Saturday, December 31, 2016

Buckeyes Embarrass Themselves


This was the New Year's Eve laugher to end all laughers--New Year's Eve or any other eve.

At halftime tonight, here's what I wrote: The stadium scoreboard reads: Clemson 17, Ohio State 0.

Evidently the Buckeyes' team plane has not yet departed the airport in Columbus, Ohio.

They are no-shows in their Fiesta Bowl collegiate football playoff football game at Glendale, AZ

Well, sports fans, coach Urban Meyer and his Ohio State never did show up for this game.

Clemson demolished the Buckeyes, 31-0, in a game that thoroughly embarrassed Ohio State, Meyer and the Big Ten Conference.

It was the first time a team coached by Meyer had been shut out and the first time Ohio State had been blanked since 1993.

I guess Penn State, which whipped the Buckeyes during the regular season, belonged in the four-team national playoff instead of Ohio State after all.

It's hard to believe the Buckeyes could be so bad in a game of this magnitude.

Even Woody Hayes had to be rolling over in his grave after this one.

Hayes, of course, was the guy who became the face of Ohio state football in the previous century.

He coached the Buckeyes for 28 years, before leaving in disgrace. He was fired after punching a Clemson [yes, Clemson] player, Charlie Bauman, late in the 1978 Gator Bowl.

I'm wondering what Hayes thought of tonight's debacle against Clemson.

Whatever, it will be Alabama against Clemson the Jan. 9 game that will decide collegiate football's national championship.

Believe me, those are the two teams that belong in the title game.

It figures to be a dandy.

Friday, December 30, 2016

I was intending to write something about movies before the year ended, and today I'm keeping that promise.
But this is not what I was planning to write.
This one is about Debbie Reynolds, and it is with a heavy heart that I am writing it.
Let me start by stating that present-day movies don't interest me much.
I think it's been more than a year since I've seen one in a theater.
I can't tell you the name of one movie that's popular now.
The golden age of movies for me was when I was a kid and a young adult.
That's where Debbie Reynolds enters the picture, so to speak.
Unless you've been on Jupiter or Mars lately, you know that 84-year-old Debbie Reynolds died this week--the day after her daughter, 60-year-old Carrie Fisher died.
Like her mother, Carrie Fisher was quite the entertainer.
But Carrie obviously grew up in a different era than Debbie and a different era than me.
I didn't know and didn't care that much about Carrie.
I'm sure she was very talented, and I join many others in saying she died much too young.
Now to Debbie Reynolds....
To me, Debbie Reynolds was every young man's girlfriend.b
I know she was my girlfriend--imaginary, of course.
Oh, sure, Debbie was older than me. But, hell, maybe I liked older women in those days. I guess they call 'em cougars now.
I was talking to one of my sons the other day after we both saw the movie Singin' In the Rain on TV.
It was about the 65th time I'd seen Singin' In the Rain. It was my son's second or third time.
I told him about the strong attraction Debbie Reynolds had on us back in the good old days.
She was pretty, she was cute, she was lively, she was intelligent, she said all the right things, she smiled all the time, she could sing, she could dance, she would always be 18 years of age.
As far as I was concerned, Debbie Reynolds never married singer Eddie Fisher and two other guys after that.
Like I said, she always stayed 18, she always was my 18-year-old girlfriend.
Debbie Reynolds was still a teenager when she virtually stole the show in Singin' In the Rain.
She played the role of Kathy Selden, which called for her to sing and dance alongside the legendary Gene Kelly and the not-so-legendary Donald O'Connor.
Kelly and O'Connor had been dancing professionally for years. Debbie Reynolds could do neither very well.
Debbie would later say that Kelly had little patience with her during the filming.
"My feet were bleeding from all of that dancing, and when I pointed it out, Gene would say, 'Clean it up!'" Debbie was quoted as saying at the time.
Much later, in 2012 at the American Film Institute, she said, "You know, I was so dumb that I didn't feel I could fail. I felt the role in Singin' In the Rain] was me and I marched straight ahead."
March she did, straight into the hearts of America's movie fans.
Debbie Reynolds was in many more movies after that, including
Tammy and the Bachelor, in which she sang her famous Tammy song in 1957.
Tammy rose to No. 1 on the charts that year, and stayed on top for five weeks.
Obviously it was played, and danced to, over and over on Friday and Saturday nights in dance halls throughout America--including Iowa hot spots such as Danceland in Cedar Rapids, the Dance-Mor Ballroom in Swisher, the Legion in Solon and the Val Air Ballroom in West Des Moines.
I certainly recall Debbie Reynolds singing Tammy in that era, and it's fun today locating her singing Tammy on YouTube.
Every Tammy fan will recall how the song began:
"All I hear the cottonwoods whisp'rin' above
Tammy...Tammy...Tammy's in love
"The ole hootie owl hootie-hoo's to the dove
Tammy...Tammy...Tammy's in love
"Does my lover feel what I feel
When he comes near?
"My heart beats so joyfully
You'd think that he could hear
"Wish I knew if he knew what I'm dreaming of
"Tammy...Tammy...Tammy's in love...."
Great stuff, huh?
At least when all of us were teenagers.
Well, thanks to outfits likeTurner Classic Movies and YouTube, Debbie Reynolds, her movies and her songs will never be forgotten.
She was one of a kind.
Thanks for the memories, Debbie.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fake News


