Archive for December, 2011

Some Thoughts on Streetball

December 28, 2011

So it is in life—from sun, to moon, to earth, to night, to day, to you getting up in the morning and going out to play a game of ball. All the rhythms of life are in some way related, one to another.

The First Book of Rhythm by Langston Hughes

So you know, that you’re over the hill
When your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill

Old Folks Boogie by Little Feat

I love to drive past Brea Junior High School on Lambert Road on warm nights when guys are playing basketball under the lights even though I had to quit over a decade ago. I played regularly in the same pickup game for over twenty years (roughly 1980-2000) until my body said, “No mas.” At some point we all must accept that the beat goes on without us.

On Saturdays and Sundays we would meet on the dirty asphalt: Kenny, Mitch, Oscar, Bob, Tony, Carl, Dave, Robert, Michell, Regan, Jeff, Rob, Brian, Don, Andy, Steve, me and whoever else decided to show. Some showed up sporadically; others were there every Saturday and Sunday. Year round unless it was raining, we almost always had enough guys to play five on five full court basketball. Sometimes so many guys showed up that when you lost you’d have to watch three or four games before you could play again.

Streetball has no constitution, but there are rules which vary somewhat from court to court. Two nearly universal rules make it possible for a guy to show up and play almost anywhere.

(Warning: Although I’ve shown up by myself and played at ballcourts in various locals without serious incident, it is always advisable to bring backup when playing with guys you don’t know. And some games should probably be avoided outright. I stopped playing at a particular court in Pomona when a buddy told me that disputes there sometimes involved firearms.)

Rule One: Players call their own fouls and all calls are respected. Play stops any time a player yells “foul,” and his team gets the ball back without any arguing or complaining–well, that’s how it works in theory. But if someone abuses this rule by calling a foul every time he misses a layup, that player will eventually face a barrage of verbal reprimands, sometimes from his own teammates. This is how the game regulates itself.

Rule Two:
The winning team keeps playing while the losers go to the back of the line. At our court next game always went to the five guys who had been waiting the longest, which is a good way to maintain tranquility and keep the games flowing. (At many streetball venues, players are able to call “next” and then choose whomever they want to be on their team–for example, one player might call next and then wait to choose the best players from the team that just lost, ignoring guys who have been waiting for several games.)

Streetball is an institution which functions as a building block of our civil society. Each week we chose to freely associate with one another in order to exercise our appetites for conflict, competition, and fellowship. All sorts of good and bad things can happen when grown men attempt to maintain comity and civility while fiercely chasing a round little ball. Over the years there was often much shouting and bluster, but we were usually able to settle disputes without assaulting one another.

I don’t want to frighten any of my younger readers, but in the age before smartphones, human beings who desired fellowship actually had to talk to the people around them
. And that’s what we did between games, we talked about everything. Sports. Life. The weather. We even talked about the onomatopoetic ramifications of Chick Hearn’s expression, “in-n-out heart BUH-RAKE.” That’s why I miss the guys as much as I miss the game.

Drivers, teachers, lawyers, students, contractors, forklift operators, electricians, surgeons, linemen, entrepreneurs, computer programmers, waiters, painters, carpenters, college professors, air conditioner repairmen. I miss the guys.

by Richard W. Bray

Max y Arroz Picoso (by richard)

December 22, 2011


1 400 gram can of Zanahorias en Escabeche (Sliced Pickled Carrots with Jalapenos)
1 1/2 cups white rice (or brown rice if that’s what you’re into)
3 cups chicken broth
1 chopped bell pepper (or half a stalk chopped celery)
2 teaspoons olive oil

Combine rice, vegetables and broth. Add oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until liquid disappears (approximately 20 minutes).

Thinking v. Feeling

December 17, 2011

Thinking v. Feeling

Poet said We think by feeling
A thought that echoes Hume
No logic-minded being
Would genuflect at tombs

We feel therefore we think
Is what they’re finding out
This unappealing link
Is Descartes turned inside out

With a touch of intervention
From our modern frontal lobe
My breed maintains ascension
On our lovely little globe

Toughest on the block
With more appetite than smarts
Condemned to rule this rock
For the cravings of the heart

by Richard W. Bray

Rough Draft Peer Review WorkSheet and an Amusing Teacher Story

December 9, 2011


I have students bring two copies of their rough drafts. While the students are doing their peer reviews, I scan the other copy, looking at the structure of the essays rather than proofreading them. The students are free to proofread one another’s essays.


1. Turn in one copy of paper to instructor.
2. Take two Peer Review Worksheets.
3. Get into groups of 3-4 Students.
4. Take turns reading papers ALOUD to group.
5. Pass paper clockwise (or counterclockwise if you’re feeling rebellious).
6. Silently read another student’s paper and fill out worksheet.
7. Repeat steps 5 & 6.

Rough Draft Peer Review Sheet

Author: __________________________________________________


Paper Title:_______________________________________________

This paper is ______pages long (excluding Works Cited page)

This paper includes a Works Cited page in MLA format: Yes No

Thesis statement is in paragraph # _____

Copy thesis statement verbatim.

Two enlightening quotations from sources that the author utilized are:


Two notable sentences that the author composed are:


What is the paper’s strongest feature?

An Amusing Teacher Story

During a discussion about ESP, a student informed the class that he possessed a “sixth scent.” Miraculously, I resisted the temptation to say, “You’re telling me, buddy.” (Life rarely provides such a perfect straight line.)

by Richard W. Bray


December 2, 2011



Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean?
Did you forget to turn on the machine?
Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean?
Why do they smell so foul and obscene?
Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean?
They seem to lack all luster and sheen.
Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean?
Why are they yucky and moldy and green?
Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean?
You look confused; don’t you know what I mean?
Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean?

by Richard W. Bray