GARY D. GADDY
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Thursday, April 30, 2009
Suit filed against Chapel Hill nuttiness

CHAPEL HILL -- The Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) has filed suit against the Town of Chapel Hill, demanding that they "cease and desist all acts and activities which promulgate the use of the phrase 'another nutty Chapel Hill idea.'"  In its suit the PCA says that "another nutty idea" is its registered trademark phrase.

"While we acknowledge that Chapel Hill was having nutty ideas long before we were even incorporated, they never made the effort to protect that phrase as intellectual property.  We have," said Dean Kleinschmidt, an attorney representing the PCA.

The PCA suit does not demand that Chapel Hill cease having nutty ideas, merely that they "stop labeling them as such," Kleinschmidt added.

Peanut Corporation of America is a peanut-processing business founded in 1977 and headquartered in Lynchburg, Virginia, which was forced to seek protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 2009.

 

Court orders Gaddy on to NBA roster

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a rare adjudicated case of height discrimination, the United States Supreme Court today ruled that Gary D. Gaddy must be added to the National Basketball Association's roster of active players. 

Justice John Paul Stevens, usually a reliable liberal, penned the 8-1 majority decision in favor of Gaddy, who the court said was discriminated against on the basis of height, or, more precisely, heightlessness.

Former NBA great and University of North Carolina alumnus Michael Jordan filed a pair of large amicus briefs in favor of Gaddy.  "I did it because I was cut from the varsity my sophomore year in high school so I can empathize with the guy.  Just because I grew after that, and he didn't, it doesn't seem fair I'll be in the Hall of Fame and he'll never get a minute off the bench," said Jordan.

Chief Justice John Roberts said, "The statistical arguments were compelling, but it was Gaddy's loquacious phrasing that swayed the court. I especially liked: 'One Muggsy Bogues doth not a tendency make.'  That was sheer poetry."

Per court order, Gaddy has chosen to go to the NBA's Eastern Division's leading team, Cleveland Cavaliers.  Gaddy hopes to help the team at non-shooting, off-guard position.  Gaddy's salary will be the mandatory league minimum of $457,588.

Gary D. Gaddy, 58, is not to be confused with Abdul Gaddy, 18, who played in both the McDonald's and the Jordan Brand Classic all-star games for top-rated high school seniors this year. The six-foot-three-inch Abdul Gaddy, no relation, has signed a grant-in-aid scholarship with the University of Washington.

 

Madonna adopts Botswana

HOLLYWOOD -- Following widespread media reports that celebrity actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had adopted an entire orphanage in Zimbabwe, pop songstress Madonna has decided to adopt the country of Botswana.

Madonna, who was born Madonna Louise Ciccone in Bay City, Michigan and has two natural children, a daughter, Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon, and a son, Rocco John Ritchie, by separate fathers of differing ethnicities, was also quoted as saying, “Top that Octomom!”

 

Roy's instant oxymoron

CHAPEL HILL -- Language experts were stunned by comments made by Roy Williams following the April 6, 2009 national championship game. "Roy Williams and Dean Smith don't fit in the same sentence," Williams was quoted as saying.

A linguistic expert in UNC's Department of Linguistics, Morley Leslie says Williams is wrong.  "It is very common for sentences to have a compound subject, and sentences of that length or longer are hardly rare in modern English."

UNC's rhetorician in residence Lyle Sprecher says he thinks that Williams may have been speaking metaphorically.  "Clearly they will fit in the same sentence, since the sentence Roy used to say that they won't fit in the same sentence uses them both in the same sentence.  Perhaps he meant they shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath, but I don't know, because apparently he did not say what he meant.  Or vice versa," said Sprecher.

 

Gary D. Gaddy does not belong in the same bio line as Roy Williams except, maybe, one that says he doesn't belong in the same bio line. 

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday April 30, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:13 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:28 PM EDT
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Thursday, April 23, 2009
Fascists and free-speech fiascos

I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH news coverage it received, but on Tuesday April 14th, my wife and I attended an event on the University of North Carolina campus.  We came to be informed but the students were so loud often we could barely hear the person speaking -- even though when we were just few feet away.  It was a wonderful experience.

We were at the Undergraduate Scholarship Dinner, held to recognize UNC scholarship donors and recipients.  The happy noise was mostly that of undergraduates excitedly telling scholarship donors about classes they were taking, majors they were considering, planned summer jobs and internships, and where they hoped to study abroad.  Strange thing, students excited about learning.

Meanwhile, at the same time, we were missing an event over at Bingham Hall.  There former Republican congressman and one-time presidential candidate Tom Tancredo was trying to give a speech on his views on education and illegal immigration.  In short what happened is his talk never happened as he was shouted down, chanted over and bullied off the dais and out of town.

The protesters who did this think that Trancredo is a fascist.  Personally, I don't know – and neither does anyone else who hasn’t heard him speak or read what he has written.

Tancredo thinks these protesters are the fascists.  As he is quoted as saying afterwards, "A fascist is a fascist."  I don't know what else he might be right about but he's sure right about that.  Actions, in this case, certainly spoke louder than words from protesters' bullhorns ever could.

This event was not a "free-speech fiasco" -- as it has been termed by one newspaper -- at least not according to the primary organizer of the protest action, a UNC graduate student in Romance languages who heads the reincarnated Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

He said he regretted the broken window but not silencing Tancredo. "He was not able to practice his hate speech," said the student, who I will not name because I'm not contributing to his fame.

Despite SDS's post-event press release, I will say this is exactly what they hoped for. This is exactly how they operate.  This is, as they call it, direct action.  Getting police to "over-react" is part and parcel of it.

Before their protest, we knew the protesters were opposed to the lecture’s sponsors, Youth for Western Civilization.  After listening to their taunts ("Western civilization killed my ancestors"), we find out they are opposed to Western Civilization itself. And after watching their acts, we now know they are opposed to civilization altogether.

Another of their chants ("Yes, racists, we will fight, we know where you sleep at night!") makes that abundantly clear.

But I may be completely wrong.  UNC geography professor Altha Cravey is reported to have joined protesters in chanting the names of Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus.  Perhaps this whole event was a geography field trip.

Another protest banner said, "No dialogue with hate."  This, obviously, is really what they are about -- because they weren't listening and don't want anyone else to listen either.

Lizette Lopez of the Carolina Hispanic Organization deserves credit for vainly admonishing the crowd inside the hall to be quiet. "We'd like to hear what he has to say," she said.  "Honestly, we were the ones who had more at stake" than the vocal protesters, said Lopez, calling it "depressing" that freedom of speech lost the night. 

Chancellor Holden Thorp, you have said the right things -- now please act decisively to make sure the right things get done.  There are students, and maybe even faculty, who were at Bingham Hall who need to be suspended, expelled and even charged with crimes -- and lots of photos and videos showing who they are.

And, Chancellor Thorp, please respond quickly so that the students like the ones I was having dinner with still want to apply to UNC, and so the donors sponsoring scholarships still want to give their money to the University they still want to love.

 

Gary D. Gaddy studied at UNC's School of Journalism and Mass Communication where they teach their students how to think, speak and write, but not how to keep others from doing so.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday April 23, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:27 PM EDT
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Thursday, April 16, 2009
Airlift to stem EU population collapse

BRUSSELS -- In the wake of the crisis meeting of the European Union's Population Board, EU ministers have called on the United States to begin an emergency airlift of "population uncontrol" measures to the European Union's shrinking native populations.  European historians are likening the crisis to West Berlin's cry for food and medicine following the Soviet blockade in 1948.

In a unprecedented bipartisan agreement, the United States Congress voted nearly unanimously to fund and supply shipments of Viagra and oysters, which wil be air dropped using NATO aircraft, to key areas of thirteen European countries where native Europeans are at least still sizeable minorities.

"The logistics of the drops are key," said General James L. Jones, the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and the Commander of the United States European Command, who will head the mission, code named Operation Oyster, speaking from the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.

"If we inadvertently supply immigrant populations instead of actual Europeans we will exacerbate rather than ameliorate the problem. The way I read it that would be bad," said Jones.

"The latest demographic analyses are graphic: without outside assistance Europe as we know it will cease to exist within the next 50 to 75 years -- just a blink of the eye in the context of the storied history of 'old Europe,' which is, not uncoincidentally, becoming 'old Europe' even as this report is being written," Wolfgang Lutz of the Vienna Institute of Demography, a part of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

The EU Population Board is also calling for the Roman Catholic Church to take the unusual step of extending its ban on artificial birth control beyond its own adherents to "lapsed Catholics, unbelievers and infidels."  Although the Board says it recognizes that this measure may have limited impact, it feels it may help create "an uncomfortable atmosphere regarding birth control use among the general population," which it thinks may have some utility in increasing birthrates.

Air drops are necessary, rather than standard military truck convoys, demographics experts say, because of residential patterns in most European urban areas as well as the necessity of hitting remote rural areas.

"Most native European populations are essentially held hostage inside their old cities ringed by large complexes of subsidized housing filled primarily with immigrants, legal and other than legal," said Belgium's Louvain-la-Neuve University professor and demographer Michel Loriaux.

"As the French riots in 2007 showed, traversing these areas in land vehicles can be extremely hazardous," said Dr. Loriaux.

"It's funny how this whole thing has turned three sixty. The feared population bomb of the 1970's has turned out to be a dud.  Now the military that used to bring us wars as a primitive form of population control is being asked to use its bombers as storks flying in the babies," said demographer Loriaux.

The countries receiving assistance are Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

In an extremely rare instance of Franco-American military cooperation, the French will prepare the oysters for eating by sautéing them in a light sauce béarnaise. The French are also providing a supply of barrel fermented off-dry Chardonnay, which is nicely balanced and complex, and works well with Viagra.

 

Gary D. Gaddy was a German major in college who studied in Austria and has in-laws from Sweden.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday April 16, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:56 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 8:59 PM EDT
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Thursday, April 9, 2009
Oh that championship feeling!

A CHAMPIONSHIP, ESPECIALLY a national championship -- when the adrenalin wears off, when the euphoria recedes -- brings about moments of quiet reflection.  Such as, this Tar Heel senior class may have been the best UNC basketball has ever seen.  Maybe the best we will see. 