It's very difficult keeping up with what's going on in this fast-moving world of ours, especially now that fake news is screwing up things.

I guess fake news has become such an epidemic worldwide that you can't believe anything you see on TV or read in newspapers and the Internet or on social media.

And heavens to the memory of Frank Eyerly, Parker Mize and Leighton Housh, you can't even believe what's printed anymore on the front page and the sports pages of the Des Moines paper.

I mean, a headline yesterday on page 1 claimed that Iowa's the Hawkeyes' basketball team was "locked and loaded for Big Ten play."

Talk about fake news.

I guess being "locked and loaded" means getting walloped by 22 points at Purdue.

I guess the headline on the front of the sports section saying Iowa's players had "found their defensive groove" meant Purdue would make 3-point baskets all night.

Now people are asking me what the heck I think is wrong with the Hawkeyes.

I'm letting our boys off easy. After all, I'm into the holiday spirit bigtime.

I'm telling those critics that the Hawkeyes really didn't have a game last night in West Lafayette, Ind., and really didn't get run out of the Purdue gym.

I'm calling it fake news.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Look Back & A Look Ahead


My Neighbor Al walked over to the house in search of a cup or two of Italian Dark Roast late this afternoon and, as usual, was brimming with questions and advice.

"I see you finally got your leaves raked up today," he said. "What were you trying to do, work off all the calories you added to your body with food and liquids on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, The Day After Christmas and The Day After That?"

"Hey, Al, I didn't rake the leaves," I said. "I called my lawn mowing company, and the boss and two other guys came over to get the leaves up with big blowers and other equipment.

"The yard looks pretty darn good now, don't you think?"

"Yeah," Al said, "I think you set an all-time world record by getting your leaves swept up on Dec. 28.

"Next year, when there's 6 feet of snow on the ground at this time, I'll come over for some Italian Dark Roast and we can talk about what a historic day Dec. 28, 2016 was!"

The leaves weren't all of what Al had on his mind, of course.

"I haven't thanked you yet for putting my name on that long list of people you sent Christmas greetings to," he said. "I'm glad I'm one of your many friends.

"You're one of the first people I thought of," I said. "Right after Kris from the Mercy West Hospital emergency room, where we had to make a visit at 2:30 in the morning a while back."

"Speaking of Christmas, was Santa Claus good to you?" Al asked.

"He sure was," I answered. "We had our usual Christmas that lasted 3 or 4 days, and the old boy had plenty of nice stuff in his bag for me.

"Call it The Apple Electronic Christmas. I got an iPhone 6S Plus, and now I can text with the best of 'em, send email, take pictures, read the Internet, get where I'm going with the GPS on the phone, and the thing may even check my blood sugar and make bacon and eggs. Plus that, I can make phone calls."

Then I told Al that the kids gave me a new and larger iPad 2 Air. They thought the iPad Mini I'd been using in recent years was showing its age. I agreed with 'em.

The kids also made sure I got protective cases for both the iPhone and the iPad, and they outfitted me [as usual] with a new Valley High School basketball T-shirt, and a nice-looking [and I assume nice-tasting] bottle of grape wine with natural peach from the Dubuque Heritage Winery.

