Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving in Starkvegas Golf in the Kingdom report

daughter Nelle and moi above,
granddaughters Avery, Jordan and Grandfossil, below
After stuffing ourselves with "Jewish" (smoked) turkey and home-baked turkey and many trimmings and desserts yesterday afternoon, about 20 members of the lost tribe of Israel and about 10 people from a house nearby climbed into a Mississippi State bus at the home of my daughter Nelle and her hubby John, and off to Davis-Wade Stadium we went to sit in one of the private boxes Nelle said was a perk of John's job as Mississippi State Athletic Director, otherwise they could not afford it. 
Earlier in the day, during my conversation with one of the "in laws", who had driven over from Atlanta earlier in the day with his wife, maybe she was the in-law, he mentioned that he loved playing golf. When I asked what his handicap was, he said about 14. I said, well, that's low enough for golf to drive you crazy. You pay golf? No, used to. Was nearly a scratch golfer once, long time ago. But my back is too wonked for me to play now. One swing, I'm in back surgery perhaps.
I asked him if he'd ever read Golf in the Kingdom? No, he said. He'd never heard of it. He'd read lots of golf books, though, including Inner Golf, which, I said, was a spinoff from "Inner Tennis." But Golf in the Kingdom is something else entirely. Sometimes the announcers at televised pro golf tournaments mention the book. You've heard it said that golf is an X-ray of the soul? Yes. Well, that came from Golf in the Kingdom

He looked it up online, found Michael Murphy had written it. Said, he had read several of Murphy's books, but not this one. I said, if you have read Murphy, then you know he is a bit on the mystical side. I read somewhere that Murphy followed Jack Nicklaus around, because he believed Niklaus was able to use his mind to direct the flight of golf balls he had hit.

The in-law punched some buttons on his I-phone and said the book would be delivered to his office on Monday. I said the book is in two parts, the novela, and then post-script analysis by the main character, trying to make more sense of what he had experienced that day on the golf course in Scotland with two golfers he had bumped into on the 1st tee. The novela is what I felt was important when I read it, I said.
We got to talking about golf swings, and about pronation of the wrists during and following impact. He said he was having trouble getting the club head (and the ball) to turn over. He said he had his clubs in the trunk of his car and was going to play golf in Starkville this afternoon. Would I go outside with him and take look at his swing? Sure, I said. So out to his car we went. But then, the temp had risen from maybe 25 F that morning to maybe 50 F. 
He opened his car's trunk and brought out his golf bag and reached for the driver. I said, just get the 7-iron. John and Nell's home was built with other homes on an old cow pasture. Rolling land. Might have made a great golf course. He took a stance with his feet on the driveway and the 7-iron on the grass beside the driveway. I said, get your feet onto the grass, too, so they will be on the same level with the clubhead on the ground.
He took a practice swing. Dang, he had a darn good swing. I told him so. He took several swings. I saw he was slightly collapsing his left wrist at the top of the backswing (right hand image below) and showed him, by holding his wrist straight (flat) for him (left hand image below), and by taking a backswing with the 7-iron and collapsing my wrist at the top of the backswing, and then I kept my wrist straight, so he could see what I meant about that, too. I also demonstrated inverting the wrist (middle image below), like the #1 golfer in the world right now, Dustin Johnson, used to do, but now he does it more like the left hand image below.
I put a leaf on the ground and said, pretend that's the golf ball. Let me see you address it like you are going to hit it. He addressed the leaf. It was way forward in his stance. Off his left toe. I said, move your feet to get the leaf in the middle of your stance. Normally, it is difficult for a golfer to make that kind of adjustment, because the familiar stance is really ingrained. But he made the change easily. Like this? Like, was I serious? Yes, like that.
I said, generally, the shorter the club (the higher the number of the club), the farther back in your stance you place the ball, to help you strike down into the ball first, then into the ground. With a driver, the longest club, you might want the ball off your left toe, if you want to hit a power fade, otherwise, off the left heel. He said he wanted to stay away from fades, which are when the ball goes from left to right after it's struck. I told him to take a swipe at the leaf from the new stance. He swung and struck the leaf perfectly, then the grass and turf just head of the ball.

He walked over to his bag and got out a wedge, the shortest club, and a couple of balls. He had the ball in the middle of his stance and took an easy swing and struck the ball perfectly and it flew up high with a tailing draw, meaning he had turned the club head over during impact, He hit 3 more easy wedges, with the same result. He asked if I wanted to hit some shots? No thanks. I don't want back surgery. We headed in to eat.