Such thoughts immediately turn our eyes to the key member of that class. Not to belabor the obvious, it all centers on Mike Copeland.

With the victory over the Michigan State Spartans, UNC senior forward Mike Copeland broke, quite aptly, Quentin Thomas' UNC record of 123 wins for his career.  During his stint at UNC, Copeland went 124-22.  (Oh, yeah, Bobby Frasor, Danny Green and Tyler Hansbrough also share the record with Copeland -- but not without him.)

Mike Copeland never made the honor roll on the court once the whistle blew, but he held honored roles just before it.  For his career Copeland averaged one point and one rebound in three minutes per game -- when he played --  but let us not forget that he was Danny Green's key "Jump Around" dance mate in the pre-game ritual that got the team loose before what were sometimes pressure-filled games.

He was also the slap-around guy who greets the team's starters as they were introduced before the tip off.  His playful manner and infectious smile made hard for any of the starters not to relax.  Even the stoic Tyler Hansbrough.

Bench players and practice players with good attitudes, like Quentin Thomas and Mike Copeland, really do help the chemistry of great teams.

Praisin’ Frasor, thinkin’ of Duke

I don't want our Duke-fan friends to feel neglected, to think we weren't thinking about them.  We were.  I went to a distinctly Carolina-blue Tar Heel championship viewing party.  Trust me, we were thinking about the Devils.

We even sang about them.  Before the game began, we sang "Hark the Sound," a cappella, no less. (Which was much more pleasant musically speaking than the extremely loud drunken karaoke that was going on in the background last weekend as my wife and I watched UNC in the regional finals in a bar in Ocracoke.)

But why would we sing of Duke?  Monday night was fun, but there was one game for Tar Heel fans, one in the last four years, that most would agree, was more fun.  National championships are glorious, no doubt, but one regular-season game three years ago may have been more pleasurable.

Bobby Frasor was the starting point guard in one of the most memorable UNC games in recent history -- national championships included.  That would be Freshman Night at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 4, 2006, when the freshman-dominated UNC team of Hansbrough, Green, Ginyard and Frasor (Copeland didn't make it into the game) outplayed, outscored and just plain beat the senior-dominated, number-one-ranked Duke team of J.J. Reddick and Sheldon Williams.  It was the first of four times that group of players beat Duke in Cameron.

Which reminds us of . . .

Prophets and their prophecies

As the Prophet Rasheed once said, "As long as Me, Touché and Jerry are here, we ain't ever losing here" (where Me refers to Rasheed Wallace, Touché and Jerry speak of Jeff McInnis and Jerry Stackhouse, and here indicates UNC playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium).

Well, according to sports writer Adam Lucas, 'Sheed's prophetic utterance came to pass.  Jeff McInnis was 3-0 at Cameron and 6-0 against Duke overall from (1993-94 until 1995-96).  Meanwhile, Stackhouse and Wallace were 4-0 against Duke including 2-0 at Cameron.

Finally, a news item . . .

NCAA grants Hansbrough fifth year

INDIANAPOLIS -- In an unprecedented action, the eligibility review committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association has awarded UNC senior forward Tyler Hansbrough a fifth year of eligibility to play college basketball.

"We estimate Hansbrough spent over one-fourth of his playing career on the free-throw line -- obviously not where he, or anyone else, wanted him to spend it," said NCAA spokesperson Jennifer Kearns.  "An extra year only seemed fair," she added.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, neither Tar Heel born nor Tar Heel bred, will be -- when he dies -- a Tar Heel fan.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday April 9, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:47 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, April 9, 2009 10:56 AM EDT
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Thursday, April 2, 2009
Why Jesus didn't say what he said

JESUS MAY HAVE SAID lots of things -- but we have no clue what they are -- at least that's what University of North Carolina religion professor Bart Ehrman's books say.  Dr. Ehrman is making quite a name for himself publishing books which contend, if you boil them down to their essence, that you can't trust the Bible, the New Testament or the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings.  

Why not?  Variant readings are the problem.  Now, I don't know much about variant readings -- but the New Testament is the best established document from ancient times -- by far.

If you cannot trust the New Testament to say essentially what it says, then we know nothing of any document from that time or before, nothing of Plato, Aristotle or Socrates  And you can kiss your Iliad goodbye.

Ehrman's skepticism has inspired me to write a book.  It says Martin Luther King, Jr., never gave the "I Have a Dream" speech.  You heard me.  Martin Luther King never gave the speech he delivered on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.  The crowd of 200,000 attending never heard it and hundred of millions of readers never read it.

I know because I read a scholarly article on variant readings of the "I Have a Dream" speech.  I actually did.  Does that mean it didn’t happen or we can’t know what was said?  Is that what you would think if there were no motion picture cameras at the event?  Not me.

If variant readings determine whether something was said then many popular sayings never got said.  If you don't believe in God, perhaps you do believe in Google.  Take any famous quote and put it into the Google search engine (in quotes so as to find the exact quote) and see what comes out.  Then vary the quote in simple but logical ways.  It is likely you will discover that what you thought was said never was said -- but people are quoting it.  You will also discover that many similar things apparently were also said -- according to someone.

You could do this for the words of Jesus but I think for fairness sake that we should go to another spiritual tradition and use the enlightened words of another great yogi.  I am thinking here, of course, of Yogi Berra.

Yogi -- supposedly -- said something about dining, or not dining, at a fashionable restaurant.  Now before you read on, try to remember the quote.  Write it down.  Now you may continue reading.

Here's what I thought Yogi said: "That place is so popular nobody goes there anymore."  But Google says, via the many interpreters of Yogi, that he said many similar things which have been quoted very many times, tens of thousands of times, but only three measly quotes agreed with me.  

I was about to lose my faith in Yogi when I started looking less carefully and more sensibly at his words. Despite the variant word orders, despite the variant punctuation, vocabulary and even spelling, one thing remained: the essence of Yogi.  In all of its garbled forms, the truth of Yogi remained.

And, you know what?  If we really cared to determine exactly what Yogi said, the first time he said it, if we cared as much as many have for centuries about the words of Jesus, we could.  For the words of Yogi, not many care.  For the words of Jesus, many have, many do -- and that leaves us with modern translations which are some of the most reliable historical documents known to mankind.

Ehrman’s new religion is an innovative synthesis of two divergent strains of religious thought -- that of the Pharisees and that of the Sadducees.  We have nit-picking legalism combined with a doubt and denial of almost any manifest reality of God.  Ehrman has done what Jesus could not do, bring these two together.

I don't know if I should say this, but I have prayed earnestly for Dr. Ehrman, because reading his books and watching interviews with him, made me sad -- sad for him.  He has lost his way -- and now he is looking for followers.


Gary D. Gaddy has a doctorate from the University of North Carolina, thankfully, not in religion. 

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday April 2, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:41 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 5:48 PM EDT
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Thursday, March 26, 2009
McCain-Palin sighted in Carrboro

CARRBORO -- The town of Carrboro has issued a special bulletin alerting citizens to be on the lookout for light-colored passenger vehicle, a late model foreign import, probably a Honda or Toyota, which was spotted in the parking lot of the Harris-Teeter grocery store next to Carr Mill mall with a McCain-Palin bumpersticker affixed to its bumper.

Responding to an anonymous report, Carrboro police entered the parking lot at 2:14 pm on Tuesday but found no vehicle fitting that description.  As a precaution, they sealed off the lot until 4:30 pm when they were confident that the vehicle was no longer on the premises.

The Chapel Hill Police Department and the University of North Carolina Police and Security have been notified of the sighting.  A spokesperson for the UNC Police and Security said that they felt confident that the car did not belong to a student, faculty member or administrator from the University.

"We monitor our on-campus lots carefully, and we are certain that we have not seen any vehicle matching that description," said Sergeant Bob Mellman.  The park-and-ride lots, however, are a "different story."  Since many campus maintenance workers and secretarial staff live in Chatham, Alamance and northern Orange County, "we can't say with any certainty that it wasn't one of them," said Mellman.

Citizens within the Carrboro town limits are asked to call the town hall if they see a vehicle matching this description.

Carrboro officials say that they are hoping that this report is an event similar to the one last August when a Toyota Prius with a Huckabee for President bumpersticker was seen outside the Open Eye Cafe -- which turned out to be a misguided prank by the embarrassed owner's teenage son.

***

Work on Obama National Monument halted

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The work on the foundation for the Obama National Monument has been halted as the team of architects and designers debate anew how tall the monument should stand.

With siting issues resolved -- the Obama National Monument is being built over top of the current Washington Monument -- the new debate is over exactly how much taller than the Washington Monument the ONM should be.

The Obama National Monument Fund is an offshoot of the National Press Club with fund-raising efforts being coordinated with the National Association of Broadcasters, the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the National Association of Newspaper Publishers.

***

Fed announces new U.S. currency

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- The United States Federal Reserve Board announced today that effective immediately, it will no longer honor Federal Reserve notes except in exchange for the new U.S. currency.  In an effort to counter the collapse of credit markets around the world and attendant falling currency values, the Fed has acted decisively to staunch the bleeding by declaring the NC Plenty to be the official U.S. currency.

Many currency exchange analysts expect the European Union to quickly follow suit.

***

Study shows fish do need bicycles

PALO ALTO -- A new study by Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station located in Pacific Grove, California and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California at San Diego shows that most members of most common fish species do need bicycles in order to traverse on land.

"The average fish out of water can only live 12 to 15 minutes unassisted.  Rarely can they move more than several feet by flopping about.  With a pedal-driven carbon-dioxide generator attached to their fin-adapted bicycles, however, not only can they live indefinitely out of water, but they can cross large expanses of dry terrain, perhaps as much as 100 miles -- which is incidentally the length of the bicycle portion of an Ironman competition," said Stanford's Dr. Pisca Studemeyer.

"The freedom that this creates allows any fish to act as what we call a Super Lungfish.  It is then able to live a normal healthy life on terra firma, and not be confined to purely liquid environments such as oceans, lakes, rivers and streams," said Prof. Studemeyer.