"Remember when you were at our house on Thanksgiving?" daughter-in-law Donna said. "You liked the grape and peach wine, and now you have your own bottle."

"Did your ladyfriend from Japan send you something this year?" Al asked.

"Yes, Fusayo Hattori sent us a huge box of gifts again," I said, "A T-shirt with Japanese writing on the front, slippers, socks, Japanese green tea, candy, you name it. We have a lot more things now that say Made In Japan."

"What does the Japanese writing on the front front of your T-shirt say?" Al asked. "Something dirty?"

"Come on, Al," I said. "Fusayo wouldn't do something like that--only if it was 2 a.m. and she was drinking. I'll email her and ask what the writing says, and get back to you on it."

Al was on his third cup of Italian Dark Roast when he began talking about New Year's Eve and Day, which will be here very soon--even before the Hawkeyes tee it up against Florida in their bowl game.

"You making any New Year's resolutions?" Al asked.

"I'm not a big New Year's resolution guy, Al," I said. "But there are some things I'd like to change."

"Like what?" Al asked.

"I'd like to behave myself better in 2017, which is something I always say in late-December of every year," I answered.

"Specifically, I'd like to quit giving into temptation so much," I said.


"Hey, listen, Ronnie ol' boy, I've lived in the house next to yours for more than 40 years, and I know you pretty well," Al said.

"The day you quit giving into temptation is the day the sun sets in the east.

"Don't worry. You're doing all right. You're just like a lot of other people. Don't be tough on yourself. But don't forget to go to one of the church services on Saturday or Sunday every week, listen to the sermons and pray a lot."

"Thanks, Al," I said. "I'm glad you're my neighbor. I'm thinking 2017 will be a great year.

"Let me pour you another cup, and thanks for coming over."

Friday, December 23, 2016

Music To My Ears


There's a reason I've been thinking a lot about Christmas and writing a lot about Christmas lately.

It's probably my favorite time of the year.

The church services, the spiritual aspect of Christmas, the family get-togethers, all of the kids and grandkids being home, the decorated Christmas trees, the Christmas cookies, the other Christmas foods, the's something no other holiday can provide.

Then there's the music.

I am absolutely crazy about Christmas music.

I've already written about the Southwestern Community College choir from Creston that sang earlier this month at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, and the brilliant Mannheim Steamroller Christmas show at the Civic Center in downtown Des Moines.

Those groups provided Christmas hymns and songs that have stood the test of time.

They've been around since I was a kid, and they were around when a lot of people much older than me were kids.

Also, I was thinking the other day about my early years at the paper, when I was working the late shift on the sports copy desk.

We'd get off at 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The no-frills 1961 Chevy Biscayne car was packed, and we loaded the three kids into the the car for the 2-hour drive to Cedar Rapids for Christmas at the grandparents' homes at 637 18th Avenue SW and 411 Fifth Avenue SW.

For the entire 2 hours, Crosby and others were on the car radio singing Christmas music.

What a way that was to travel the night before Christmas

Yes, Christmas music is unbeatable.

I've had the pleasure of listening to 2 and 3 consecutive hours of Christmas music the past few weeks, and I'm listening to O Little Town Of Bethlehem by Bing Crosby as I write this.

My entire home is flooded with Christmas music most of the day and night, thanks to my son Mark, an airplane pilot who is also an electronic genius [I call him a genius, he doesn't], who installed speakers throughout the house that are wired to the keyboard in the dining room.

I control everything with my iPad while lounging in my lazy-boy.

I control which hymns and songs to which we listen, and I control the volume.

I turn up the volume a lot.

I'm generally an upbeat, optimistic guy [probably more naughty than nice]. But, like everyone else, I can have a day when I don't feel the greatest. However, just listening to the Christmas music has a marvelous effect on me.

It lifts me higher than I've been lifted all day.

It's unbelievable what music such as Joy To the World, Silent Night, The First Noel, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Away In a Manger, Deck the Halls, Joy To the World and O Come All Ye Faithful can do for me.

I like listening to one vocalist, one choir after another--people like Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, the Norman Luboff choir, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, the Mormon Tabernacle choir, Karen Carpenter, even Dean Martin and plenty of others.