Before we came outside, I had told him that Golf in the Kingdom is about playing golf the old way. You play every shot as it lies. No improving the position of the ball, no rolling it with the toe of with shoe or a club. No mulligans. You count every stroke. I had come to approach life like that, and golf was a metaphor for it.

The first afternoon, an in-law named Peter and I got to talking about global warming. He was dead on about human beings causing it. However, I said, historically, the planet has had warming and cooling cycles. And how much of today's global warming is due to that? Peter said, probably not much, because that kind of global warming took hundreds of thousands of years. What we have now is just a century of it.

I said I thought he is right, and I do not see humanity doing anything about it. Humanity is too stuck in its ways. Depends too much on oil. I have run for public office in the Florida Keys 9 times. When people ask me what I think the keys should do about global warming? I say, Florida used to be mostly covered by ocean and that's going to happen again, it seems. Move to where the ocean won't cover the land.😊

I said, sometimes the oceans have covered the land really fast. Polar axis shift. Such as what caused the planet to shift so that woolly mammoths were flash- frozen in Siberia and when they are found today and thawed out, they are cooked and eaten. The only explanation was the planet's rotated fast on its axis. Perhaps from a big meteor strike. (Perhaps from angel meddling, I did not say.)

I told Peter about this website. Said, my post the day before was all about Roy Moore. And much of the post the day before that was about Moore. I told Jordan and Avery that, too. As I had heard from their grandmother and their mom that they are social activists. Not as Republicans. When I told Peter goodbye this morning, he said he will be reading my blog. I told me he had my sincere commiserations and I wished him the best. Lucky him, living in Eugene, Oregon.

I got a chance to talk one on one with Jordan yesterday afternoon, before we took the bus to the game, which started about 6 p.m. last night. She had told me that she wants to go to law school. And then to get more active than she already is in trying to make a difference. She now works and writes for USA Today, in Atlanta.

When she told me what law schools she is looking at, I said two of them are great law schools, but they are in dangerous cities. The other law school is not in a dangerous city and is a good law school. The University of Alabama School of Law. If you live in Alabama, then that will give you a leg up getting in, I think.

Jordan said she has not yet taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). I said, back then I took it, we did not study for it. We just took it. Nor did we study for college boards back then. We just took them. Really? Really. I scored 612, as I recalled, on the LSAT, which was pretty high, but nothing like the 750-800 scores of Harvard or Hasting law school applicants. I don't have their kind of mnds.

I said, after you get out of law school, you should try to get on board with Ralph Nader's organization. Or perhaps the ACLU. Or perhaps the US Department of Justice. I would steer clear of Southern Poverty Law Center, because it has been targeted by right wing extremists - bombs and such. Nader used to take on giants, like General Motors, the US Government. Really? Yeah, really. Product liability. Chemical toxins. Maybe you interview with them even before you go to law school. With your journalism experience and a law degree, you might be really attractive to them. Or to the ACLU or the US Department of Justice. But I fear for you going with Southern Poverty Law Center.

I told Jordan my view of crusading. You go whole hog. But you view it all as theater, and you try to keep a part of yourself detached, a witness of you and the entire process. If you lose the witness, if you merge with the crusade, then it's like a religion, you can get lost, then it's hard to dig yourself out of it. Your mom was all for Hillary Clinton. Then, she learned more about Hillary. Now, as you know, she's not all for Hillary, who, in her own way, is as bad as Donald Trump. The Democrats lost the White House last year, because they ran Hillary. They could have won with another candidate. Trump should be writing thank you letters to the Democrats, Hillary, Wikileaks and Putin.

When I had asked Avery if she was thinking about going to law school?, she said, No, emphatically. I laughed, said there are other ways to make a difference. She was born too late. She should have been born during the Woodstock era. She is an artist. I had showed her and Jordan my posts for the past two days, with my aboriginal mostly female theme art in it. I had said, what this world needs way more of is the feminine. A heard some amens.

When we left the game at halftime last night, in Jordan's car, which she had parked at the stadium earlier in the day, in case some people wore out and wanted to leave early, I told Avery about a woman I once was with who went to Antioch College because in its part of a college catalogue, that school only had one rule: Shoes required at graduation. 

I asked Avery if the college she attends in California requires students to wear shoes to class? No. In fact, a fellow student, whose parents were rich lawyers, wore no shoes, and one of his male professors, who was well off, bought him a pair of shoes to wear to school. Which defeated his purpose? Yes, Avery said.