Scripps is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for marine and earth science research, education, and public service in the world.  Leland Stanford Junior University is an elite private multiversity located in Palo Alto, California.



Gary D. Gaddy owns a Prius without any bumperstickers at all and probably has 50 or more liquid-bound goldfish in his backyard goldfish pond.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday March 26, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:58 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, October 11, 2010 8:37 AM EDT
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Thursday, March 19, 2009
Commissioner for a day, at least

I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU but I have been watching way too much basketball lately -- which has the side effect for me of evoking my guy-like tendency to fix things.  (My wife says she is going to put this epitaph on my tombstone -- presuming, in a demographically accurate fashion, that I'm going to die before she does:  "I know how they could fix that.")

One good thing about American sports, with the exception of baseball (which is, I might note, not "America's sport" anymore) is that the powers that be tend to fix their problems as they arise.  (Usually arising as a result of the last fix -- but still they try to make the game meet what fans want in a game.)

So, if I were the grand commissioner of basketball, which I usually am in front of my own TV, these are some of the obviously wrong things about college basketball that I would fix.

But, first, let me describe a scenario on a basketball court, and you tell me what you are observing:  A player has the ball in his hand while a player for the other team is standing in front of him.  The first player takes the ball and throws it as hard as he can at the groin area of the second player, hitting him.  What have you just observed?   a) a flagrant and combative technical foul meriting loss of possession, two free throws and suspension from the game;  b) a felonious assault meriting active jail time;  c) Christian Laettner;  d) a great, heady basketball play, as universally noted by the media commentators.  The answer, of course, is c) and d) -- if Laettner was in the game and he was falling out of bounds.

That’s dodgeball, not basketball.  Why is such a play even legal, much less applauded?  Just because a player is about to commit a rules violation?  You got me.  Just in the last couple of seasons, calling a time out as a player falls out of bounds was ruled invalid.  Exactly why, I don't know, but perhaps because it doesn't seem like a part of the game of basketball?

Just this season in college basketball, they made throwing a raised elbow, even if no opposing player is struck, a violation -- not a foul, but a loss of possession penalty.  Likewise, I say, throwing a basketball at anyone should be illegal, even if you don't hit the player.

Officials watching TV.  How did we get to point where we spend notable amounts of time while supposedly watching basketball games, watching officials watching TV?  Now, the instant replay as it is used in football is acceptable, as long as it instituted where a coach challenges a ruling.

What on earth are we doing having officials review their own calls?  Call it a two-point shot, call it three-point shot, but don't have the officials going, "I don't know.  Do you know?  I'm not sure," then spending the next five minutes looking a TV monitor trying to decide.

Institute a coach's challenge, where within a restricted amount of time, say up to the end of the next dead-ball situation, the coach may call a timeout and challenge some rulings.  Specifically, he may challenge three-point/two-point shot calls or shots made as the shot clock or game clock expires (the things the refs tend to review now).  If the coach is right, he keeps his timeout.  Otherwise, play the game!

If I were commissioner, I would end forever, perhaps longer, scheduling basketball games in enclosed football stadia.  But, some dimwit might say, well, in a dome don't more people get to experience the game in person?  So, more people getting to have a bad experience is a good thing?  If you have never watched a basketball game in a dome, trust me, it is not a good viewing experience.  If you have, you are already giving me a high-five in your mind.

Want to know why Cameron Indoor Stadium is a really good place to watch a basketball game?  (If you are thinking, being in close confines with the Cameron Crazies, you're one sick puppy.)  A careful technical analysis of the visual and acoustical physics of the building structure and of the social psychology of the spectating audience makes the answer very clear:  it's small and crowded.  Big domes ain't.

I'll go to the special exhibit at the Museum of Life and Science if I want to see ants playing basketball.  Watching people play the sport is a lot more fun.  Know what good dome viewing experience is called?  Watching on the Jumbotron.

 

Gary D. Gaddy wishes there had been a coach's challenge when he made his personal-record third straight three-point shot in one intramural basketball game when  the lousy official said his toe was on the line.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday March 19, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:03 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, June 6, 2009 2:31 PM EDT
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Thursday, March 12, 2009
What it was was baskey-ball

YOU MAY REMEMBER last fall I gave up my regular column's space to my wife's cousin Bobo Herring from Traphill up in the Brushy Mountains so he could report to you on his visit to the UNC campus with his son, William Robert Herring III.  William had been offered a Morehead-Cain Scholarship and in the process of touring the campus attended an inter-collegiate football contest.  What follows is Bobo's report from a more recent visit to Chapel Hill to see his son who enrolled mid-year at the University.


Now, Willy Bob, excuse me, Willie-yum, had been a-askin' me to come on down to Chapel Hill if’n I was gonna "to continue to persist in my state of anxiety."  Now, I never said nary a word about bein' to no state of Anxiety.  Well, I been up to Virginny, and over to Kentuck and Tennessee, and that's about all the states I think I'll be needin' to see.

I did say I was plumb worried stiff 'bout the boy. Will'um said I should come down "to meet the Morehead fellows," then I wouldn't be worryin' so much.  I got my heart encouraged when Will'um said he was gonna take me to the holiest place in Chapel Hill.  I had a-feared that them evolutionists at the college had chased the fear a-God plumb outta him.

Anyway, Will'um took me over to this holy place.  It was what looked to be a great big old barn that had a revival tent up top of it that just about glowed.  Lotsa people was a-goin' in, so we did too.  Will'um said it wadn’t a church like I thought but there was gonna be a sportin' contest and they was a-playin' ag'in the Dukes of somebody.

While we was a-waitin' to git in this barn, I met one of them Morehead fellers who said he was a-studyin' eth-no-music-knowledgey.  What in Heaven's name that would be, I do not know, but after I picked a little banjar for him, he said I played "an authentic banjo."  I didn't say nothin', but my banjar says "Gibson" right on it.

It was a right funny place this Smithin' Center, if'n yer askin' me. It was all painted robin's egg blue, just like that Pope's box overlooking that pasture I visited last fall. Strangest thing was somebody had been a-hangin' their laundry way up high in them rafers.  Them boys musta be great big boys 'cause I ain't never seen skivvies the like of 'em.  And them boys better be tall 'cause they hung ‘em so high I'll be wishin' them the best a-luck on ever gittin' ‘em down.

In this here barn they was havin' a hootenanny, hoedown or something with a band the likes a-which I never see'd.  That band didn't have nary a fiddle, mand-o-lin or banjar in it but when ever that man waved his little stick at 'em, they started a-howlin' and 'bout blowed the top off that tent.  Will'um said some of 'em was playin' tubers, but all I ever saw was boys blowin' in big brass Victrolas.

Will'um had tolt me that "UNC was a divers place" with people from all over the whole world.  I don't know about that 'cause Will'um's friends all looked alike and right strange and as sickly as folk kin git.  They wasn't just blue in the gills, they was blue all over.  But they weren't ‘xactly actin' sick, 'cept maybe like Nadine Strocker's cow when it got into Uncle Verne's mash that time.  They were all jumpin' and whoopin' fer no good reason I could see.

Then all a-sudden they whooped even louder and I saw what boys who could reach that underwear down.  The tallest bunch a-young'uns I ever see'd came a-runnin' out from under them bleachers.  Ever'body cheered like Gabr'el done blowed his horn.

Then right after it some other big boys came a-runnin' out a-wearin' dark blue underwear -- but them Morehead fellers and their friends sure didn't like 'em, 'cause they commenced to a-booin' louder'n they cheered a-fore.  Why for, I asked?  Will'um said they was Dooky.   I told him I was gonna wash his mouth out.

Those convicts that I saw out in that pasture, they was back, they all had whistles in their mouths, and they just a-blowed 'em and a-blowed 'em and a-blowed 'em.  First time they went to blowin' 'em, it so they could throw that punkin up the air and them boys could fight over it.  Next time it was 'cause two had grabbed the punkin -- and they was wrastlin' over it.  Them convicts seemed right confused.

'Bout half the time them convicts blowed them there whistles, all the crowd would go to a-booin' and a-booin'.  I ain't heard nothin' the like since Lula Ann Murphrey got up in that congre-ga-tional meetin' and said she didn't much think covered dish suppers was worth the trouble.

Anyway, that punkin, when they throwed it down, it'd bounce.  I never did figger what this contest was all about but it seemed a lot like when youngsters play hot 'tater -- just throwin' that punkin 'round and 'round, nobody a-wantin' to keep it too long.

One little brown feller a-wearin' light blue, they kept yellin' "Tie" when he had that punkin, he was like a greased-up pig with his tail a-fire.  Couldn't nobody of them Duke boys even touch 'em, much as they tried.

Then there was this big ol' boy, pale as could be, and they kept yellin' "Tie-ler" when he had that punkin.  Them boys in that dark blue, they sure didn't care too much fer him.  All he did all night was git up off the floor where they knocked him.  You woulda thunk he woulda knocked them down too, but he wouldn't.  He just git up and go to that line they had drawed on the floor where none of them Duke boys could even touch him a whit.

Then that boy he’d throw that punkin up in the air at a big picture window.  It had what Will'um called a basket a-hooked to it.  It wadn't much of a basket.  Didn't have no bottom in it, and that punkin fell right out.

After this a horn went off, and all them people in the bleachers got up and ran down and jumped all over that map on the floor.  Seemed down right disrepectful to me.  Then that band started playin' ag'in, Will'um said somethin' about its bein' a song for "Alma's mother."  I didn't git it, what with harkin' and all, but I did like the part about bein' Tar Heel dead, but I thought it was plain rude to tell them Duke boys to go to hell, though I am expectin', since it says devil right there on their undies, they won't really be mindin'.

After a while, this man they called "Roy" came and talked into this big silver pinecone, and his voice came a-boomin' outta heaven like the voice a-God.  He said, "I wanna thank y'all for a-comin' out and a-cheerin' so doggone loud."  It was 'bout only time I was down c'here I heard somebody a-talkin' plain so a body could understand 'em.