Well, actually, Karen Carpenter could sing to me on a 7/24 basis, every minute of the day, but don't tell Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra about it.

I still can't believe she died at 32 and has been gone for 33 years. I miss Karen a lot. I'm glad her music is still around. 

I'll get off of these computer keys for a while. Sinatra is singing I'll Be Home for Christmas, and I want to listen to it.

I'm glad I'll be home for Christmas.

Merry Christmas

Christmas Greetings from Ron Maly to....

Paul Morrison, Christine Coleman Ryerson, Siva P. Jagarlapudi, Nancy Schmidt, Isabell Ritchie, Chris Blodi, Connie Jones Avis, Sandi Meyer, Ai Huong Phu, Carolyn Fitzgibbon, Ravi K. Vemuri, Betty York, Paul Delger, Nancy Kane, Fusayo Hattori, Steven G. Berry.

Sara Stafford, Robert Culver, Larry Morgan, Jay A. Davidson, Shelby Kate Maly, Ethel Kolenz, Marlene Cocks, Dave Kelley, Kendall Meyer, Tom Davis, Chuck Schoffner, Naomi Hanson, Ron Gonder, Kathy Brammeier, Marc Morehouse, Judy Wiseman, John John, Val Monson, Joyce Squires, Dan Callahan, June Norris, Laura DeLong, Jay Cookman, Nancy Joslin.

Bonnie Wutzke, Tom Kroeschell, Carol Moehnke, Janae Nicole Hessenius, Becky Tew, Dave Meyer, Cole Maly, Joe Sigrist, Lonn Maly, Carl Hanson, Jim Ecker, Pam Allen, Jeff Schmidt, Jolene Smith.

Norma Pillack, Kevin Maly, Mike Tew, Sally Gudenkauf, Polly Maly, Bob Modersohn, Danielle Marie Maly, Lyle Matthews, Randy Peterson, John Ritchie, Hayden Fry, James Brammeier, Dave Stockdale, Kirby Bruzek, Bobby Knight, Joseph Kolenz, Dale Curtice, Jennie Baranczyk, Jerika Maly.

Julie Hoffman, Bill Neibergall, Frank Squires, Barry Crist, Keno Davis, Dan Ver Woert, Roland Pillack, Tommy Birch, Maureen Maly, Kirk Ferentz, Annette Cookman, Traci Squires, Rick Brown, Mike Frazier, Fred Wutzke, Reid Allen, Dave Shoeman, Einar Bogason, Norma Halling, Annette Ver Woert, Tiffany Seevers, Mary Kilburn, Kim Dye Neuhaus, Marlene Glahn, Megan Maly, Sue Barlow, Lance Maly, LeRoy Hanson, Dan McCarney, Lynn Meyer, Ed Wiseman, Orv Spence, Connie Seevers, Nate Maly, Norma Pillack, Linda Silverthorne Curtis, Mike Condon, Don Timm, Harold Yeglin, Steve Roe, Jeff Rains, Jo First, Sherry Ricchiardi, George Kruckenberg, Alice and Julius Maly.

Colleen Kullmer, Paul Glahn, Rick First, Donna Maly, Mike Johnson, Phil Haddy, Tom Seevers, Terry Hersom, Craig Cooper, David Mumm, Michael Schmidt, Pat Harty, Tom Seevers, Gene Joslin, Marc Hansen. Kris Boyles, Kay Hamed, Michelle Hanson, Joe Pelisek, Buck Turnbull, Dan Koehn, Kirk Hardcastle, Lindsey Seevers Kowalke, Bob Hamed, Mavis Herzberg, Mike Ebbing, Dylan Bright, Dave Witke, JoAnn Reinboth, Katie and Henry Koehn.

Brenda Jones Wiarda, Carter Hanson, Mark Dukes, Sophie Hanson, Mike Hlas, Matt Seevers, Monica Morrison Coons, Elsa Hanson, Yuki Hattori, Ron Buel, Brian Gallagher, Phil Maly, Mike Hoffman, Julie Seevers, Heidi McNeal, Mary Jane Maly, Kyle Ealy, Diana Koehn, Lois Jean Schumann, Claire Maly, Mark Neuhaus, Jay Turnbull, Luke Maly, Chuck Offenburger, Harold Reinboth.

