September 15, 2003

New Jersey Factoids.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:49 pm

I do my fair share of bitching about the Garden State. However, I have lived here all my life, and I don’t have any immediate plans to move. That’s because, despite the traffic, political corruption, freezing winters, stifling summers, Robert Torricelli, Frank Lautenberg, John Corzine, and Governor McGreevey, it’s a great place to live.

With that said, here are some interesting things about New Jersey, some of which may surprise you, that I received in an e-mail from a high school classmate: (The bracketed comments are mine.)

New Jersey is a peninsula.

Highlands, New Jersey has the highest elevation along the entire eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida.

New Jersey is the only state where all of its counties are classified as metropolitan areas.

New Jersey has more racehorses than does Kentucky. [These are largely in the part of the state also famous for the manufacture of Laird’s Apple Jack whiskey.]

New Jersey has more Cubans in Union City (1 sq. mi.) than does Havana, Cuba.

New Jersey has the densest system of highways and railroads in the US. [And probably the most farookin’ traffic.]

New Jersey has the most diners in the world and is sometimes referred to as the Diner Capital of the World. [Fridays and Saturdays at about 3:00 a.m., are a special treat.]

New Jersey is home to the original “mystery pork parts” food (no, not Spam): Taylor Ham also known as Pork Roll. [You non-Jersey folks can order it online here.]

New Jersey is also home to the less mysterious but best Italian hot dogs and Italian sausage w/peppers and onions. [Best eaten “down the shore.”]

North Jersey has the most shopping malls in one area in the world, with seven major shopping malls in a 25 square mile radius. [Traffic during Christmas season is really joyous.]

New Jersey is home to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. [This pisses New Yorkers off. Tough shitsky.]

The Passaic River was the site of the first submarine ride by inventor John P. Holland.

New Jersey has 50+ resort cities & towns, some of the nations’ most famous: Asbury Park, Wildwood, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights, Long Branch & Cape May. [These are just some of the places “down the shore.”]

New Jersey has the most stringent testing along our coastline for Water Quality Control than any other seaboard state in the entire country.

New Jersey is a leading technology & industrial state and is the largest chemical producing state in the nation when you include pharmaceuticals.

Jersey tomatoes are known the world over as being the best you can buy. [I know that some will take issue with this, but it happens to be true. So there.]

New Jersey is the world leader in blueberry and cranberry production (and here you thought Massachusetts?)

Here’s to New Jersey-the toast of the country! In 1642, the first brewery in America opened in Hoboken. [‘nuf said.]

New Jersey rocks! The famous Les Paul invented the first solid body electric guitar in Mahwah in 1940.

New Jersey is a major seaport state with the largest seaport in the US, located in Elizabeth. Nearly 80% of what our nation imports comes through Elizabeth Seaport first. [And there is absolutely no organized crime there. /sarcasm]

New Jersey is home to one of the nation’s busiest airports at Newark Liberty International. [The Pearl of the East.]

George Washington slept here. Several important Revolutionary War battles were fought on New Jersey soil, many led by General George Washington.

The light bulb, phonograph (record player) and motion picture projector, were invented by Thomas Edison in his Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory. [We also have a town named Edison.]

We also boast the first town ever lit by incandescent bulbs.

The first seaplane was built in Keyport, NJ.

The first airmail (to Chicago) originated from Keyport, NJ.

The first phonograph records were made in Camden, NJ

New Jersey is home to the Miss America pageant held in Atlantic City.

The game Monopoly, played all over the world, named the streets on their playing board after the actual streets in Atlantic City.

And Atlantic City has the longest boardwalk in the world.

New Jersey has the largest petroleum containment area outside of the Middle East countries. [We worry about that sometimes.]

The first Indian reservation was in New Jersey, in the Watchung Mountains.

New Jersey has the tallest water tower in the world. (Union, NJ)

New Jersey had the first Medical Center, in Jersey City. [Jersey City and Hudson County have a rich history of political corruption that many places have unsuccessfully tried to duplicate.]

The Pulaski Skyway, from Jersey City to Newark, was the first highway of its type.

NJ built the first tunnel under a river, the Hudson. (Holland Tunnel).

