveway to the front door. After unlocking the several, sturdy locks, to keep the undesirables out, he thought with a chuckle, he entered his humble abode. His watch read 6:10, damn, this overtime is getting out of hand. He had been spending more time at the brokerage firm recently, because ever since George Waterby had quit, everyone had had more work. 

He walked through the living room, down the hall, and into the kitchen, stopping to gaze at the West Acres Garden Club plaques on the wall. He had won the “Best flower garden in the neighborhood” award four years straight, and was bound determined to repeat this year. Several of his friends called him “Green-Thumb” Gary, and his co-workers often hassled him about his fingernails, which were almost always stained with his rich top-soil. Gary loved his garden and generally spent every free hour he had in the spring and summer working in it. He felt that it was the best sort of exercise one could get without going to one of those fag spa places. Looking down at the spare tire growing around his waist, he knew that spring was coming none too soon. He was 40 now, and that tire grew bigger and faster every winter. Before too long, he realized, he wouldn’t be able to trim it off in the warmer gardening months. Guess I won’t be taking my shirt off at the beach much any more

After throwing a couple of Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas into the oven, Gary stepped out the back door to gaze upon his dilapidated garden. Well, it doesn’t look as bad as it did last year. Starting tomorrow, he was going to begin the process of recultivating his prize-winning yard. It was nothing especially large or extravagant, but the thickness of the grass, the intense, blood red color of the roses, the sun-bright daffodils, and the general vividness of all the other flowers were what always won the competition. All his neighbors marveled at this wonder, and asked what his secret was, but he would just smile and reply, “Just a little tender, loving care.” Actually it was his fertilizer. He had discovered the ultimate fertilizer, and cherished the sanctity of his secret. He would never tell anyone what he used; there was too much competition. 

Gary got up early on Saturday knowing he had a hard day’s work ahead of him. While fixing the same breakfast he always ate: Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, and a fried egg, he gazed out the window onto his lovely yard. I’m gonna need even more this year. Probably about 100 pounds. In the past he had used only about 60 – 80 pounds, but he felt that he needed even more this year to keep up with the growing competition. He wiped the last drop of sweet milk off his lips, and headed out to the car. He had second thoughts for a moment about acquiring such a large quantity of his special “flower juice” as he called it, because that made for much more spreading and digging. With a chuckle, though, he convinced himself that he needed more. It was more of a challenge.

He started his car and headed out to the Northridge Municipal Park, where he had found his secret. He parked in the large parking lot next to a beat up Dodge Duster and marvelled at the heat coming off the pavement. I hope I haven’t waited too long to start my garden this year. It’s gotten so warm so early. He knew though that it made no difference, because the almost iridescent colors of his garden were way out of the league of his jealous neighbors. He headed towards the swings and smiled at the laughing children. The sight of children playing always made him happy, as it conjured thoughts of working in the Shangri-la of his yard. Nope, too small, he thought as he headed towards the basketball courts. The big kids were playing on the nine foot basket, each one trying to impress the others with his dunks, while the younger ones were playing on the regulation size baskets. Kind of ironic, he thought, realizing that the older kids wouldn’t let the others play on the more fun courts. After a few moments he recognized 

Steven Lostop, his amiable paper boy. Steven was playing with the smaller kids, although he was bigger than most of him. Next year, he’ll be playing with the big boys. Gary went over and talked to Steve about how he remembered playing in the park when he was young, and about his paper bill for next month. Steve had been asking if any of his customers minded paying two weeks in advance, and Gary was willing. The kid probably needs a new bike or something. They walked back to the RX – 7 to get Gary’s checkbook, all the while chatting about people in the neighborhood. Gary was quite impressed with the kid’s composure and maturity. “Say, you’re gettin’ pretty big these days. What do you weigh now,about 90?” 

“My mom weighed me last week, and I was 98.” 

“Hey, you’re getting up there,” Gary chuckled as he fumbled around for his checkbook. Instead he found his monkey wrench. 

On Monday afternoon, there were no papers delivered in the eastern half of West Acres. If there had been, the people would have recognized the picture of their missing paper boy right on the front page. He hadn’t been seen since early on Saturday, and there were no clues. At the Bondurant Brokerage Associates office building, employees were chiding “Green-Thumb” Gary Moleski about his dirty fingernails again. 