Ann Meiners, Butch McCarthy, Dave Peterson, Ian Thompson, Katelin Maly, Donna Thompson, Ed Kelly, Paulette McCarthy, Cory Emily, Jon Kalvig, B. J. Windhorst, Jodi Hansen, Suzanne Schwichtenberg, Rob Brooks, Pat Gonder, Jane Clark, Rick Koehn, Julie DenHerder, John Cavanaugh, Danley Schumann, Margie Davidson, Paul P. Brown, Christopher Schmidt, Sue Doering Graber, Larry Lehmer, Juanita Krueger, Ed Podolak, Joyce Squires, Phil Hessenius, Chuck Shelton, Jan Stafford, My Neighbor Al.

Julie Elder, Scott Shook, Julie Maly, Lori Discher, Mark Maly, Sue Ring, Diane Lisk, Gerald Meiners, Kirby Bruzek, Nancy Stockdale, Steve Bruzek, Larry Cotlar, Janey Ladd, Gene Raffensperger, Gary Swenson, Ed Koehn, Tiffany Seevers, Scott Bruzek, Dennis Hilken, Ken Discher, Emily Witt, Bob Downing, Craig York, Jim Stogdill, G. Charles Yates, Kris at Mercy West ER, Lizzie Boyles, Larry Eustachy, Swen Swenson, Jeff Hessenius, Randy Witke, Mike Ring.

Judy Currier, Gary Dolphin, Amy Olson, George F. Davison Jr., Joni Winterhof Klawitter, Larry Miller, Diane Teppert, Devin Wren, Angie Koehn Kelley, Jeanette Heller, Suzanne Schutt, Steve Hellyer, Gary Barta, Mary Jane Becker. Ruth Teppert, Wayne Svoboda, Matthew Tooman, Evelyn Oltmanns, Mary Godwin, Jacky Haas, Bekah Roehl, Laura Swessinger, Todd Becker, Jo Pulse, B. J. Mumm, Tim Floyd, Sandy Hatfield Clubb, Scott Bruzek, John Walters.

Wendy Potter, Steve Peglow, Howard Pulse, Bill Kopatich, Tim Scheibeler, Scott Ebert, Mary Le Smyth, Randy Thomas, Scott MacDonald, Andy Herzberg, Sarah Benyshek, Marie McCartan, Bobby Hanson, Carol Miller, Jane Burns, Todd Becker, Glenda Hilken, Ted Smyth, Beverly Anna Davis, Gary Snell, Vince Tuss, Charlotte Leckband, Steve Scheffler, Marna Mohr, Ray Hilken, Paul Dawson, Krista Hewitt, Steve Bruzek.

Carolyn Snell, John Akers, Lee Link, Dick [Night Train] Lane, Mike Mahon, Art Filean, Edgars Supstiks, Dave Thomason, Steve Roe, Gloria Filean, Jack Stone, John Rock, Klem Link, Donna Thompson, Russ Schwichtenberg, John Bruzek, Fred Hoiberg.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Not All Of My Christmas Mail Is Pleasant


I'd like to start this by writing about mail.

Not email. 

Christmas mail. 

A lot of the mail most of us receive at this time of year is very pleasant--cards wishing us Merry Christmas with manger scenes, the Baby Jesus, Santa Claus, snow men and snow women, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, friends detailing what they did throughout 2016, stuff like that.

But not all of the stuff the mailman is bringing is good news.

For me anyway.

Like the letter I received a few days ago.

It was from a kind man with the tongue-twister of a name, Siva P. Jagarlapudi.

"Just call him Dr. Jag," one of his nurses told me a number of years ago.

So that's what I'll call him throughout the rest of this essay.

Dr. Jag is a native of India, and he wrote to me and his other patients that he is retiring very soon.

I guess I knew it would happen sometime.

On one hand, I'm happy for Dr. Jag that he's hanging up his stethoscope and the other tools of his trade. 

On the other hand, I'm sad that he no longer will be one of my doctors, treating my blood pressure so it's not too high or too low.

To me, Dr. Jag was much more than a medical person.

Dr. Jag started his letter to me this way:

"Dear My Friend."

He calls everyone "My Friend." 

And he is everyone's friend.