I said, I imagine where you are in California, there are a lot of really different kinds of people, who do not "fit in" mainstream America. Correct. I used to live in Bolder, Colorado, and then in Santa Fe, where it was like that. And it's like that in Key West. And it was like that in Encinitas, above San Diego. And there are other places like that. Your grandmother Dianne and I saw "Hair" in Los Angeles. And "Jesus Christ Superstar" there. You saw "Hair"? Yep. It's being brought back, Avery said. 

I asked her if she seen the movie, "Brother From Another Planet?" No. Never heard of it. How about "Man Facing Southeast"? No. "Brother Son, Sister Moon", about Francis of Assisi? No. Great counterculture films, I said. You and your friends will really like those movies. I will write down the names of those movies.

I got busy and forgot to do it. I also forgot to mention, "Stranger in a Strange Land." I wrote them down now. Stranger in a Strange Land novel is better than the movie.

A Mississippi State home football game is a celebration, a pageant. For the players, for the cheerleaders and band and majorettes, and for the fans. A theatrical production, with plenty of rock concert volume amplified music like you might hear on, say, a cruise ship parked in the Key West harbor. Really loud.

I barely could hear the tens of thousands of ringing cowbells.

It started making my head hurt. But then, I never have cared for really loud music, unless it was music I really liked *:D big grin

I never saw anything like that at a football game in Tuscaloosa, nor at Vanderbilt, where I met Nelle's mom. Nor anywhere. Nelle said, it only happens at Mississippi State home games.

It did not seem to bother the Mississippi players, who dominated Mississippi State until the end of the 4th quarter, when state scored 22 points and got within 3 points of Mississippi's 31 points. Two more minutes, State might have won.

State might have won anyway, but its star quarterback, team leader, leading rusher and passer, was injured on the 2nd series of State downs, a broken or dislocated ankle, and he was carried off the field in a vehicle, out for the rest of the season. State's backup quarterback was a pure freshman. Highly touted, but very little game experience.

State turned the ball over 5 times before the 4th quarter, killing drives that looked like they would put points on the board. I gave up watching the game on TV, after Mississippi made it 31-16 midway into the 4th quarter. 

I wished this morning, on learning the final score, that I had watched the game until the end. That would have been Golf in the Kingdom, playing every shot as it lies. I sure hope I did not jink the Bulldogs by turning off that TV.

Both teams had hard games last Saturday. I was amazed at how well the players held up in last night's grueling cross-state-rivalry grudge match, with only 5 days of rest. 

And, I was really bummed out at the game over State's quarterback being knocked out of the game. That was part of why I left with Jordan and Avery at halftime. Another part was, I wanted to spend time with them away from other people. And, I figured the bus ride home would take a long time, and I am an old man and don't have the stamina I once had.

The rumor mill has been that other colleges are trying to hire away State's head football coach. About that, a Birmingham childhood friend emailed me yesterday morning:

Happy Thanksgiving my friend. It warms my heart to read about your venture!! Now, what side of the conversation line is this - Dan Mullen staying or leaving??   Best to all of the best of the Bashinsky bloodline and other gathered ancillary frollickers!!!

I replied:

Thanks, hope today is good for you and your family. I imagine Mullen could live out his days at State, happy as a clam, but considerably richer than. If he and his family like a small town in the middle of Mississippi. He could be like the Kansas State coach. I suppose schools like Mississippi, LSU, Tennessee, Florida and Arkansas would love to pay him a lot more. Maybe he will go for that and learn if he ends up happier, or in a graveyard.

I repeated that to Dianne during the drive back to Tuscaloosa this morning. I said, by graveyard, I meant both a coaches graveyard and a cemetery.

A lot more happened on the Starkvegas golf course the past two days, some of which perhaps will find its way into a later post at this website, and some of which is nobody else's business. It was a fabulous experience for me, who historically does not do large groups well. It made my heart sing.

Yet my home for some time is Key West, and as things now stand I'm headed back there soon. Tonight, though, Dianne and I are driving to Birmingham to have dinner with a very old friend from the University of Alabama school of law (a student back then) and his daughter, whom I have not seen since she was about three years old, although we have had some email back and forth during the past few years.

Stay tuned, I suppose.
Nelle, Dianne and me
in Moe's Pub, Tuscaloosa,
September 2017

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