ON PURELY CHASTE, PRISTINE, AND RANDOM THOUGHTS XXXVI

June 1, 2022

June 1, 2022

Back to another one of our four favorites…here are 20 comments that may (or may not) tickle your fancy.

  • The recent baseball strike can best be described by one word: greed. Both parties were guilty but the players more so.
  • My virology book is finally in publication, due out in late November. Hopefully, this one will sell.
  • I may go forward with a book on hydrogen energy – a hot topic.
  • The recent March Madness tournament was but another reminder on the level of NCAA corruption.
  • I’ve now lost almost all of the players of my basketball team of the 1955-65 era. Unfortunately, death continues to pay us a visit.
  • Can the Mets finally do it??? Let’s go Mets!
  • It was 80 years ago at this time that 76,000 American were subjected to the 60-mile death march by the Japanese invaders in the Philippines.
  • COVID-19 and the Ukrainian war are beginning to take a toll on my mental state.
  • I keep asking colleagues, friends, foes, relatives, etc., about the $20 they owe me…to no avail.
  • My files continue to mount. I’m going to have to get rid of them one of these days.
  • I really believe potable water is the major problem facing society. Unfortunately, my book and two patents on water have yet to be favorably received. I’ve modestly titled one of the patents, “The THEOGEO Process.”
  • I often think about the millions of people our nation has saved.
  • I continue to feel that no group of people have impacted civilization more than the Greeks (my forefathers).
  • I’m making fewer and fewer trips to Astoria, Queens (my earlier abode) which is home to some of the best Greek restaurants.
  • My earlier years in Hell’s Kitchen during the Great Depression is slowly becoming a fleeting memory.
  • Recently returned from Florida after a one-week vacation (our 48th) at the beautiful Sandcastle Resort in Sarasota, Florida.
  • Taking a beating in the stock market – invested in Draftking’s (ugh!). Thankfully, I’ve only a few thousand invested.
  • Finished reading the 2020 book “The Henna Artist” by Alka Josi. This is a must read for those from India, particularly women.
  • I’m unfortunately looking forward to the visit to Saratoga Springs for the races for the 77th (straight) year this August.
  • Both the winters and summers seem milder than what it was nearly a century ago.

I return early next year with another “rambling” article.

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

Basketball Coaching 101 (Facebook)

NEXT POSTINGS

JULY 1:                      On Great Eats V: Pastrami

AUGUST 1:                On the Constitution

SEPTEMBER 1:         On Aging

OCTOBER 1:             On Water

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Here are this month’s three offensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

  1. Try to avoid inbounding the ball in the corner if the opposing team is pressing.
  2. Try to avoid dribbling or passing toward one of the forecourt corners when the opposing team is pressing.
  3. Players should practice their offensive skills whenever and wherever possible.

ON ZZZABUU VI

May 1, 2022

May 1, 2022

You were reintroduced to Zzzabuu one year ago. He had arrived earlier in 2003 from the planet Zzokki in a faraway galaxy, having been dispatched to Earth on a fact-finding trip involving politicians in the United States. More recently, Zzzabuu had been selected once again for a special assignment by The Superiors in 2021 to determine details (both pros and cons) of gambling investment opportunities on Planet Earth. As per instructions from the Superiors, Zzzabuu met with a retired, often confused, outspoken, nefarious chemical engineering professor (who shall remain nameless) in order to obtain background material and guidance prior to preparing his report on this assignment.

As promised, this third of five articles on gambling is concerned with casino gambling. This piece is particularly appropriate since New York State is now expanding casino gambling. In any event, here is my take on this betting activity.

Let’s proceed directly to the bottom line. For me, there are four modes of gambling in casinos: slots, roulette, dice, and blackjack. Before discussing each of these games, I should note two factors: all are games of chance (unlike pari-mutuel wagering – see August 1, 2021 article) and thus all chances of winning are a function of the takeout. Remember, the takeout represents the amount of money returned to the bettor after the result of the bet has been determined, e.g., with a 5% takeout, the casino returns 95% to the bettor and retains 5% as profit. In any event, here is the lowdown on each of the 4 above games of chance.

SLOTS. Depending on the casino, the takeout here ranges from 1-10% with 3-4% a reasonable norm. Although it is the most popular game, I rarely – if ever – play the slots. Why? The takeout is simply too high. The game is easy to play: you simply press a button after inserting your money and wait for the results, hoping for a lot of noise.

ROULETTE. Once the game of royalty, the takeout here is approximately 3.5%. This one is also not for me. The game is easy to play: you put money on red or black and a number ranging from 1 to 35. The roulette wheel is spun and you hope for the circling ball to fall in the right slot.