Then a whole passel a-boys came and talked in the pinecone too.  I couldn’t git much a-what was said, but them Morehead fellers kept on a-laughin'.  Finally, that big tough Tie-ler feller came out and cried like his best dog had died or somethin’ and most ever-body cried with ‘em.

When he stopped a-cryin', Will'um and them other young'uns headed out of there like a herd a cattle out of a burnin' barn.  And they just took me a-with 'em.  Next thing you now there's even more people and we're on Frankin' Street, whoopin' and hollerin' the like I ain't heard since I went to that Pentycostal tent revival over'n Boomer.

It wadn’t very cold but they started a campfire anyway.  They didn’t cook nothin’.  It was so crowded up that some them boys jumped across the fire just to git where they was goin’.

After most ever-body had left, I saw Will'um a-talkin' to one them dancin' girls.  Up close, you know they ain't nearly as lanky as I thought.  Fact, I'm a-thinkin', a passel of them and a passel of them big baskey-ball boys, I'll could git the work done 'round my farm in a wink and twinkle.

Fer sure, they'd be better'n Will'um ever was, who was always up in the hayloft with some book thick as Uncle Lester's head.

In any case, after I saw that sweaty dancin' girl a-kissin' Will'um on the cheek, I got a notion why Will'um why he’s a-likin’ his time down c'here.  I ‘spect he’ll be stayin' fer a while and goin’ to that gran-u-late school in phil-o-soph-i-cal-ness he’s been talkin’ so much about.


Gary D. Gaddy, whose wife is from Wilkes County, does know actual people from Traphill.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday March 12, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:07 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, March 16, 2009 8:21 PM EDT
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Thursday, March 5, 2009
Spittin' distance down Tobacco Road

THE FORMULA FOR A RIVALRY is quite simple:  The intensity of rivalry is multiplicative, combining the inverse of distance times density times elevation times frequency.  This equation explains why the basketball teams of Duke University and the University of North Carolina are such great rivals.

Let us decompose the rivalry equation into its constituent elements:  Rvlr = 1/dist * dens * elev * freq

First, geography determines intensity: The physically closer the rivals, the greater the rivalry.  Duke and UNC are just spittin' distance down Tobacco Road from each other.  If you listen to the various TV commentators, Duke and UNC are seven, eight or ten miles apart, but according to the Maps of Google, they are 11.2 miles by car, 9.8 as the crow flies.

Or, to use a measure of sociological and psychological distance, as Mike Krzyzewski once said, "We use the same dry cleaners." 

In their general geographic area, Chapel Hill-Durham, fan density is very high -- almost everyone is a fan of one team or the other.  If you are a foreigner to these lands, from say El Salvador, Sierra Leone or New Jersey, pick an allegiance.  Otherwise both sides will detest you, you coward!  (That’s why I respected the guy in the turban on the risers at Cameron almost as much as I love the young woman in the Carolina blue headscarf in the end zone at the Dean Dome.  My kind of people.)

Other great rivalries, such as the Big Five in basketball in Philly (Penn, Temple, Saint Joe's, Villanova and La Salle) are all in one city but the density of the fan base is divided and diluted by many other loyalties including the NBA's 76ers.

The mutual elevation of our rivalry is dizzyingly high, especially in men's basketball.  According to Wikipedia, for the last 123 meetings either Duke or UNC has been ranked in the AP Top 25.  The last time neither was ranked by any major poll: February 25, 1955.

For women, lately, it has been about as good.  Since 1992 UNC has been ranked in one poll or the other every year but two, won a NCAA championship and made three Final Four appearances, finishing in the top five the last four seasons.  Meanwhile, since 1992 Duke made four Final Four appearances, two in the championship game while recording an NCAA-record seven-straight 30-win seasons.

As to frequency, both the men and women, in basketball, have played twice a year, at minimum, for decades, often playing again in the ACC tournament, and meeting soon, I hope, in the NCAA’s as well.

As a result of these combined forces the Duke/UNC rivalry is so intense that I calculate that the center of the college basketball universe lies somewhere near I-40 not far from 15-501.  There oughta be a monument or plaque or something there, don't you think?

***
How not to insult your rival

Speaking of spittin' distance, while attending last Sunday’s Duke-UNC women's basketball regular-season finale in Cameron Closed-to-the-Elements Stadium, an avid Duke fan was sitting just across the aisle from me.  (How avid, you might ask.  Well, he had his own scorecard and was making his own boxscore.  That avid.)

At one point he screamed, "Sylvia, sit down!!!"  (UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell was at the time standing to protest another bad call by a chubby little official.)  This is proper fan behavior.  I do it all the time.

But then Mr. Scorekeeper, as Hatchell, attired in a classic black pantsuit, signaled a play to her team with a Churchill-esque, two-hand signal in which she raised two-fingers in a "V for Victory" fashion, yelled, "She looks like Nixon."  This is not proper.

For a fan of the Devils, conjuring up the ghost of Richard Nixon is not proper -- as I helpfully whispered to the more sedate Duke fans sitting behind me.  (I said nothing to Avid Fan as he had a sharpened pencil in his hand and I have spent time in the Duke University Medical Center emergency room on a weekend.  It was not a pleasurable experience.)

Here's why it's not proper.  Like my lovely and talented wife Sandra, Richard Milhous Nixon graduated from Duke University School of Law.  Unlike my wife, the experience molded him forever.

In my wife's case, it did not taint her.  Case in point:  She will stand in Cameron or Wallace Wade wearing beautiful sky-blue attire and cheer for her beloved Tar Heels.  Conclusive datum:  Since graduating from Duke -- in the same law school class as the very annoying former Duke basketball player Quin Snyder -- Sandra has taken up banjo pickin'.

As to Mr. Nixon's case, I will allow him to speak for himself: "And I always remember that whatever I have done in the past, or may do in the future, Duke University is responsible one way or the other."  As I said, Nixon is not really someone, I would think, you want to be bringing up if you are a Duke fan.

 

Gary D. Gaddy lives in Orange County, 4.2 miles from the center of the college basketball universe

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday March 5, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:48 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:20 PM EDT
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Thursday, February 26, 2009
Neutered Dictionary's release postponed

CHAPEL HILL -- The University of North Carolina Press announced today that the scheduled release of "The Roy Williams Dictionary of Neutered Synonyms:  Inexplicit Interjections, Adjectives, Adverbs and Gerunds" has been pushed back until late summer while the work undergoes a major revision.

Recent events have inspired UNC head men's basketball coach Williams to add a new appendix to the planned volume, "Expletives Undeleted: An Unabridged Compendium of Excited Utterances."

In a release to the media, UNC Press described the origin of the proposed work: "Besides being one of the best coaches in college basketball, the erudite Roy Williams is also an acknowledged expert on the use of euphemisms in the Southern American dialect.  Williams received his bachelor's degree at the University of North Carolina in education, and then gained a master of arts in teaching.  But his primary academic interest is in the linguistics of vernacular language, a subject which Williams is not only an avid student but a polished practitioner."

UNC Press further indicates that "The Williams Dictionary goes beyond being a comprehensive collection of euphemistic terms, also providing an innovative scheme for classifying neutered terms."

Some summary selections from an early review copy of The Williams Dictionary give insight into the Williams system as well as the format of the work.

The Rear End Collective Noun Class.  Major terms: butt, can, hiney, back end, tail end and rear end.  Typical usage: "We sure didn't play our rear end off."

The Dang Adjective Group.  Major terms: durn, dern, darn and dang, as well as their derivatives such as dagnabbit, galldurn and doggone.  Typical usage: "We played right galldurn well."

The Heck Noun and Adjective Group.  Major terms: heckuva, helluva and heck.  Typical usage: "It's a heck of an ACC race. So we've got to play a whole heck of a lot better.  This sure has been one heck of an interview."

The Freakin' Adjective Group. Major terms: friggin', frickin' and freakin'.  Typical usage: "You may not think so but I think it's one big freakin' deal."

Book trade insiders say that most of the major revisions to the work will be made in the Freakin' Group.

The delay by UNC University Press is not unexpected as UNC Press had been hesitant to publish another book by a men's basketball coach since the release in 1990, to notably thin sales, of Dean Smith's Jokester's Jokebook.

The working title of the revised Williams book is said to be The Roy Williams Dictionary of Neutered Synonyms -- Now with Actual Obscenities!  The expanded edition will include a special preface by Duke Coach Michael Krzyzewski entitled "*&^%$*(*!!: A Typographical Introduction to Non-Euphemisms."

***

Carrboro High renamed

CHAPEL HILL -- In what supporters are calling "an effort to move toward post-partisan politics,"  the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Board of Education voted five to one on Wednesday night to rename Carrboro High School as George W. Bush High School.

The school board was quick to assert that their action was not a response to the recent renaming of the former Ludlum Elementary School in the Hempstead Union Free School District on Long Island, New York, to Barack Obama Elementary School.

"Naming schools after presidents is not a new idea.  We used to have a Lincoln School in Chapel Hill, I would like to point out.  He was an unpopular Republican too, you know?" said Board Chair Eloise Strictly.

"While we don't necessarily agree, as some have argued, that naming a school after President Obama essentially at the moment he took office is premature, we are sure that it is not too late to honor just ex-President Bush.  We only wish we could have done this sooner.  January 20th at 12:01 pm would have been perfect,” said Strictly

"After watching even just a few days of the Obama presidency, we are beginning to appreciate how difficult a job the president has," said Strictly.  "In a way, this naming of Carrboro High to George W. Bush High School is a means of making up for the constant criticism that was aimed at him.  I hope he accepts it in the spirit it was made," added Strictly.

The one dissenting vote came from Board Vice Chair Mark Kenney who thought that Bush/Cheney High School "would make a bolder statement" and would recognize more clearly the unique co-presidency of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney.

 

Gary D. Gaddy is married to a fourth-career banjo picker from the foothills of the Brushy Mountain region who translates Roy for him, when necessary.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 26, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:54 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:03 AM EST
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Thursday, February 19, 2009
Extending love to those in pain

AS A CHRISTIAN IT IS MY DUTY to aid the afflicted, to comfort those suffering hardship and to extend loving care to those in pain.  So, in this season of need, I am thinking, this would have to be Duke fans.

