Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Barry Obama, gym rat

Another reason to like Barak Obama. He was a gym rat:

"A real rat baller," says an old high school teammate, Alan Lum. "He'd have a basketball with him in class sometimes so that between classes, when we had an hour or so, he'd get in a pickup game on the outdoor courts."

"Tall and skinny, lithe -- he was angular," says Marshall Poe, a pickup game buddy from Obama's law school days. "Because he didn't have any weight, he had to go up and over people to get the ball. He had good ups."

Now Barack Obama, presidential candidate, he once was Barry Obama, basketball player, maybe 6-1 and 170, quick, aggressive, a lefthander, a slasher with a nice double-pump shot in the lane.

A Dwyane Wade type?

"George Gervin," says Poe.

He adds this disclaimer: "Obama didn't have much of an outside shot. He wasn't a terribly skilled player, but he was good enough to play on the center court." The Harvard intramural gym had one real court with two narrow ones alongside. "The scrubs played on the side. Obama always played on the center court."

No serious basketball player has been president. Dr. Naismith, alas, put up his peach basket too late for the towering rail-splitter, Abe Lincoln. The Princeton All-American, Bill Bradley, never got much past midcourt in a presidential race. Al Gore came the closest, long after playing on Harvard's freshman team, but one doubts the old vice president had any ups, let alone good ones."

Obama. A year ago, visiting American troops in Kuwait, he played ball with soldiers from his home state, Illinois. "They might've expected an old, gray senator," says his deputy press secretary, Tommy Victor. "Instead, they get an athlete who relates to them on a different level." Obama's Occidental coach, Mike Zinn, quoted by The Washington Post: "Limited shooting range, although fairly accurate from 12 feet in. Very athletic, fast, good jumper ... a very good defender ... scored about 10 points and had six or seven rebounds per game."

At age 45, Obama still can play. Word comes from Craig Robinson, the fourth-leading scorer in Princeton basketball history and now the head coach at Brown. It's also true that Robinson is Obama's brother-in-law, a kinship that gains you nothing on the playground. Robinson says: "He can hold his own in any pickup game. He's athletic, and he knows how to play the game. So he can fit in with all kinds, from the completely dangerous to the highly skilled. As anyone knows with knowledge of pickup games, that's quite a compliment."

How cool would that be? Instead of having a cheerleader for a president, we can have a slashing small forward.

By the way, I was trying to explain to Ellie the other day the difference between a jock and the gym rat. In high school, I was definitely not a jock, but I was a gym rat. Here is how I understand the difference: A jock is somebody who plays sports in large part because of the social identity that it brings, while a gym rat is more of an addict to a sport (usually basketball). The jock, from a outside, has a healthy social life. The gym rat is more solitary and, to outside observers, appears a bit twisted and sick -- a user who just can't stop. The gym rat's identity is, contrary to what some might think, more thoroughly based on a sport itself than the jock is. Both like to succeed in their sports, but for the gym rat the joy is intrinsic to the game. For the jock, the joy is picking up chicks after the game.

Does that make sense?


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Some reflections on February

Well, we haven't blogged much lately. My apologies. The big reason for this is, principally, that my book is going to be published! Yes, Suny Press is going to publish my little treatise. A few weeks ago, they sent me a cheery acceptance letter, along with a very intimidating 10 page contract to sign. I will be making 10% off each book sale! That doesn't sound too bad, but when you consider the average academic book only sells around 600 copies, it doesn't really amount to much. If I make $100, I'll be lucky. Anyway, SUNY wants the completed manuscript by March 1st, so I have been breaking my back trying to get the thing in a polished form. A book is a big deal in my mind as it constitutes a form of immortality. A little piece of me will be sitting in libraries all over the world. Oh death, where is thy sting!

In other news, we had a huge snowstorm last week. We got about 10 inches of snow. Not bad if it were just that. But, on top of the snow, we got several inches of freezing rain. For those of you in the west, freezing rain is a terrible midwestern thing. The rain comes down and freezes almost immediately wherever it hits. So, last week we had about 10 inches of snow covered by about five inches of ice. Shoveling the driveway was like breaking up concrete (well, not that bad, but you get the picture). And you could just forget about driving anywhere.

If you haven't noticed, OSU will probably be #1 in men's basketball next week since Florida lost. I'm not impressed, actually. This town has barely recovered for the embarrassing Buckeye performance in the football nation championship game. I didn't blog about that, but it really was an interesting experience. I have only rarely had "my teams" playing for championships (Utes 1998, Jazz 98 and 99, Illinois 2004). I have never really been in the position where it was expected, even taken for granted, that my team would win. That is, I have never been anything but an underdog in any championship game. Let me tell you, it is a completely different experience watching a team that is expected to win big utterly bomb than it is to watch an underdog team fail to beat the odds. It was completely humiliating.

Finally, ya'll might be interested to know that we have entered the world of bourgeois materialism. In the past few months we have acquired 1) an MP3 player (for running), 2) a cell phone (for babysitters to call us) 3) a second car (a rusty 92 Geo Prizm given to us by some friends), and 4) a laptop. So, if you are playing "keeping up with the Warnick's" the gauntlet has been thrown down.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Pictures from Autumn and Winter 2006

The autumn began as I shaved my summer goatee.

Nora was, surprise, a princess for Halloween.

Andrew was a pumpkin.

On Thanksgiving, Dad Warnick, Ellie, and I all ran the Columbus "Turkey Trot" -- a fun five mile race.

We had the Warnick parents out for Thanksgiving, along with Ellie's sister, Emily.

Cute Andrew picture.

Another cute Andrew picture -- setting up for Christmas.

Andrew's first birthday -- December 17.

First of three Christmas celebrations. This time, at home before going to Utah.

Then, at the Merkley's house on Christmas morning.

Then, at the Warnick's on Christmas afternoon.

Then, we saw Anna done get married.

More to come...