DICE: My game. Some refer to it as craps. I just love playing dice; it is all I play when I am in a casino. The takeout here can be as low as 0.5%; this effectively means you have close to a 50-50 chance of winning. Here is how I recommend you play. Put your money on PASS and roll the dice. If a 7 or 11 comes up on the first roll, you win and the game ends. If a 2, 3, or 12 comes up on the first roll, you lose and the game ends. If a 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12 doesn’t come up on the first roll, then 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 must come up, and the game continues. Whichever number amongst these six numbers come up on the first roll becomes “your number.” You then continue to roll the dice until either a seven (you lose) or your number (you win) comes up. The game then ends. However, after the first roll, you are provided the option to double your bet on “your number.” You should definitely avail yourself of this opportunity since the takeout on this latter bet is 0%. For example, if you roll a 4 or 10, or 5 or 9, or 6 or 8 on the first roll, the odds of winning become 2 to 1, 3 to 2, and 6 to 5, respectively. That’s it. Do not get involved with any of the other available bets on the dice table.

BLACKJACK. Often referred to as 21. Not my favorite; but it is the game of most of my gambling degenerate friends. The takeout is close to 0%! Many years ago, a group of MIT students started winning at the casinos by “counting.” A book describing their approach makes interesting reading but essentially involves counting cards. In the game, the dealer gets two cards (with one face-up) and the bettor gets two cards. You may request additional cards in an attempt to get as close to 21 as possible, BUT not go over 21. Whoever goes over 21 first loses. If no one goes over, the winner is the player closest to 21. Counting? If a lot of high cards come out during the game, the bettor is at a disadvantage the next game. If a lot of low cards come out, the bettor has the advantage and should increase the bet the next game. How do you count? Here is a simple method. I suggest assigning a -1 to discarded cards that are 2, 3, 4, or 5, and +1 to those that are 10, J, Q, or K. If your total is in the negative regime, increase the bet the next game.

I leave you with this: A day at a casino is a great day out, particularly for seniors. Follow my suggestions and you almost certainly will not get hurt. You want more? Go to the library and pick up a book on casino gambling or simply go on the Internet.

Contact me if you have any questions. Once again, just remember that LOTTO has a 50% takeout, and is therefore an ideal game for those poor in arithmetic.

I return later this year when Zzzabuu will report on sports betting.

P.S. For those readers residing in East Williston, remember to vote NO on the school budget this month.

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

Basketball Coaching 101 (Facebook)

NEXT POSTINGS

JUNE 1:                      Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXXI

JULY 1:                      On Great Eats V: Pastrami

AUGUST 1:                On the Constitution

SEPTEMBER 1:         On Aging

OCTOBER 1:             On Water

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Here are this month’s three offensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

  1. Practice strategies to employ for offense(s) near the end of a game.
  2. Practice strategies to employ when attempting to gain an offensive rebound following a foul shot.
  3. Drive to basket at the end of game if trailing; in effect, help the official blow his whistle.

ON THE ULTIMATE QUIZ

April 1, 2022

April 1, 2022

As indicated in the past, this has become one of my favorites. You are requested to provide the correct answer to the following 20 questions. Credit 5 points for each correct answer. A grade of 85 indicates that you are brilliant. Here we go once again with several of the questions related to baseball and yours truly.

  1. True or false: Queens was established in 1863.
  2. Who published his theory of relativity in 1915?
  3. Who authored “A pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure”?
  4. Who was the star of the movie “The Maltese Falcon”?
  5. What Baseball Hall of Famer recently had a street in Astoria named after him?
  6. Jingle Bells was the first holiday carol to be broadcast from what unique location in 1965?
  7. What is the currency of Greece?
  8. Who is the greatest baseball player of all time?
  9. What was the final score of Don Larson’s perfect World Series no-hitter?
  10. The age of the sun is approximately how many years?
  11. Project Independence is concerned with what county?
  12. What singing great from Astoria belted out “there’s no business like show business…”?
  13. What Baseball Hall of Famer was the only pitcher to beat Walter Johnson four times?
  14. Who was the first batter to bat at Yankee Stadium in 1923?
  15. What songwriter from Astoria wrote the tune Mary?
  16. What group gave their last full concert at Candlestick Park on 8/29/66?
  17. Who recently received a potable water patent that generates water from the flue gas produced following natural gas combustion?
  18. What web-based  word game was recently sold to the New York Times?
  19. Name the author of a soon-to-be published book titled “Virology for Engineers and Applied Scientists”?
  20. Your favorite author was recently essentially barred by an administrator from attending basketball games at what school?