My Tar Heels and I have not been doing a good job of that lately.

And I have an awkward habit of making friends with those who bleed dark blue -- which this past week would be pretty close to literally true for every fan of the Blue Devils.

Sandra and I were in the Dean Dome to see the Lady Tar Heels play their Blue Devil counterparts a week ago Monday.  We were sitting right behind the Duke bench and right in front of the Duke visitors section.  A couple of days after the game, I played doubles with my regular Thursday night tennis group, the Choir Boys (so called because in the original foursome one of the players could only play on Thursday night since that was his wife's night for choir practice).

One of the Choir Boy regulars, "Doc" I’ll call him, who is a Duke graduate, Duke employee and Duke men's and women's basketball season ticket holder, asked me if those were our regular seats.  Unbeknownst to us, he and his wife had been sitting behind us.

The next while consisted of me rummaging through my mind, asking what I might have said or done they might have observed. "I wonder if they heard me yell, 'Abby, shoot, you're open!'," I mused.  (Duke guard Abby Waner was about one for ten at the time, and has an odd habit of shooting from farther and farther away from the basket the worse she is shooting.)

I am also pretty sure that they couldn't hear me when I asked some Tar Heel fans sitting behind us -- after the Devils had lost their halftime lead and their fans their volume: "What happened to the Devil fans?  Did they all suddenly get laryngitis?"  (After trailing by two at the half, the Lady Heels won by 15 points.)

Then, a week ago Wednesday, I made a tactical error, going to a 7:10 pm movie in downtown Durham on the night of The Game.  And in doing so, I ended up observing the Gentlemen Tar Heels against the Devils from Durham in the second worst place on planet earth (including Tierra del Fuego), Satisfaction, the bar in Brightleaf Square where Coach K holds his weekly radio show. 

I tried to be inconspicuous, but in that den of dark and dismal blue, my movie-viewing friend Terry and I were pretty obvious as we wore a more pleasant shade of blue.  So I made small talk with an apparent Duke fan next to us; and I tried not to hop up and down too much when the Heels scored.

I told my erstwhile Duke fan friend at halftime, I thought that the Heels would lead before the game was over, even though they trailed by eight.  I also found out why he seemed so civil:  he was a Navy guy on a fellowship at Duke, not really of the Devil, just visiting.

Before the game was over the few, maybe 10, Carolina blue fans ended up in a little cluster.  Among us was a twenty-something woman wearing a replica of Tyler Hansbrough's jersey.  I later told her, "I soon as I saw you, I knew I was in love."  (Don't worry.  My wife understands this is purely play-tonic.)

After the game was over with the Tar Heels scoring 101 points and winning by 14, the light blue crew sang "Hark the Sound," led by a Carolina-grad son who was there with his life-long-Duke-fan father.

At that point a Duke clad twenty-something woman came over to tell us all how she had watched Duke-Carolina games in Chapel Hill and had "never acted like you are doing" -- then added she was “embarrassed by our behavior.”

As best I could observe, "our behavior" consisted of cheering (and singing) for our team.  At the time I said nothing to her, remembering the words of the Air Force chaplain who was the guest speaker at our church a few weeks ago:  "Don't criticize someone else until you've walked a mile in their shoes -- because then you'll be a mile away -- and they won't have any shoes."

Now safely back in Orange County, I realize that if she had the chance to lecture the Cameron Crazies on fan decorum -- or spelling – she surely would have pointed out to them that "D-U-I" is not a really the best serenade for M-V-P candidate Ty Lawson -- unless they really want him to demonstrate his driving skills.

Gary D. Gaddy attended grad school at UNC from just before Al Wood's senior season until just after Michael Jordan's sophomore year.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 19, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:24 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:02 AM EST
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Thursday, February 12, 2009
A pop quiz for my quizzical readers

PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS ASKING ME, "What do you do?"  Well, people, I'm not paid to take your pop quizzes.

One good thing about being a Local Voices writer is that I can give quizzes, and if you, dear readers, wish to remain my dear readers, have to take them.  (You must admit, I am more decent about this than the Educational Testing Service, at least I don't charge you to be tested.  In that way, my quizzes are less like the Graduate Record Exam and more like the STD tests at the Free Clinic.)

First, let me note that people, in general, say that they hate quizzes, tests and exams and such.  For example, don't ever expect your teenager to get up one Saturday morning saying, "Oh boy!  Today I get to take the College Boards!"  If she does, please call 911 immediately.  She has probably overdosed on something.

And if you are a teacher don’t expect unexpected testing will be without consequences – to you.  In my experience, nothing will lower your students' teacher-evaluation scores of you faster (including being a really, really bad teacher) than giving regular "pop quizzes."

But, as previously noted, you don't get to evaluate me.  So, here's my pop quiz for you.  Take it or leave it.

1)  Speaking of pop (that is, music of general appeal to teenagers; a bland watered-down version of rock 'n' roll with more rhythm and harmony and an greater emphasis on romantic love), since Alanis Morissette’s hit song "Ironic," which is supposedly about how ironic life is, gives examples of irony which aren't ironic, would that make the song:  a) Ironic b) Un-ironic c) Moronic d) One of my favorite songs.

2)  Define "pop out," as in the statement, "When the shirtless UNC student saw Ashley Judd standing in the Smith Center bleachers next to him, his eyes popped out."  a) Protrude b) Bulge out c) Bug out d) Come out e) All of the above.

3)  Where you grew up, what did they call sweetened, carbonated drinks?  a) Soda b) Coke c) Pop d) Dope. Your answer tells where you are from. If you said Coke, the South; if you said pop, the Northcentral; and if you said soda, the Northeast, or California or, oddly, the greater St. Louis area.  If you said you called them dopes, you are from a southern town such as Danville, Virginia, where dope wagons traveled through the textile mill bringing snacks and drinks -- pronounced "dranks."  (Click on the map at popvssoda.com for a more spatial view of the pop versus soda world.)

4)  What is the problem with the following logical proposition?  "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"  a) The premise b) The inference  c) The conclusion  d) The absence of a fixed time frame e) The woodchuck.

According to New York State wildlife expert Richard Thomas (in an article in the prestigious Wall Street Journal), a woodchuck, also known as a groundhog, could chuck around 35 cubic feet of dirt in the course of digging a burrow.  Thomas reasoned that if a woodchuck could chuck wood, that is, toss it, he would chuck an amount equal to 700 pounds – in the period in which a woodchuck can dig a burrow.

5)  While we're on the topic of groundhogs, in the bluegrass classic "Groundhog," groundhogs are also referred to as whistle-pigs.  Why?

Answer -- according to the Animal Diversity Web, an online database of animal natural history, distribution, classification, and conservation biology at the University of Michigan -- "woodchucks (Marmota monax) are very vocal mammals, hence the name whistle-pig.  When alarmed, a woodchuck gives a loud, shrill whistle.  Teeth grinding and chattering are common when woodchucks are cornered.  Woodchucks have also been heard to bark, squeal, and whistle when fighting with other woodchucks."

6)  Next a sub-quiz quiz, The Official Roy Williams Sports Quiz, in which you mix and match occupations with the appropriate sportsman's name.  Occupation: I) Safety for the Dallas Cowboys II) Wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys III) Men's basketball coach for UNC.  Name: a) Roy Williams  b) Roy Williams c) Roy Williams.  (Answer key, I-c, II-b, III-a)

7)  Finally, if this is a rhetorical question, do you have to answer it?  a) Yes, but then it wouldn't be rhetorical so I guess the answer would be:  b) No, but then it would be rhetorical so I guess the answer is a) Yes, I guess.

Gary D. Gaddy actually got very good scores, by some methods of accounting, on his SATs and GREs, and passed this pop quiz with flying colors.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 12, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 5:21 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 12, 2009 5:29 PM EST
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Thursday, February 5, 2009
I saw (or heard) it on the sidelines

MY WIFE AND I  have really nice season tickets for the UNC women's home games.  So good, sometimes we can't see the game.  Like when the opposing coach stands up to yell at his team.  Yep, seats that good.

Unfortunately, that means at times I can hear what he (or she, but mostly he) is saying.

For example, University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma yelling something at one of his players that I will not repeat, so loud that sitting behind him, 30 feet away, I could hear it clearly over the crowd noise -- and I'm about half-deaf.

My thought is that if there is anything a player can do which will make the coach scream that he wants God to do that, that coach really doesn't deserve to have players, much less ones as good as he gets.  His team was handily ahead at the time.  I can't even imagine what he says when they are behind.

But now I remember.  When UNC’s women played UConn in Storrs in 2005 and UNC was blowing them out of their own gym (77-54 final) -- after Auriemma literally quit coaching, something I have never seen any coach at any level do -- he was still yelling: "I don't even know why I recruited you." 

Why would anyone accept a scholarship offer from this jerk?  And why would anyone be fan of a team coached by him?  Lots of wins, I guess.  Personally, I'll take Dean, Roy or Sylvia -- any day.

Butterball at the RBC

Not that I would tell a land-grant university to look a gift horse in the mouth (that would be under the purview of the policy makers in their veterinary school), nor should I, I suppose, tell NC State to refuse any agriculturally related cooperative partner, but Butterball doesn't really seem like the best corporate sponsor for a Wolfpack team that leads the conference in turnover margin.

It's a double double

The Paris twins, now there's a double double.  The daughters of William "Bubba" Paris, who played offensive tackle in the NFL, both play basketball for the Oklahoma Sooners.  As you might expect, they's big girls.  Ashley is good; her sister Courtney is great -- with one of the most unapproachable records in all of sport.

Courtney just had her streak of double doubles, that is, consecutive games with ten or more points and ten or more rebounds, end.

Before I tell you her record, let me give you an idea of how incredible it is.  UNC's National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough had 35 career double doubles in his first three years at UNC.  Not in a row.  Total. 

The second place streak among women is held by Anne Donovan.  She has 19.  UNC's remarkable Billy "The Kangaroo Kid" Cunningham has the longest streak among the men with 40.   Courtney Paris' streak was halted at, you count 'em, 112.