The first organized baseball game was played in Hoboken, NJ, which is also the birthplace of Frank Sinatra.

The first intercollegiate football game was played in New Brunswick, NJ in 1889. (Rutgers College played Princeton) [Rutgers won.]

The first Drive-in Movie theater was opened in Camden, NJ.

New Jersey is home to both of NEW YORK’S professional football teams.

The first radio station and broadcast was in Paterson, NJ.

All New Jersey natives: Sal Martorano, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Jason Alexander, Queen Latifa, Susan Sarandon, Connie Francis, Shaq, Judy Blume, Aaron Burr, Joan Robertson, Ken Kross, Dionne Warwick, Sarah Vaughn, Budd Abbott, Lou Costello, Alan Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, Marilynn McCoo, Flip Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, Whitney Houston, Eddie Money, Linda McElroy, Eileen Donnely, Grover Cleveland, Walt Whitman, Jerry Lewis, Tom Cruise, Richard Wojewodzki, Joyce Kilmer, Bruce Willis, Caesar Romero, Lauryn Hill, Ice-T, Nick Adams, Nathan Lane, Sandra Dee, Danny DeVito, Richard Conti, Joe Pesci, Joe Piscopo, Robert Blake, John Forsyth, Meryl Streep, Loretta Swit, Norman Lloyd, Paul Simon, Jerry Herman, Gorden McCrae, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta, Phyllis Newman, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Eva Marie Saint, Elisabeth Shue, Zebulon Pike, James Fennimore Cooper, Admiral Wm.Halsey,Jr., Dave Thomas(Wendy’s), William Carlos Williams, Ray Liotta, Robert Wuhl, Paul Robeson, Ernie Kovacs, Joseph Macchia and of course………Frank Albert Sinatra and “Uncle Floyd” Vivino.

Thanks to Marolyn.

Basketball? No thanks.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:26 am

I’m not much of a sports fan, although I can occasionally enjoy a football or baseball game, even though it requires a rather large investment in time. But, basketball? I really think basketball is a dumb game.

Now, if you’re one of the millions of basketball fans, kindly reach down and unbunch your undies. If you like basketball, that’s fine. I don’t think less of basketball fans, and I am not trying to dissuade you of your love of the game. I am just taking advantage of my tiny place in the blogosphere to express my thoughts on that game that was, after all, invented in 1891 when James Naismith hung a couple peach baskets in the gym in an effort to get a bunch of lazy jocks to exercise during the cold winter months.

Here are some of the reasons why I don’t much care for basketball or “basket ball” (as it was originally known).

Basketball is heavily populated with genetic outliers.
Basketball is a game for TALL people – very TALL people. People of average height and short people need not apply. Frankly, it is difficult for me to be impressed to see a seven feet tall guy jump in the air and plop the ball in the basket with slightly more effort than it takes me to get a coffee cup from the top shelf in the kitchen cabinet.

Now, I know many of you are probably thinking that all sports, to one extent or another, seek out genetic outliers. So, if the genetic cards you’ve been dealt make you neckless, six a half feet tall, and three hundred pounds, football might be your game. Similarly, if you are very short in stature and weigh in at 90 pounds while holding a radiator in their hands, you might be sought out to be a jockey.

However, it seems different with basketball. If you’re a kid who at 16 or 17 is tickling seven feet tall, I’ll bet you hear virtually every day of your life, “Hey, you must play basketball.” What if the kid thinks basketball is a dumb game? I’ll bet that for kids like that it’s easier just humor everyone and play the damned game rather than having to spend your life explaining why it is you’re not a basketball player.

Hell, if somewhere a nine-foot tall guy were to surface, the NBA teams would fight tooth and nail for his services. Then we could just watch this guy reach up and effortlessly drop the ball in the basket. Thrilling. Dumb.

“Dribbling” – Duh.

The original thirteen rules written by James Naismith did not permit a player to move with the ball. The ball could only be advanced by passing it to another player. One day, some smartass (undoubtedly a genetic outlier, taller than everyone else), got the bright idea to pass the ball to himself, thereby permitting him to advance the ball simply by repeatedly tossing it up in the air and catching it.