ANSWERS:

  1. It’s hard to believe but it is true.
  2. Albert Einstein. Interestingly, he did not receive his one and only Nobel Prize for this theory.
  3. Benjamin Franklin.
  4. Bogie.
  5. Edward “Whitey” Ford.
  6. A tough one here: Space.
  7. It is not the drachma; the correct answer is the euro.
  8. Full credit here. I would guess Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Mariano Rivera should get the most consideration.
  9. 2-0.
  10. 4.5 billion years.
  11. Nassau County.
  12. Ethel Merman.
  13. Babe Ruth.
  14. A tough one: Whitey “Witt” Witkowski.
  15. George M. Cohen. Was he referring to my wife?
  16. The Beatles.
  17. You all should know this. It’s none other than your favorite author.
  18. Wordle, developed by Josh Wardle.
  19. Once again, your favorite author.
  20. Hofstra University.

I’ll return with another quiz late in the year.

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

Basketball Coaching 101 (Facebook)

NEXT POSTINGS

MAY 1:          On Hofstra’s 2021-22 Basketball Season (to be replaced)

JUNE 1:          On ZZZabuu VI

JULY 1:          On Great Eats V

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Here are this month’s three offensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

  1. Practice one-on-one basketball under the basket.
  2. Practice one-on-one basketball from beyond or just inside the 3-point line.
  3. Practice various strategies for inbounding the basketball at various locations on the court and when one is free to move along the end-line.

THE BOYS OF KILLEEN’S

February 1, 2022

February 1, 2022

            “The great hills of the South Country they stand along the sea; and it’s there,

walking in the high woods that I would wish to be,

and the men that were boys when I was a boy walking along with me.”

The South Country

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a small bar named Killeen’s Tavern located on a side street in Astoria, Queens. The tavern’s history dates back to about 1934 (my birth year). It was owned by a burly Irishman. The whole place was no bigger than 30 ft. by 15 ft., half of it designed like a half-moon bar, and the other half consisting of a few tables, a juke box, a telephone booth, a toilet that was always clogged up, and a kitchen (required by law) that didn’t work. Beer was 12 cents a glass, and a shot of rye was 45 cents. The local crowd had its colorful characters. Damon Runyon would have loved this place. There was “Buster” the late-night singer who crooned Sweet Leylani, Lorraine the Dancer, “Cuz” the night bartender, “Oil Pan” Tom, the landlord Pete the Russian, Freddie “Spook” Stegman – the greatest sport birddog this side of the Mississippi.

Then there was the day bartender – Pat Killeen himself. An impressive 6′ 1″ and burly 275-lb. man with a thick Irish brogue, who, when angry, would roll his black cigar from one end of his mouth to the other. Yes, he could intimidate if necessary. But he was a fair and open-minded individual, always with the best intentions at heart.  And then there was dapper George Connelly – the Sunday bartender of 30 years who many believe James Cagney copied his mannerisms from.

Who were the other inhabitants of the Tavern? Here are some of their names: Scratch, Buddy, Gaylord (your author), Big Dan, The Whale, Jimmy the Greek, Steve the Greek, Weegie, The Rat, Vince the Prince, The Grey Fox, The Scavenger, The Buff, The Snake, The Brat, Tuto, Tex, Superman, The Hawk, Marty Cool, The Phantom, The Bant, The Weedier, Big Fitz, Red, Joey Hot Dog, Sparksy, Dixie, Jake the Weightlifter (all 95 lbs. of him), Bugsy, Louie the Lob, the Dolly Sisters, Filthy Phil, Tony Guido, etc.

Among these notables was a younger contingent known as the Boys of Killeen’s. They were the children of working-class parents who endured the Great Depression and survived the harsh times of that era. Although better off than their parents, the Boys of Killeen’s was a group that appreciated good times, and were not nearly as security conscious as their parents. It was a group that ultimately went on to succeed in the workplace, no doubt influenced by their New York City and Killeen’s experiences.

It has been written that most Long Islanders are displaced New Yorkers. For certain, many in the reading audience have their roots in Queens and Brooklyn, if not Manhattan and the Bronx. The displacement process occurred at different times for different individuals and groups, but for some, despite the emigration to Long Island, the ties of friendship and companionship remain as strong today as it did nearly a century ago.

Rhetorically speaking, it seems like it happened eons ago. But in real time, it all started nearly 70 years ago. There was a group of guys that had just exited their teenage years and were brought together by a common love: basketball. They were headquartered in Astoria, Queens. What follows is a tale of their pilgrimage through time over the last half century plus.

In the late part of 1954, a group of youngsters 17, 18 and 19 years of age decided to rent the empty storage room next to Killeen’s. The Phantom, later Special FBI Agent Ernie Haridopolos, was the instigator for the club and first dubbed it the Parkside Nationals. The room was 20 ft X 15 ft and contained a Coke machine, a 7-ft bar, one card table, a fumigated sofa and six chairs. The bathroom (ugh!) was shared with the adjacent deli. Things soon improved as up went sheetrock, a tile floor, and a phonograph. This was followed with a monthly $50 split-even raffle to pay the $35 rent and for parties (approximately twice a month).