"I am writing to let you know of my intention to retire....My last full day will be December 31, 2016...."

Dr. Jag ended his letter this way:

"I have enjoyed caring for you and your families over the years. You have been kind to me and I sincerely appreciate your friendship and loyalty, and wish you the best in the coming years."

I've dealt with a lot of doctors over the years, and most of them have been excellent, personable people.

But Dr. Jag is one of a kind.

I mentioned a while back that one of my doctors sketched a portrait in pencil of me while I sat talking during my once-a-year appointment.

That was Dr. Jag.
Another time, a few years ago, two West Des Moines policemen in uniform rang the doorbell at my home.

When I opened the door and saw the policemen, I asked, "Am I under arrest for something?" 

"No" one of the guys said, "a doctor is trying to get a message to you."

"What's the message?" I asked.

"The doctor says you need to go to the emergency room at one of the hospitals,"  the policeman said. "Something bad showed up on your bloodwork, and the doctor is worried about you."

So off to the Mercy West Hospital emergency room I went for more bloodwork, wondering if I'd live through the night.

That time, though, the numbers were fine.

Those were years when I didn't yet have a cell phone.

When I arrived back home, Dr. Jag called me on my home phone to tell me there was nothing to worry about.

"My guess is the first test was faulty," he explained.  "Maybe the blood sat in the lab too long. Those things happen."

"Well, thanks for taking care of things," I told Dr. Jag.

In every appointment I had with the doctor after that, he and I laughed about him calling the police about my bloodwork.

He liked to talk about it.

Like I said, there's only one Dr. Jag.

Enjoy your retirement, my friend.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

It's Called Saving the Program


Drake's athletic program has been embarrassed and otherwise kicked around quite a bit lately,
so it's good to know that the Bulldogs' women's basketball team ended a 14-game losing streak to Iowa with an 81-76 victory today at the Knapp Center in Des Moines.

It's comforting to me that the university has at least one team playing at the major-college level.

Congratulations to coach Jennie Baranczyk and her players.

The university and its fans needed that.

A Spectacular Year


Call me a very proud grandfather.

Cole Maly, the oldest of our six grandchildren, graduated from the University of Nebraska this weekend in Lincoln.

Consequently, 2016 turned out to be a spectacularly huge year for Cole and the rest of
us in this family.

Cole and Danielle [pictured] were married July 30 in Norfolk, NE, Danielle was awarded her degree May 7 from Nebraska-Lincoln [the same day Jerika, our oldest granddaughter, graduated from Concordia-Irvine University in California], and now Cole has his university degree.

I'd label that a sensational year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Iowa State's President


My neighbor Al The Health Nut came over on this cold night to have an Italian Dark Roast with me.

Al is pretty good at keeping a conversation lively, and always has a number of current events to discuss. Not much escapes his curiosity, especially after he has read the paper at HyVee.

He usually has one or two smartass comments to make about the paper, but tonight he had other easy targets on his mind.

"It sure looks like the president at Iowa State University is in some hot water over that airplane bullshit," Al said. "Do you think he'll be able to save his job?"

"Al, I've got plenty on my plate right now," l said. "I'm pretty much out out of the loop on presidential stuff, whether it's at Iowa State or anywhere else.

"All I can say is it's a good thing the Iowa State president isn't a football or basketball coach. They seem to be the only guys who get canned at the university level. Whether it's fair or not, the presidents don't get fired, they do the firing."

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I'm Tired Of Waiting


So the Drake men's basketball job has swallowed another coach.

Ray Giacoletti is the latest to show that he's not up to the challenge.

He quit--or was told to quit--after just eight non-conference games and a 1-7 record in his fourth season.

I'm glad Giacoletti finally realized he wasn't getting the job done.

I knew it quite a while ago.

Indeed, I was told that Giacoletti likely wouldn't succeed at Drake before he ever coached a game at the Knapp Center.

We were on a cruise four years ago, to either Alaska or Hawaii, I don't remember which.

Seated at the same dinner table with us one night on the ship were a man and a woman who said they were from Salt Lake City, Utah.

As part of the conversation, I told the guy that Drake, a university I had seen play lots of basketball games since 1959, had a new coach who had earlier been employed at the University of Utah.