They're not booing

Don’t be confused it your team does something good and the fans start booing.  Listen closely:  They're not booing they're saying . . . . Well, it depends on which game you're watching.

For example, this season, while watching the Tar Heels, they weren’t booing, they were saying Bruce, for hard-hitting outside linebacker Bruce Carter.  In seasons past, they weren’t booing they were saying Spoon for Brandon Spoon the hard-hitting middle linebacker from Burlington.

If it’s the Panthers, it’s Hoov for longtime fan-favorite hard-hitting fullback Brad Hoover, or Moose (or perhaps Muhs) for the once and current, and hard-hitting, wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad.

Top 10 Reasons

I said I wasn’t going to the 2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament.  My brother-in-law asked simply, "Why not?"  I gave him these 10 reasons:

10.  Costs money -- way too much money.
9.   Don't care at all for Hotlanta.
8.   Far too far to be a nice drive.
7.   A bit too close to fly in an airliner and really save any time.
6.   Don't even want to imagine the conversation that starts,
    "Well, we could fly down with your brother Lee in his little airplane."
5.   Too many games that I couldn't care less about.
4.   Might end up a hotel with Duke or State fans.
3.   Would like to conserve my energy for the NCAA tournament.
2.   Ol’ Roy don't care if we win it; I don't care neither.

And the Number One reason I don't want to go to the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament:
    I never want to watch a basketball game in a football stadium ever again -- ever.

 

Gary D. Gaddy plans on attending the 2009 ACC Women's Tournament because it's a pleasant drive to a nice basketball arena with good seats for cheap prices, and Sylvia cares, the team cares and so does columnist Gaddy.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 5, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:56 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 11:19 PM EDT
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Thursday, January 29, 2009
The long and the shorts of it

ONCE, WHILE WATCHING A UNC MEN'S BASKETBALL GAME circa 1996, I wondered if we would ever see basketball "shorts" any larger than those worn by Serge Zwikker who stood 7-foot-3-inches tall.  Since his "shorts" were the size of a small planet, I figured about then that they would soon start shrinking.

(By the way, according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Serge currently plays in the Apex, N.C. Parks and Recreation Adult Men's Basketball League and participates in triathlons in North Carolina in the "Clydesdale division.")

But I was watching a game the other night and realized, the shorts, well, they haven't receded yet.

I can understand.  Not shorts the size of circus tents.  Not oversized culottes for men.  I still don't understand those.  But non-short shorts do seem like a reasonable proposition.

All you have to do is go to ESPN Classic and watch the replay of the 1983 national championship game (which is pretty much on continually -- no doubt to gall NC State fans with glories passed on by)  and you will agree.  Those shorts were too short.  It's embarrassing to look at them much less to wear them.  Nothing could be any more frightening.  OK, there may be one exception.

 

A brief history of the unitard

From The Washington Post, January 7th, 1989:  "When North Carolina State's Wolfpack steps onto the basketball court today in Raleigh, N.C., in a nationally televised game against Temple, fashion history will be made.  Coach Jim Valvano's team will be attired in basketball's first skin-tight, one-piece uniforms. The unitard debut, however, may not be as thrilling as it sounds. Those sexy suits will be covered by little shorts."

"To be frank," Valvano said, "it seemed a bit too revealing."  (Google Google Images “unitard” if you don’t believe Coach V.)

From GoPack.com, a listing under "NC State Men's Basketball History of Success" (from which I conclude that GoPack thinks the unitard was a success):  January 7, 1989 -- Always looking forward, Wolfpack head coach Jim Valvano unveils the uniform trend of the future, the unitard.

The unitard is a one-piece, skin-tight uniform, but the Wolfpack players opt to wear the new uniform under the traditional basketball shorts.

GoPack says the team dropped “the new look” after just two games.  My memory is that they dropped them at halftime of one game.

Anyway, my pet theory is that Woollen Gym, or at least their famous shorts, are to blame for short short lengthening.  It is my take that Michael Jordan got this whole shorts growing unshort phenomenon going.  But why?  Perhaps so he could wear his Woollen Gym gym shorts underneath them.  Why he did that, God only knows, so you'll have to ask Michael.

Until you get that opportunity, this exchange, from the critically acclaimed Looney Tunes cartoon Space Jam, however, may help.

[Michael Jordan needs someone to get his basketball gear]

Michael Jordan: Don't forget my North Carolina shorts.

Daffy Duck: Your shorts?  From college?

Michael Jordan: I wore them under my Chicago Bulls uniform every game.

Looney Tunes characters in unison: Eeewwww!

Michael Jordan: I washed them after every game!

Looney Tunes characters in unison: Yeah, okay.

Michael Jordan: I did!

And, by all reports, he did.  And from there shorts inflation is simple: everyone wanted to "Be like Mike."  Although they could not all steal handsome gray gym shorts from Woollen to wear under their regulation shorts, they could wear shorts so large it looked like they had.

 

Oh-for-Eternity Streak continues

It's my favorite men's basketball game of the year -- in the years in which it is played.  (Don’t get me started!)  The game is Clemson in Chapel Hill.  The Oh-for-Eternity streak.  They haven't won here ever.  Ever.

Anytime a Tar Heel fan starts to say something derogatory about Matt Dougherty, I tell them two things.  He recruited the players that won the 2005 National Championship -- and kept the Oh-for-Eternity streak going.

But on Wednesday night, I thought, briefly, this could be the year. The signs were ominous as number one Wake Forest lost at home to an unranked team, and the worst team in America, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, ended its nation-leading 51-game losing streak.

I'm not liking the night's vibe.  I thought, "Eternity could be coming to an end."  But not to worry, it didn’t.

In a local newspaper, which shall remain nameless, a sportswriter, who shall remain nameless, speaking of the streak, said it was "31 losses in Carmichael and 23 and counting in the Smith Center."  Well, 31 and 23 do add up to 54 but . . . .  The first time the two met in Chapel Hill was in the old "Tin Can" in 1926.   Carolina played its home games from 1938 until 1965 in Woollen Gymnasium.


Gary D. Gaddy once almost played in a pickup game against Michael Jordan in Woollen Gym, the home court of UNC's 1957 national championship team.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 29, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:36 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011 4:43 PM EST
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Thursday, January 22, 2009
Dean Smith to coach Obama's team

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Hall of Fame basketball coach Dean E. Smith announced today that he is coming out of his decade-long retirement to coach basketball again.  Smith will be taking the top job with the White House basketball team. 

The White House team, the 1600s, which plays in the top level of the Governmental Operations Federal Intra-Governmental Intramural and Recreational League, features President Barack Obama at shooting guard.

Smith, who will turn 77 next month and was the University of North Carolina head men's basketball coach for 36 years before his retirement in 1997, said that he was looking forward to coaching Obama.

"He's a cagey player," said Democrat House Whip Jim Clyburn of Obama.  "You watch him; all he does is drive to his left.  Then when you think you have him figured out, he's spinning to his right.  Pretty clever.  The better you scout the dude, the less likely you are to be able to defend him," said Clyburn.

Many observers have noted that Obama does seem more natural going to his left.  "Well, duh," said former Republican House Leader Newt Gingrich.  "He's a lefty.  Which way would you expect him to go?"

Smith said that he sees All-American potential in Obama.  Noting that although their bodies and their styles of play were quite distinct, Smith said he could see parallels between Obama and former Tar Heel great James Worthy -- quickness for one.

"Sometimes James would quickly fake one way, then quickly fake the other, then come back to where he started -- and get fouled because the defender was still on the first fake.  Obama does that a lot.  It's effective -- if you can make the free throws, which James didn't always do," said Smith.

Observers say Smith may have been enticed back into coaching by Obama’s larger vision for basketball in the public sphere.  They say Obama’s plan for the White House team is more than simply using it as an escape from the pressures of being a world leader and getting a little aerobic exercise.  Obama is said to be planning to begin by using basketball contests as substitutes for legislative battles.

"For a man who went to work between the swearing-in ceremony and sitting on the inaugural parade reviewing stand, this is the perfect way to re-capture the lost work time that would have accrued during his exercise period," said House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Obama's scheme is to use basketball contests as "championships" of the kind described in the Old Testament story of David and Goliath, where the teams are champions for their side and the basketball games will stand as surrogates for legislative contests.

As Goliath is quoted as saying, as he challenged the Israelites to send their best man forward to a mano-a-mano contest, "If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall you be our servants, and serve us."

This “champions” plan may explain why Obama insiders appear to have been angling to get former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, a basketball All-American who stands six foot five inches tall, appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's unexpired term as New York's junior senator.  Caroline Kennedy is 5' 6'' -- in heels.

The White House 1600s could use some help.  Currently 1-2 in non-conference, pre-season play, the 1600s lost in blow-outs to Rod Blagojevich's Illinois Sleaze team and, in their season opener, to a New Mexico team, the Ex-Govs, led by Bill Richardson.  (Insiders say the disparity in foul calls in both games have led some to suspect that the game officials were paid off.) 

The White House's only win came over the Senate Republicans, when the 1600s shut down the Old Right's offense altogether during their match up in the quadrennial Confirmation Classic.

When Smith, the author of the classic basketball text, Multiple Offense and Defense, was asked if he planned a "bi-partisan" approach during his new stint as coach, his response was quick, and accompanied by one of his classic referee-melting scowls.  "Not as long as Krzyzewski is a registered Republican," said Smith.

Asked if he thought this model for resolving conflicts could be broadened to include international affairs, for example our disputes with the Russian Federation, Smith said that would only be possible “if we get different officials, scorers and timekeepers than we had in the Munich Olympics in 1972.”

Smith's announcement ended the rumors that had been swirling about that University of North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour was set to replace current UNC head coach Roy Williams "with a veteran coach."

 

Gary D. Gaddy, who, at age 10 or so, was injured before his first Optimist League game and used it as an excuse to drop off the team, and briefly considered going out for his high school's JV team, remembers going to his left only once in more than twenty-five years of pickup games in UNC's Woollen Gym.  It worked.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 22, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:39 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 7:11 AM EST
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Thursday, January 15, 2009
Brightest guy in the room

HERB SENDEK IS MAKING ME LOOK GOOD.  I said, when he was run out of town on a rail three years ago by the ever-thoughtful Wolfpack Nation, "In four or five years, Arizona State's basketball team will be better than NC State's."  (At the time ASU was one of the poorer major conference basketball programs in America.)