During the early 1950’s, and prior to the massive TV sports agenda available today, Sunnyside Gardens (located of course in Sunnyside, Queens) annually hosted an Open Basketball Tournament that featured all the great amateur stars of that era. The young teenagers who patronized Killeen’s Tavern, located on 24th Street off Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria regularly paid the one-dollar admission fee to see their basketball heroes perform. And then, as if blessed by a magic wand, these same youngsters became basketball stars in their own right.

In late Spring of 1955, they came to the conclusion that “hell, we can play with these guys.” And were they ever so right. They enlisted the help of one of their own with limited basketball ability, (yours truly) with directions to field a team for the upcoming summer tournaments. I was baptized coach and the Killeen’s Tavern dynasty was set in motion. I got Pat Killeen, owner of Killeen’s Tavern, to sponsor the team and made the necessary arrangements to enter the team in the various tournaments. The Killeen’s team was officially born.

All the pieces were put into place when the recruiting process started that would effectively mold the team into a winner over the next dozen years. The talent was primarily gathered locally from Astoria that included Marty Collins (Elon), Steve Afendis (High Point), Joe Montana and John Caso (St. John’s), Bo Erias (Niagara and later Minneapolis Lakers), Don Ryan (Atlantic Christian), Richie Bennett (Bryant High School), Tom Rice (School of Hard Knocks), and Wally DiMasi (Providence). Key amongst this group was Danny Doyle (Belmont Abbey and later the Detroit Pistons). The first year also saw additions to the local mix that included Dennis Costigan (Hofstra), Ivan Kovacs (St. John’s), York Larese (North Carolina), Timmy Shea and George Blaney (Holy Cross), Nick Gaetani(Brooklyn College), Kevin Loughery (St. Johns), Tom Fitzmaurice (St. Bonaventure), Brendan Malone(former Knick assistant coach), Al Filardi (NYU), and the Quarto brothers —Frank (Manhattan College) and Vinnie (Adelphi). All, at one time or other, for over a ten-year period, wore the $2.00 blue T-shirt and $1.50 white shorts that marked them as The Boys of Killeen’s.

Summers came and went, but from 1955 to 1965, summers in New York featured tough basketball. All the Killeen’s Boys came home from school to the Big Apple to sharpen their game on the blacktop. Legendary tales of summer activities about Rockaway Beaches 108th Street Basketball courts – sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the McGuire and Fitzgerald bars to the north – have remained some of this area’s proud historical moments in time. Later came graduation, and winter brought on the Star Journal, Long Island Press, CYO and YMCA leagues, plus the Haverstraw, New City, Jersey City, and the famous Don Bosco Tournaments. It was truly an exciting era. The Boys of Killeen’s were an integral part of that era. The one player who will always be remembered is the aforementioned Danny Doyle. He was a Killeen’s star for many reasons, but Doyle may have said it best with, “I probably was the most heralded player on the team, but was probably the third or fourth highest scorer. In a very real sense, this was a team without a star, and yet every player on the team was a star.”

Over the years, The Boys convened annually in January at my house. When this ritual started over 40 years ago, there was a robust group of over 30 attendees. A few more were added along the way, but the relentless passage of time has taken its toll on The Boys. There was a time when attendance was viewed as mandatory, even if one were sick or located elsewhere. However, the number of attendees reached 10 two years ago and was decreasing at an  exponential rate. Enter Covid-19 and, unfortunately, the ritual ended as The Boys now have but a handful of curtain calls remaining.

I still keep in close contact with the remaining members of The Boys. A problem with The Boys is that a large number have unfortunately left us. Memories of youth, earlier love, Killeens Tavern, the basketball team, etc., now find The Boys often attempting to relive what Hilaire Belloc (in the preamble) was referring to with “it’s there . . . that I would wish to be, and the men that were boys when I was a boy walking along with me.” No matter; it was a great ride for all of us as the life and times of The Boys prepare to ride off into the sunset.

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

Basketball Coaching 101 (Facebook)

NEXT POSTINGS

MARCH 1:                 On Purely Random, Pristine Thoughts XXVI

APRIL 1:                    On Hofstra’s 2021-22 Basketball Season

MAY 1:                      On the EWSD Town Tax Vote

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Here are this month’s three offensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

  1. An assistant (coach) who specializes in developing offenses and / or offensive strategies would help.
  2. Practice dribbling with both hands. In effect, the player should be just as capable driving or dribbling left as well as right.
  3. Practice taking layups when dribbling toward the basket at top speed.