It Is Time – Hanging It Up

Back in October 1997, Dean Smith tried to get motivated to start his 37th season as head basketball coach at UNC and found he couldn’t muster the fire.  Coaching is a hard job and requires immense amounts of commitment and intensity.  When it’s not there, you can’t fake it.  Coach Smith knew the signs and so retired.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not really comparing blogging to coaching an ACC basketball team, but like Dean Smith, I just can’t summon the necessary motivation to keep this thing going.  Life has stepped up around me – work, family, work #2 – and to compete with that and keep this blog as good (OK, nearly as good) as I want it to be would require effort I can’t provide.

I’ve known this for a while now but just couldn’t bring myself to write a coda.  I like this blog!  It’s been a lot of fun and while it didn’t turn out to be what I wanted, it did become more than I ever really deserved.  Even now, due largely to the bizarre workings of Google Images and despite the lack of any significant content in months, this site gets quite a bit of traffic.  Sure, it’s not really good traffic, but it still amazes me that so many people click over here, even by accident.

So, this is it.  Sure, I could find time here and there to write little posts about things I find interesting or amusing (like before and after pics of Ralph Friedgen), but I think it’s best if I just walk away.  Leave it as it is.  It’s really best that way.

The one thing I’m unsure about is my content.  What to do with it all?  Do I take it all down?  Leave it up there to collect dust and cobwebs like your grandmother’s attic?  I really don’t know what’s best.  For now, I’m going with “leave it up there,” but at some point I might have to rethink that.

Lastly I want to thank everyone who has ever read, commented on, emailed about or linked to one of my articles.  Those little nuggets of feedback, whether it was a whole blog post about what I wrote or just a counter-tick on my web stats, kept me going. 

Thank you.


(p.s. As a final gift to you, my readers – Sail With The Pilot!)

ACC Football Kickoff Linksplosion

You like that cheesy title?  I knew you would.  To continue my recent trend of providing ACC football previews without actually writing my own content, I give you three outstanding compilations of links from the ACCBasketBlog (they aren’t just for basketball anymore!).  I mean, why duplicate what they’ve already done?  There are enough links on these three pages to keep you busy for a week.  Granted, a lot of the stuff is duplicate content generated from the ACC Football Kickoff weekend, but still.  Read all of this and you’ll be ready to sound like you know what you’re talking about.


ACCBasketBlog Links I

ACCBasketBlog Links II – This Time It’s Personal

ACCBasketBlog Links III – Enter The Deacon

Guest Preview – ACC Football – Coastal Division

Last week I posted the first part of a guest preview of ACC footballMadduxSports.com gives us part II now – the Coastal Division

ACC Coastal Division Preview from MadduxSports.com

Defense, defense, and more defense, that is what the ACC Coastal is about. The Coastal is a rather interesting division to break down. Between quarterback battles, new coaches, coaches on the hot seat, national title contenders, and surprise teams, the Coastal division expects to offer many story lines in the 2007 season. Here is how the Maddux Sports college football picks team predicts the conference slate to pan out.

1) Virginia Tech – When you look at the Hokies’ defense on paper you have to be in awe. They return 8 starters from a crew that allowed 11ppg and 219 ypg overall. Both stats were good for #1 ranks in the country. From our preseason rankings Virginia Tech has the best secondary in all of College football. They also have a top 10 unit in the linebacking core, and although the DL has to replace 2 starters, 7 of the top 8 guys return. Bud Foster appears to be in line for another Broyles award at seasons end.

With a stout defense setting up for endless short field scoring opportunities, the offense won’t have to do much to win games. Junior quarterback Sean Glennon will be more of a game manager, being called upon to just not make silly mistakes. He will have an all ACC tailback in Branden Ore to help him out. Ore rushed for 1137 yards and took it to the house 16 times last year. Ore accomplished all of this while missing 2 games and running behind a below average offensive line. Five guys with playing experience are back on the OL so count on this unit being much improved. As long as the Hokies stay away from injuries and Glennon limits the mistakes, the defense should carry the team to the coastal division crown and possibly a national title appearance.

2) Georgia Tech – Even though the Yellow Jackets lose a four year starting quarterback in Reggie Ball and the College player of the year in Calvin Johnson, there is reason for optimism in Atlanta. Ball’s replacement is junior quarterback Taylor Bennett. Bennett has good size and a strong arm. He will be protected by one of the leagues best offensive lines that returns 4 of the 5 starters. Running behind that line will be tailback Tashard Choice. Choice is one of the most underrated backs in the country. In 2006 Choice rushed for 1473 yards and finished off the season with 7 straight 100 yard rushing games. On defense the Yellow Jackets return 8 players from a unit that was 27th in total defense. With an accommodating schedule we see Georgia Tech set to capture the 2 spot in the Coastal and should be a lock to reach their 11th consecutive post season bowl game.