Well, according to the pollsters, whose job it is to figure these things out, ol' Herb (who is actually a young 45) has done it already.  In the latest AP poll, Sendek's Arizona State University Sun Devils rank 16 and in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll they rank 15.  NC State received no votes.

In 2006 when Sendek left NC State for Arizona State he was well known as a coach who had run an impeccable program, whose players graduated, whose teams had averaged 21 victories and had posted five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in his last five seasons.

So, why did Sendek leave?  Because many State fans wanted him gone.  Why were State fans so upset with him?  Mainly because he couldn't beat Mike Krzyzewski or Roy Williams.  Well, guess what?  Neither can anyone else.  Heck, they can't even beat each other.  Williams and Krzyzewski are five and five versus each other since Williams came to UNC.  These are two of the top ten coaches in the history of the game, the whole history of the game -- including Naismith.

What did State fans want Sendek to be?  Someone other than who he was -- most likely Jim Valvano.  In many respects, Herb Sendek was the anti-Valvano -- and that's not all bad.

We, including me, have many fond memories of Jim Valvano.  He was clever, engaging and one of the best off-the-cuff comedians you would ever want to meet.  I felt about him like one of my fellow UNC grad students, J. Walker Smith, who told me once the reason he stayed in school at UNC for his master's and Ph.D. was for Tar Heel basketball tickets.  He said, "Know what I hate most about Valvano?  He's so hard to hate!"

You had to like the guy -- for his post-game press conferences if nothing else.

Valvano also fought a courageous and inspiring battle against cancer – and left pretty much all of college basketball fighting it with him.

But Valvano could overreach and did.  He didn't run an impeccable program, bringing in, among others, the likes of Chris Washburn who was an embarrassment to his university.  And his coaching record, while good, wasn't on par with Williams or Krzyzewski either.

True, Sendek can come across like a sedated accountant.  In fact, if he were any more boring in his presentation, he would be Dean Smith.  Yep, that boring.  But, it pays to pay attention sometimes.  Like ol' Dean, Herb had very interesting and clear insights on the game of basketball -- but no Italian in his manner to spice up the presentation of them.

Meanwhile, Sendek was one of the smartest guys ever to coach a game involving a bouncing ball.  My evidence?  Sendek graduated summa cum laude, with a 3.95 GPA, from Carnegie-Mellon University. 

And Sendek is not just book smart -- though he is that.  One impartial witness “put it this way." Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said of Sendek: "I've been in league meetings with Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski, and Herb was the brightest guy in the room."

And now he's lighting up the Arizona desert.

 

****
Hatchell shoots for 300th loss

CHAPEL HILL -- In the wake of the celebrations of her 800th victory as a women's basketball coach, Sylvia Hatchell has moved on to a new goal: 300 losses.  It may not be as easy as it sounds.

In the last four-and-one-half seasons, Hatchell's Lady Tar Heels have gone 130-13.  "The way I figure it, a loss must be ten times as tough to get as a win," basketball commentator Caroline Pack notes.  If Hatchell's teams continue winning at the rate they have over the last several seasons, it will take her nine years to get from 274 to the 300 loss milestone.  

What can Hatchell do to speed the time it takes to get to the magic 300?  TV analyst Debra D'Antonello observes that "the last thing that Hatchell tried, which any coach could tell you would cost you games, which is to stop caring about turnovers, has blown up in her face."

Said D'Antonello, "In the last few years Hatchell's teams have had more turnovers than Carter has little pills -- and they are winning even more."

The experts speculated on why Hatchell wasn't setting a more easily attainable goal, like say 275 or 280 losses. "I don't know really.  It just seems like big round numbers make better targets," Pack said.


Gary D. Gaddy has one win and no losses on his coaching resume

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 15, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:30 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 8:17 AM EST
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Thursday, January 8, 2009
Local writer treated for imperfection

 

Due to an unexpected hospitalization, the Local Voices column usually appearing in this space will not appear this week.  The Chapel Hill Herald editorial staff hopes that its readers be will understanding during this difficult time and bear with us until the column returns.  The following news story may help clarify the nature of Dr. Gaddy's absence, the prognosis for his recovery and the timing of his return.

GARY D. GADDY, the Chapel Hill Herald's leading Thursday columnist, has been hospitalized since Sunday evening in the University of North Carolina Hospitals' Infectious Disease Treatment Unit.  Gaddy, 58, has what one UNC doctor called one of the worst cases of imperfection infection that he has seen in 21 years of medical practice.

The imperfection disorder, which is caused by the virus T.H. imperfectiviridae, is a seasonal illness which breeds among crowds in large indoor spectating venues.  It is usually not fatal.

Dr. Bernard T. Fingleton, a noted psychopathologist, who spent two decades at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, said he thought that Gaddy's distress may have been enhanced by the fact that he deliberately delayed his direct exposure to the imperfection virus while dining out with friends.  Imperfectiviridae infections, it seems, are a cross between physical retroviruses and computer viruses and thus can be transmitted electronically.

"It's not, however, a virtual disease.  It's real.  Just ask anybody who has suffered a bout of it.  It sucks the life right out of you," said Fingleton.

Fingleton said the last time he saw anything like this outbreak was April 1, 1991.  That epidemic was at the time termed the Runless Rebless Syndrome.  "It seemed like a bad April Fool's joke -- but it wasn't," said Fingleton.

"Until full recovery is achieved, it is hard to see how anyone could make a single chuckle-worthy joke much less produce a humor-filled column," said Neil Offen, past editor of the Chapel Hill Herald.

Still, this is not one of those "it only hurts when I laugh kind of syndromes," according to Dr. Fingleton.  "You can't laugh after a serious imperfection infection, certainly not anyone who had been previously exposed to the precursor perfection expectation virus (T.H.-b perfectusexpectusviridae)."

The expectation virus, say researchers, lowers the body's natural immune system defenses so that it becomes more susceptible to imperfectiviridae infections.

Around 7:30 pm on Sunday the hospital's emergency room was flooded with walk-in patients with imperfectus.  "Many of individuals said that they were sitting on top of the world when, in a period of two hours, the world collapsed out from under them," reported Jan Bonnet, a receptionist at UNC Hospitals.

"The refrain we heard was almost universal," said Liza Botts, an emergency-room nurse.  "They'd say, 'Just a couple of hours ago, I felt perfect.  Now this,'" she said.  Botts described treating cheerleaders with their hair-ribbons untied, other students with smeared facepaint, several older males with their shirt-tails hanging out.  "They were a mess," Botts said.

Although Gaddy was by far the most notable individual person to fall to the disorder, he was hardly the only one.

One other newsworthy individual who was treated, but cannot be mentioned by name due to the federal health privacy regulations, was described variously by sources as a local attorney, a former United States senator, a former candidate for vice president and a former candidate for president.

A source familiar with this individual said that in her years of acquaintance she had never seen him in a state like this before.  "I swear his hair was mussed," said Diane Cling, a secretary at the UNC School of Law.

The outbreak seems to be localized as Duke University Medical Center in Durham has not reported any significant up tick in imperfection infection cases.  Duke physician Ganji Gupta said he has seen a few but "many more cases of free-form euphoria than imperfectus."

After talking to colleagues at UNC, Gupta said, "I don't think we have seen anything like what they are seeing there at UNC here at Duke since December 2000."

Dr. Graeme Greene, an epidemiologist affiliated with Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, says that they will be on the watch for an outbreak in Winston-Salem next weekend.

Gaddy's wife, who received only a half dose of exposure to the imperfection infection, was treated and released after several hours.  Doctors said that she will likely not suffer long-term consequence of significance -- as long as she plays her generally cheery banjo only in minor keys until late March or early April when the possibility of re-infection within this annual cycle disappears.

A family spokesperson said that Dr. Gaddy is requesting that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the RoyHasToGo.com website and that in lieu of cards or other condolences individuals should post appropriate comments on the website's Bash-Roy Blog.

 
Gary D. Gaddy hopes to return to writing his regular humor column sometime during 2009.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 8, 2009.

Copyright 2009 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:29 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 8:37 PM EST
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Thursday, January 1, 2009
Irony of ironies: An ironic column

AS A WRITER  I USE WORDS ALL THE TIME.  In fact, even when I wasn't a writer I used words all the time.  As a professor of journalism I was paid to correct the errors in the words of students who aspired to become journalists whose profession's role is, at least in part, to correct the errors of others.  I’m still kind of in that habit.

So, my recommendation is that most people stop using the words irony, ironic and ironically.  At the least, they should until they learn how to use them un-ironically.

I say this because the word irony and its derivatives are probably used incorrectly more often than they are used correctly.  This even though it is an erudite term that you would think would only be used by the erudite.

And I’m not the only one who sees irony being contorted on a daily basis.  The Urban Dictionary says that irony is "one of the most misused words in the entire English language."   Irony is a subtle concept.  Obviously most people don't get it.

What is irony?  According to Wikipedia,  “irony (from the ancient Greek eironeía, meaning hypocrisy, deception, or feigned ignorance) is a literary or rhetorical device, in which there is an incongruity or discordance between what one says or does, and what one means or what is generally understood.  Irony is a mode of expression that calls attention to discrepancy between two levels of knowledge.  In fiction, it is a demonstration of the distance between the character's knowledge and that of the audience."

Most current uses of the term irony merely reference odd coincidence or something simply unfortunate.

For example, nothing described in Alanis Morissette’s hit song "Ironic," which is supposed about how ironic life is, is in fact ironic.  Isn't that ironic?  "A black fly in your Chardonnay" isn't ironic.  As an example of irony, it is not ironic; it's moronic.

Now here's some more irony.  Irony Central (ironycentral.com) says "Any humor inadvertently contained in these pages is brought to you by the concept of irony. To us crazy kids, saying the opposite of what we really mean or think, i.e. irony, is funny."