This self-passing became part of the rules. At a later time, someone had the swell idea that you could move with the ball as long as you did bouncy-ball with it while moving. And, as if this bouncy-ball thing wasn’t dumb enough, someone decided to call it “dribbling.” Dribbling? What a dumb choice of words. What does bouncing a ball on the floor have to do with dribbling? One wonders why it was not called “drooling.” Then again, it could have been worse. The bouncy-ball thing could have been called “barfing” or “farting.”

Grown men doing bouncy-ball. Dumb.

I hate the sounds.
Basketball makes bad sounds. To me, the sounds of the bouncy-ball and the sneakers squeaking against the floor are most unpleasant. Oh yeah, don’t forget the horn that blasts at the end of the periods. Who could possibly like that sound? Dumb.

Foul shots.
These are really dumb. When someone commits a foul, the game stops while the genetic outlier stands directly in front of the basket and tosses it in most times. But, before he tosses it in, we are treated to a little more bouncy-ball. This leads me to wonder why these highly paid, very tall people ever miss, and why they have to do the bouncy-ball thing before the toss it into the basket? Dumb.

Basketball (particularly professional basketball) is a haven for felons of all descriptions.
Now I know that basketball does not have a monopoly on its participants being criminals. But it sure seems like basketball leads the way in this department. Don’t these guys know that if they were not basketball players, they would be largely unemployable? Dumb.

Suggestions to improve the game.
Far be it from me to criticize basketball without being prepared to offer suggestions for rule changes that I think would improve this otherwise dumb game.

Solving the genetic outlier problem.

Simply raising the basket won’t do it. It will still be a game for genetic outliers. I have a more creative solution. Install three baskets of varying heights on each end of the court.. Short guys can only shoot at the low basket, average guys can only shoot at the average height basket and the outliers have to shoot at the high basket. Short and average guys would have a fair chance. And, who knows? Maybe it might be that some day people who are five feet tall will be regularly asked, “Hey, are you a basketball player?”

There is still the problem of the outliers preventing the short guys from shooting. Don’t bother me with details. I’m working on that.

A creative alternative to “dribbling.”
How does this sound? Scrap dribbling altogether, because – let’s face it – bouncy-ball is dumb and is better left to children. I suggest that the rule should be that a player can run with the ball, but he has to sing all the while he running. I think Broadway tunes would be nice. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear a nice baritone rendition of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” rather than the sound of bouncy-ball? It would make the game much more pleasing to the ear.

I would be willing to consider alternatives to Broadway tunes. Rock? Country-Western? Perhaps each player should be permitted to select his own songs. However, I would not, under any circumstances, permit rap, as rap is not music, and it is even more offensive to the ears than the sound of bouncy ball.

Finally, “singing” would be an accurate description of what is actually happening, rather than “dribbling,” which to me describes an unattractive salivation thing, not the bouncy-ball it actually is.

A solution for the other offensive sounds.
Now what about the squeaking sneakers and that awful, blasting horn?. No problem. The game should be played on a carpet, because once bouncy-ball is done away with, there is no need for a wooden floor. No more wooden floor, no more annoying sneaker squeaks. Simple.

As for that hateful horn, I suggest that it be replaced by three Alpenhorns playing beautiful harmony. Much easier on the ears.

A better approach to dealing with fouls.

As noted above, watching foul shooting (along with the obligatory pre-shot bouncy-ball) is boring. The other problem with the way fouls are currently handled is that the person committing the foul is not punished properly. There is no real disincentive to bad behavior on the “carpet.” My suggestion is that when a player commits a foul, the other team automatically gets a point, thereby doing away with the foul shot thing. But that’s not all. I also think that the person committing the foul has to be properly humiliated for his bad conduct. I, therefore, propose that the person committing the foul be forced to wear lipstick and a tutu for the remainder of the game in which he committed the foul and for all of the following game as well.

The solution for the too-many-felons problem.
It is obvious that the NBA does not care whether a good player also happens to be a felon. My solution? Fine. Let the social misfits play. However, they have to wear a ball and chain during the game. That will provide a disincentive to the players who may be considering the commission of a felony, it would make the team owner less likely to keep a felon on the team, and finally, it would protect the fans from these guys who really ought to be in jail.

So, that’s my take on basketball.

I much prefer synchronized swimming.

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