"I hope it's not Ray Giacoletti," the guy said.

"It is Ray Giacoletti," I answered.

"Well, good luck," the guy said, "Giacoletti ruined the basketball program at Utah. I don't expect him to do well at Drake."

Giacoletti's records at Utah were 29-6, 14-15 and 11-19.

Actually, Drake would take those records in a heartbeat.

But it wasn't good enough for the folks at Utah.

In that ugly 11-19 season, Utah fans called for his resignation. He obliged, announcing before the final game that he'd quit .

Giacoletti didn't win more games than he lost in his first three seasons at Drake, and he sure wasn't going to win more than he lost in this 2016-2017 season.

I don't know when I've seen worse Drake basketball teams than those coached by Giacoletti.

I'd have to go back to the Rudy Washington or Kurt Kanaskie eras to locate any.

What an embarrassment it is to see these players continue to play poorly and continue to lose at a proud university where Maury John coached the 1968-1969 Drake team to a third-place finish in the NCAA Final Four.

What an embarrassment it is to see this piss-poor coaching at the same university where [who else?] Maury John took three consecutive teams to the NCAA tournament.

How fortunate I was to have been able to witness the brilliant success Maury John and his players had in those seasons.

Actually, I've written this story so many times that I'm tired of it myself.

I've written that--in addition to Maury John--Bob Ortegel, Gary Garner, Tom Davis and his son Keno Davis brought some coaching success to Drake since I've been around here.

I've also written that I told Keno Davis during his only season as the Bulldogs' coach that he'd better enjoy it because stuff like that happens at Drake only every 40 years.

Keno took Drake to the NCAA tournament that season, was named national Coach of the Year, and accepted the Providence job when it was offered.

I didn't blame him.

The Drake coaching job is very difficult. 

However, I don't necessarily subscribe to the thought that the Drake job is the toughest in the Missouri Valley Conference.

No coaching job is easy.

Others have won at Drake, and someone will win there again.

I just hope it's sooner rather than later.

I'm tired of waiting.

Some Like It Hot


I've met my match when it comes to handling Thai food.

Indeed, I know a guy who likes his Thai cuisine even hotter than I like it.

You might recall I recently mentioned that I'm a frequent visitor to the Thai restaurant Zuzap in Clive.

I made a return visit a while back, and mentioned how much I liked the food there.

Barry Crist of West Des Moines read what I wrote, and put this message on Facebook:

"I spent a year in Thailand and love Thai food. I frequent a few other Thai spots in town, but did not know about this one.  I will try it out."

I owed Barry a lunch, so he joined me at Zuzap one day last week.

Thai food can be spicy, but it's not all spicy.

The waitresses at Zuzap and other Thai restaurants around the metro area ask diners how spicy they want the food on a scale ranging from 0 to 5.

I used to do a 3, but now I do a zero and ask for the spice tray. That way, I can control the amount of spice I have.

Barry Crist answered the bell in a bigtime way.

He picked 4 for his spice level.

Hey, listen, I know that's spicy.

But Barry handled it with ease.

He's a pro.

Saturday, December 10, 2016



I've seen tons of collegiate, professional and high school football games in tons of stadiums throughout America.

But I've never attended an Army-Navy game, and I'd like to correct that one of these years.

I watched the entire Army-Navy game on TV today, and I was held captive during every minute of it.

Even when president-elect Donald Trump and his security people entered the stadium in Baltimore after Army had taken a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, and when Trump was interviewed at halftime by CBS-TV announcers Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson.

Danielson suggested to Trump that he name Lundquist the ambassador to Sweden.

Trump didn't say he wouldn't do it, and Lundquist acted like he wanted the job.

This was the final Army-Navy game for Lundquist as a play-by-play announcer.  He's retiring from CBS.

Army won the game, 21-17, to end a 14-game losing streak to Navy, but I cared less about the outcome than I did the atmosphere.

I liked it a lot when the men and women from both academies who weren't in football uniforms marched on the field before the game and at halftime in their snazzy military dress gear, complete with the long coats.

These were the people who will be defending our nation in the years ahead, and it was very emotional to me to see them do all of that marching.

In fact, I wish CBS hadn't wasted time showing the audience a conversation with the Heisman Trophy candidates at halftime.

I wanted to see more marching by Navy and Army.