3) Miami – The Hurricanes fired Larry Coker and replaced him with former defensive coordinator Randy Shannon. Shannon, like the Hurricanes, is looking to prove himself. If past results can be an accurate predictor of future performance, expect the new coach to be just fine. In the 7 years when Shannon ran Miami’s defense, the unit finished in the top ten in total defense 6 times. This year should be more of the same as he has plenty to work with. The defense returns 7 starters including future first round draft choice Calais Campbell. Campbell led all ACC defenders with 20.5 tackles for loss and racked up 10.5 sacks. The linebackers are the soft spot of the defense as the unit lacks a playmaker. Fortunately they will get plenty of help from the secondary that returns all 4 starters. The offense should make or break Miami’s season. There is QB battle going on between Kyle Wright and Kirby Freemen. A starter won’t be named until late fall but expect scoring to be back up in the high 20’s regardless which kid wins the job. The road schedule is brutal, having to face Oklahoma, Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Boston College on the road, but if Kyle Wright lives up to the can’t-miss potential he once garnered, the Hurricanes could reach double digit wins.

4) Virginia – After starting out the season 2-5, the Cavaliers finished with some momentum earning victories in 3 of their final 5 games. A big reason for the slow start and good finish was freshmen Jameel Sewell making good progress and showing nice potential as a college quarterback. Coming into last season Virginia had to replace 2 NFL draft choices, including D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Consequently, the offensive line was very inexperienced and labored to open holes for the running game. The unit also had trouble keeping opposing defenders out of the backfield and allowed 35 sacks for the season. This year the OL returns 6 players with starting experience and should be an asset instead of a liability. The defense is well-stocked, returning 10 of the 11 starters that allowed 17.8ppg and was 17th overall in total defense. Virginia’s defense is loaded and should keep the team in many tough ACC games. The Cavaliers are one of the most improved teams and will earn a post season bowl birth. Don’t be surprised to see Virginia occupy the 2nd spot if the ball bounces their way.

5) North Carolina – After a 1-6 start, coach John Bunting was canned. The team seemed to respond well to the change, playing competitive against 3 ranked opponents, then finished the season with two wins over NC State and Duke. Butch Davis is the man in charge to rebuild the program and with one of the highest rated recruiting classes in the country, he is well on his way. Bunting didn’t leave Davis with much talent, as only 9 starters return. Expect the new coach to try and play his guys making the team very young and raw. It will be a rebuilding year for the Heels, but anticipate them to be in a spot to challenge for the ACC Coast Division title in the not so distant future.

6) Duke – In seven of the last eleven seasons, Duke has failed to win at least one ACC game. Last season was more of the same as the Blue Devils took the doughnut in conference play and finished 0-12 overall. Although it should be noted that they were very close to upsetting ACC champs Wake Forest & national power Miami. It took a blocked field goal on the final play of the game for the Demon Deacons to hold off Duke 14-13. Against the Canes, Duke was intercepted in the end zone and just missed pulling off a momentous upset, going down 20-15. I don’t think either of those scares were aberrations and it wouldn’t shock us to see the Blue Devils win 2 games in 07. With 11 starters returning on offense and one of the ACC’s best QB’s Thaddeus Lewis (yes we said one of the best) Duke has closed the talent gap on the rest of the Coastal division foes. The problem is the schedule which could be the toughest in the entire conference. Is Duke Improved? Yes. Will it translate to wins? Probably not, but don’t be surprised to see the Blue Devils putting a scare into a team or two.

MadduxSports.com is an expert college football prognosticator but also knows the pro football teams well. For more predictions including weekly NFL picks visit Maddux Sports today.

I’m Back

Yawwwwn.  Strrrrrrrrrretttttch.  So, what did I miss?  Anything?


[Thumbing through the news of the last couple of months …]  OK, it looks like a few things happened while I was napping.  Guess this is as good of a time as any to shake off the cobwebs and get back to it. 


But not just yet.


First, I want to do a little self-promotion.  As you may recall from a previous post and that little box over there to the left, I have a little side-bidness called BrightCar.  Well, BrightCar has a big 50%-off sale coming up on Tuesday, July 24.  We are running a promotion in conjunction with a cool little site called Bits Du Jour.  BDJ(as the cool kids call it) is a site that advertises one software product per day at a drastically reduced rate, like a software version of Woot.com.  Well, BrightCar is going to be that product this coming Tuesday.


If you want in on this, and I know you do, you can either go to BitsDuJour.com, check out the coupon on the BrightCar site or just go to the BrightCar purchase page and enter BitsDuJour as your referral code.