As one observer noted of this passage, "Ironically, that site’s editor apparently believes you can achieve irony by merely stating the opposite of what you believe -- even if you tell the reader that you are doing exactly that."

Further, from the www.answerbag.com, voted as the "best example" of irony was that the first video ever played on MTV was "Video killed the radio star."  This is could be, maybe, mildly ironic.  It is really mostly an un-coincidence since an MTV programmer made a deliberate decision to run that "ironic" video.

(Now if DJ Casey Kasem was killed in the filming of the "Video killed the radio star" video, now that would be ironic.)

Another real-life example of actual irony, cited on www.answerbag.com, is this: "Online pop-ups offering to help you get rid of online pop-ups."

Journalist Jon Winokur gave this exhibit of irony in an article that ran in the Los Angeles Times Sunday, February 11, 2007, entitled "You call that irony?"  A 2001 Father’s Day tribute on ESPN featured “How Sweet It Is (to be Loved by You),” performed by Marvin Gaye, who was shot and killed by his father in 1984.

I suggest it would be ironic if the Center for Handicap Accessibility had no wheelchair ramp.

Another example of situational irony, from the website examples-help.org.uk, comes from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

But first, a Coleridge quiz:  Finish this familiar quatrain: "Water, water, every where, / And all the boards did shrink; / Water, water, every where . . ."  Think for a moment before you read further.

If you said, "And not a drop to drink," you, like 95% of the people to whom I have given this quiz, are wrong.  (Only two people got it right, my mother, who is one of the smartest people I ever met, and someone else, whose name at this moment I cannot remember.)

Anyway, the actual line from Coleridge is this: "Nor any drop to drink."

But, back to the task at hand, the situation of Coleridge's mariners is ironic because they are surrounded by water -- but dying of thirst.

But irony isn't dead.  In the New York Times Andy Newman in the article "Irony Is Dead. Again. Yeah, Right" notes that word irony has been steadily disappearing from New York daily newspapers for a decade. Between 2000 to 2008, appearances of the word “irony” and its cognates tumbled 56 percent.

But he notes: "The analysis may have its flaws.  For one thing, the search algorithm also, ironically, picked up phrases like 'end of irony.'  More significantly, no self-respecting ironist actually uses the word “ironic,” except, perhaps, ironically."


Ironist Gary D. Gaddy, ironically, writes ironic columns every once in a while.

A version of this article appeared in the January 1, 2009 editon of the Chapel Hill Herald.

Copyright  2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:00 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, June 6, 2009 6:09 PM EDT
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Friday, December 26, 2008
Learning the Goldsmith Variations

FRED GOLDSMITH, you may or may not remember, was the head football coach at Duke from 1994 to 1998.   We commemorate this month the 10th anniversary of his firing. 

Goldsmith was the 1994 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year for NCAA Division I football -- for coaching football at Duke!  At a Duke home basketball game in 1994, Coach Goldsmith was introduced to a roaring ovation that was far louder than anything the Duke men's team or its coach received that day.

But that ray of football light quickly dipped below the dimming horizon, as in just a few short years, the once-heralded Goldsmith was dispatched to outer darkness -- out of football altogether until 2001 when he became the head coach at Franklin High School in Macon County, North Carolina.

Duke football has not always been synonymous with the term loser.  During the 21 seasons from 1945 to 1965, Duke had a winning record 17 times, went to 13 bowls (and that was back when bowl bids weren't handed out like popcorn to every team with a non-losing record).

But Duke has had but one winning season since 1990 -- the 1994 campaign under Goldsmith.  It was part of his undoing.

What lessons can be learned from the Fred Goldsmith years?   The most important Goldsmith Variation is this:  If you are a coach, don't over-accomplish early.  If you're going to win -- don't do it right off the bat.  The general principle is to not get ahead early "in the game" in any sport at all unless you're going to win from then on out.

Consider this: An early big lead in a game which turns into a loss is a termed "a choke."  Conversely, with the same final score, an early big deficit followed by a very good second half is a "great comeback" that fell just short.

Likewise, a big early lead in the conference schedule followed by poor results is "a collapse."  Conversely, with the same final overall conference record, a poor early result followed by success later in the year is "saving a season."  (See the NC State football team in 2008.)

Finally, great early success in a coaching career at a particular school, followed by mediocre results, is a "failure to move the program forward."  Conversely, with the same final overall coaching record, with early mediocrity followed by success later is "building a program." (Compare Fred Goldsmith who started 8-1 to Mack Brown who started 2-20.)

Among the Goldsmith Variations is the more general Principle of Recency.  That is: “What have you done for me lately?” The only game result that really counts is the latest one.  If you don't believe that, consider a coach who wins almost every game in whatever sport, whatever level, makes it to the championship game year after year but loses it.  He is not a winner.  He's a goat, who "can't win the big one."  He's a loser.

If you don't believe that fans could be so narrow minded and short sighted, consider the Minnesota Vikings who went to three Super Bowls in four years, or the Buffalo Bills who went to four in a row, but lost them all.  They are considered not "almost great" teams.  They were not called very good teams who happened to meet better.  They are called losers.

So, have our local coaches learned from Goldsmith?  Yes, but some better than others. 

Jim Grobe of Wake got off to a poor start, that is a good one, by going 6-5 and 7-6, but before it was too late lowered expectations by going 4-7, 4-7 and 5-7.  Then Wake went 11-3, 9-4 and then 8-5, which is good except now he's going downhill.

Butch Davis at UNC went 4-8 in his first season, then went 8-4, which is good except that this year he started 6-1, which is good -- which is bad -- since he after that he went 3-3.

NCSU's Tom O'Brien this season went 6-6 after going 5-7 last, which is mediocre but since he started 2-6 then went 4-0 to end this season, the fans are really happy.

Duke's David Cutcliffe didn't get the kinks worked out quickly starting 3-1 (in danger of committing a basic Goldsmith) but then righted himself going 1-7 for the rest of the season..  He was thinking ahead.  Going 4-8 this season, he can go 6-6 next year and look like a world beater.

So how have our "Big Four" coaches done overall?   Let us use the only meaningful measuring stick that there is in major college athletics: dollars.  In the last two years three of the four have received raises and/or contract extensions -- and the fourth, Tom O'Brien, will be receiving one shortly, I will wager.

But the real question is this, "Did Fred Goldsmith learn?"  You decide.  Hired in 2006 as head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne College, his Bears finished 2-9, but as school website says "the future bodes well."

Gary D. Gaddy would like wish Christmas blessings on all of his readers, even those who root for the wrong teams.

A version of this article appeared in the December 25, 2008 editon of the Chapel Hill Herald.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 5:05 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:31 AM EST
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Thursday, December 18, 2008
Toilet paper and other crises

AS A ONE-TIME SCHOLAR of mass communication, I say that the daily papers (and other news media) may be part of our current economic crisis.  Their own economic troubles aside -- and daily newspapers are in a major crisis themselves right now only partly related to general economic conditions -- the mass media are part of our economic woes.

As the news media continually beat the drum of a potentially deepening recession, they not only inform us of the current state of things, they also help shape some of those very same conditions they cover.

I'll start with the paradox of thrift, an economic proposition made by economist John Maynard Keynes.  The paradox of thrift says that if consumers start saving more money during times of recession, then aggregate demand will fall (and with it the economy as a whole which will in turn lower total savings by the population, thus the paradox).

So, says Keynes, saving in lean times will make things worse for the economy as a whole.  Saving, which is good for the economy in good times, thus becomes detrimental hoarding in bad times.

Further, falling consumer confidence is not only an indicator of an incipient recession; it is one of the causes.  When consumers are worried about a coming gloomy economy, they act as if it has already come and in doing so make it happen.

So, what do the media have to do with a recession?  In emphasizing, focusing on and even exaggerating the economic threats ahead, the media are part of the problem, battering the consumer confidence that can be a bulwark against a downward spiral.

Don't think the media have such power?  A simple, silly example will show, in one very limited arena, how one particular media figure with a few words caused a miniature economic crisis, one you may or may not remember:  The great toilet paper shortage of 1973.

This little economic footnote started entirely in the media.  On December 19, 1973, Johnny Carson told a joke for that evening's show about a new commodity shortage about to hit America.  (That being the era of nationwide gasoline shortages, precipitated by the OPEC oil embargo, the subject was topical.)

Carson made this not-very-funny joke in his monologue: "You know what's disappearing from the supermarket shelves?  Toilet paper.  There's an acute shortage of toilet paper in the United States."  What happened next was the real joke.

While Carson’s bit was intended to be humorous -- there was no toilet paper shortage -- some of the estimated 20 million people watching Carson’s show that night took him seriously, ran out the next morning and bought as much toilet paper as they could carry.  By noon that day, stores all across America were out of stock.  Some even tried to ration this now precious commodity but to no avail.

A few nights later, Carson apologized to his viewers, explaining that there was no shortage.  But, by this time, he was well-intentioned but wrong as his comedy had morphed into prophecy.  As other consumers had noticed the empty toilet paper shelves, they panicked and bought even more.  It took three weeks before the shelves were fully stocked again -- and our long national nightmare was over.

Well, a toilet paper shortage is a joke -- but a recession made worse isn’t.

A little more personal example comes from the late 1970s, when my grandmother was in her eighties.  She lived in fear of violent crime.  She kept a starter pistol, which shoots blanks, in her nightstand next to her bed.  Why?  Because her TV news came from Charlotte, which at the time was reputed to have a higher per capita murder rate than the then very violent New York City.  What that had to do with safety in the little town of Maiden an hour's drive away, I think, was very little.  But her fear was real -- and as dangerous as her pistol was phony.

Now I can’t say that media’s fear-filled coverage of the economy has been extremely misleading -- because neither I nor anyone else knows what the future holds for the economy.  Nobody knows how bad this recession will be.  What I do know is that it will be worse than it would have been if the media weren't so relentlessly focused on every bad report.

But I am not the first to notice this.  "This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."  This was Franklin Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in 1932.

As sage an observation now as it was then.

 

Gary D. Gaddy has a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

A version of this article appeared in the December 18, 2008 editon of the Chapel Hill Herald.

Copyright  2008  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:26 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 9:18 PM EST
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