I liked it when the football players from Army and Navy sang their alma maters following the game.

Pretty emotional stuff.

I liked it when someone said a prayer before the game, and I liked it when fans--especially those from Army--jumped out of their stadium seats to celebrate when their team won.

Kind of reminded me of your basic Iowa upset victory over Michigan at Kinnick Stadium.

I became interested in the football games played by the service academies when I was a kid.

I recall listening on the radio [there was no TV in those days] when Felix [Doc] Blanchard and Glen Davis were running rampant for Army's tremendous teams in that era.

In those days, the thinking was that the football played by the academies was superior than that played by universities and colleges.

No one thinks that way now.

But who cares? Not me.

Throughout my adult life, I've always kept track somewhat of what was going on with those football teams [Air Force has since been added]. 

I just never got the opportunity to be in a stadium when they played.

That's why I hope to make it to a Navy-Army game one of these years. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

It Shocked Me and Most Of America


I thought I had this one figured out.

And be truthful. I'll bet you did, too.

I thought a talented Iowa State basketball team, with a 6-2 record and an all-senior starting lineup, would march into Carver-Hawkeye Arena at Iowa City tonight and overpower 4-5 Iowa.

I was expecting a bloodbath, and that it would be the youthful Hawkeyes who would do the drowning.


The 25th-ranked Cyclones came in flat, the Hawkeyes came out of the chute primed to pull off a huge upset.

They got it.

It was Iowa 78, Iowa State 64 in a game that not only shocked me, but most of America.

Somebody call The Mayor.

Fred Hoiberg knows this kind of stuff isn't supposed to happen to Iowa State.

I know and you know the Cyclones had no business losing.

They should be ashamed of themselves the way they played against an Iowa team that had lost four of its previous five games.

It was a game in which Iowa State was clearly out-played, out-hustled and out-coached.

Obviously, Steve Prohm has some problems with this Cyclone team that trailed by 15 points at halftime.

If he doesn't 't get 'em straightened out quickly, it could be a season very unlike what people expected from a veteran team that has too many good players to be performing like it did tonight.

Peter Jok could care less.

No one in the building was happier after after the game than Jok, the Iowa senior who scored 23 points

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Iowa Plays Florida In Outback Bowl

This just in. That's the cutesy line a few people who think they're cutesy use to announce some news. 

The news is this: Iowa's football team will play Florida in the Jan. 2 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

The game matching two teams with 8-4 records starts at noon and will be on ABC-TV.

Heck, I thought the Hawkeyes would play in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. You just never know what's going to happen on selection Sunday.

 Iowa and Florida know each other pretty well. This will be the third time since 2003 that they've played one another in the Outback Bowl.

Indeed, this will be the fifth time since 2003 that Iowa has played in the Outback. The Hawkeyes  have a 2-2 record there.

This question could be asked: "How much Outback can Hawkeye fans digest?"

All right, that's enough cutesy stuff for now. By the way, today was the first time I've ever used that "This Just In" line, and I probably will never use it again.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ron Gets His Thai Food Fix


After threatening to break the all-time record for turkey consumption in the past week or so, I switched food gears today.

I went to one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall haunts, the Zuzap Thai restaurant at 12871 University in Clive for lunch.

Thai food is among my favorites. Many people [especially those who haven't  tried it] associate Thai food with spicy food.

Well, you darn  right Thai food can be spicy, and some folks  [me included] like it spicy.

But the waitresses at Zuzap always make sure they ask how spicy on a scale of 1 to 5 you want your food.

In the old days, I'd say 3. Now I say, " No spice,  but bring me the spice tray."

The spice tray enables me to control the amount of spices on my food. I'm afraid some people don't even know a spice tray is available in most Thai restaurants.

Zuzap's best lunch deal costs just $8.95.  For that amount, I got shrimp rangoon as my appetizer, tom ka kai soup [which is made from coconut milk, and mine included tofu],  soy milk for my drink, and my entree was mango delight with tofu and mixed vegetables.

I didn't need to dip into the spice rack much. Just a couple of times.

Rice was included with the mango delight, but I didn't have room for that, so I brought it home. I ate it at about 4 p.m.  It was a nice snack.

 So now I've had my Thai food fix for a day or two.