The Good Side Of Coach K

Mike Krzyzewski takes a lot of grief from fans and media, much of it deserved, for being a bit of a pain in the ass. He can be arrogant, gruff and condescending – all common traits among the super-driven, but he can also be a hell of a good guy as well.
The Duke Basketball Report found an article from a small paper in Ohio about one of those times when K was an outstanding human being. He somehow heard about a family in Ohio who had recently lost their teenage son (a Duke fan) in a car accident. Krzyzewski tracked down the father’s cell phone number and, out of the blue, gave him a call. He followed that up with a box full of signed memorabilia that the family could use in an auction to raise funds for a scholarship in their son’s name.
It’s really a great story.

Black And White Zebras

The New York Times published an article yesterday about a recent study on the racial makeup of referees and their calls in NBA games. The study (you can read it here), done by two Ivy League economists, looked at data from 13 NBA seasons between 1991 and 2004. They broke down the racial makeup of the three-man referee crews in each game and using multivariable regression analysis, looked at how calls were made against white and black players.
My first thought about this was that it was a bunch of crap. How could they really account for all the reasons why players do or do not commit fouls? What about the superstars, most of whom are black, who tend to get the benefit of the calls? Well, then I read the article and found that they accounted for that:

The economists accounted for a wide range of factors: that centers, who tend to draw more fouls, were disproportionately white; that veteran players and All-Stars tended to draw foul calls at different rates than rookies and non-stars; whether the players were at home or on the road, as officials can be influenced by crowd noise; particular coaches on the sidelines; the players’ assertiveness on the court, as defined by their established rates of assists, steals, turnovers and other statistics; and more subtle factors like how some substitute players enter games specifically to commit fouls.

Continue reading “Black And White Zebras”

The Talent

USA Today put out a list the other day of the top 100 high school basketball players in the class of 2007. The first thing any ACC fan should notice with this list is the dearth of elite players headed to the ACC next year. Duke’s Kyle Singler is the only top ten guy and just four of the top twenty are headed our way. That’s not horrendous, but it’s not really up to ACC standards either.

The most obvious explanation for the drop in talent headed to the ACC is that UNC decided not to sign any 2007 players. Carolina routinely nabs a McDonald’s All-American or three and they just decided to pass this year. Carolina and Duke are really the only two ACC programs who get those kind of players year-in and year-out. The rest of the ACC usually lands a few more and that’s what happened here, with NC State signing #11 J.J. Hickson and Georgia Tech landing #19 Gani Lawal.

Another explanation is that there just weren’t very many seniors in the ACC this past year. Look around and you’ll see that a lot of the teams lost just a player or two. Of course, there are a lot of underclassmen who might be leaving, but it’s hard for coaches to anticipate that and recruit for those spots.

Back to the list, a breakdown by ACC school:
Boston College – 47. Rakim Sanders
Clemson – none
Duke – 6. Kyle Singler, 20. Nolan Smith, 29. Taylor King
Florida State – 39. Solomon Alabi, 68. Julian Vaughn
Georgia Tech – 19. Gani Lawal, 87. Maurice Miller
Maryland – 60. Braxton Dupree
Miami – 96. Julian Gamble
North Carolina – bupkis
NC State – 11. J.J. Hickson, 85. Tracy Smith
Virginia – 50. Jeff Jones, 80. Mustapha Farrakhan, 95. Mike Scott
Virginia Tech – 56. Augustus Gilchrist, 61. Jeff Allen, 70. Dorenzo Hudson, 88. Malcolm Delaney
Wake Forest – 52. James Johnson, 81. Jeff Teague

So actually, while there aren’t as many super-elite players as most years, the ACC is bringing in 21 of the top 100, or about one in five. Considering that there are six power leagues plus a few other programs like Memphis and Gonzaga, that’s not too bad.

It’s particularly interesting to see that the two Virginia schools are pulling in a total of seven top-100 players. That has to be a record for those two! Of course, all seven are in the bottom half (well, Jeff Jones – no not that Jeff Jones – is right at 50.).

Nash Vs. Starbury

The guys (guy?) over at the Georgia Tech Sports Blog have an interesting post about the joy of watching Steve Nash play and remembering when he faced off against Stephon Marbury in college. The comments on that game 12 years ago are great. Tech fans were just trying to figure out how good their new phenom was going to be and then he gets outplayed by some scrawny, no-name white kid who plays for Santa Clara. Of course, their fears were unfounded as Marbury ended up as one of the greatest one-year ACC players ever and of course, that scrawny white kid turned out to be pretty good too.

BTW, click on the link just to see Nash sporting a Hurley cut!