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One NBA Fantasy Draft

October 22nd, 2019 · No Comments · Basketball, Fantasy Baseball, NBA

As the NBA season opens tonight, let’s pretend and believe some readers are interested in seeing how it went for a semi-ancient (both the league and the owners) in a six-team league.

Who went first?

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 8: Malta

October 19th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

I became aware of the island country of Malta when I was a kid, reading about how 500 Knights Hospitaller led the defenders against the Ottoman Empire in the Great Siege of Malta, in the year 1565.

It is a wonderful yarn, the story of the few and the outgunned who clung on tenaciously against an empire that had suffered very few setbacks in its push to make the Mediterranean into an Ottoman lake.

That the defense was led by the 500 members of a military order that took its name from running hospitals during the Crusades … made it that much better. The notion of an elite force of fighting men with utter devotion to a noble cause, well, it’s hard for the western mind to resist.

What I expected as we steamed toward the little island midway between Sicily and Tunisia was some sort of way of investigating the battle.

What did I get?

A short day filled with disappointment.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 7: Which Sea Is This, Anyway?

October 16th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

We have entitled this travelogue of our 10-day outing “Cruising the Mediterranean”. But weren’t we in some other seas entirely, to get where we are now, headed south for Malta?

It can be argued that the Adriatic and Ionian seas are the only watery areas the Celebrity Constellation has passed over, in the past week.

But we have chosen to think of the bigger picture.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 6: Corfu

October 15th, 2019 · No Comments · Austria, tourism, Travel

This was a city that mattered almost 3,000 years ago, a stepping stone from Greece to Italy. Unfortunately for Corfu, armies seeking to get across the final miles of the Adriatic Sea … aren’t as common as they were in the days of the Greeks and Romans.

Corfu at times made me think of the more battered parts of Los Angeles, from rusting cars parked in junk yards right on through the smog that cast a pall over the horizon.

We went ashore at our only Greek port of call on this cruise and decided, for lack of anything else particularly compelling, to take a cab up the mountain behind Corfu town to a museum dedicated to Achilles, one of the heroes of Homer’s Iliad.

The Achilleion, as it is rendered from Greek to English, at least has an interesting back story.

It starts with the glamorous Empress Elisabeth, taken as a wife in 1854 by Franz Josef, top man in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which at the time was a major player in European politics.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 5: Kotor

October 14th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Tourists

The world is full of weird little places. Just have to go out and look around a bit, and you will find one.

Such as Kotor, a walled city of 13,000 people in the Republic of Montenegro, which has been independent only since 2006 — and which I can add to the list of Nations I Have Visited.

From Dubrovnik, a Croatian town with lots of character, we floated down the Adriatic to Kotor, a Montenegrin town with … lots of character, but not refined to occasional boredom, as is the case in Dubrovnik.

Kotor is surrounded by mountains, and is at the end of a winding channel of seawater that bores deep into the hills and provides some fine places to fish or sail or build a walled city.

It also is a very good place to invite stray cats to become semi-members of the family. But more on that in a moment.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 4: Dubrovnik

October 13th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Tourists

Dubrovnik has had an interesting century or so. During most of that 100 years it was known for plenty of sun, steep geography, charm and low cost.

Then came a war, in the early 1990s, and a generation later something far less serious, but perhaps more thoroughly advertised, the ultra-popular cable-TV series “Game of Thrones”, much of which featured scenes filmed in and around Dubrovnik — mostly because it has buildings that look medieval.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 3: Split

October 12th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

The Croatian city of Split is best-known for one big series of buildings: Diocletian’s Palace.

Diocletian was the emperor of Rome from 284 to 305 AD when he stepped down and moved in to a “palace” that compares favorably with any vanity project dreamed up in the Western world.

Diocletian’s Palace was built as his retirement home, and he might even have done enough for the empire to warrant the expense of a seven-acre (305,000 square feet) seaside site in what is now northern Croatia.

Diocletian was born to a family of low social status, but he had an outstanding career as a soldier that led to him becoming emperor in 284.

Unlike just about all the other emperors who mis-ruled Rome in the third century, Diocletian won victories in the field. He also had several good ideas about balancing the books of the empire, and how to defend it from inevitable invasions from outsiders.

He often is considered the key individual in reinvigorating a teetering empire and setting it on track to survive another 150 years.

He is little-known to much of the world, 1,700 years after he died, in 311 AD, but his reforms as well as the physical existence of his palace, much of which still stands, make him the leading citizen of Split, Croatia’s second-biggest city. Which we visited on a warm and sunny day.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 2: More Venice

October 11th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

Sometimes vacations feel onerous. “You mean we have to get up at the crack of 8? To see important stuff? Again?”

Originally, the main effort to scurry around Venice, one of the world’s great cities, was to have come today.

But that was before the accidentally sublime night we had in the city the night before. (See yesterday’s entry.)

Within a few minutes we came around. Of course we were taking the water taxi back over to the Saint Mark’s Square.

Because this time we would be moving around the major sites of the city while a professional tour guide told us cool stuff and answered our questions.

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Cruising the Mediterranean, Day 1: Venice

October 10th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

Magic gondola ride

Most every traveler loves Venice. Except, it seemed, me.

Venice? Not eager to go, not on any trip I made to nearby Italian cities or to nearby Austria.

But I apparently had been influenced by those who suggest the Queen of the Adriatic is overrun by tourists, or sometimes smells bad, or is too expensive to consider — because I had never made a real attempt to travel there.

That changed today, and I found I was completely wrong in my thinking, vis a vis Venezia.

We saw the city at its best tonight, and it made for some wonderful moments and memorable scenes, and left me grateful my feelings about the place had been exposed as … oh, stupidity.

We saw Venice at what might have been close to her best, and we did it by living out the Venice fantasy — riding in a gondola between some of the 120 islands and under some of the 400 bridges, absorbing the atmosphere on a balmy night — with the sun setting pink and golden, as if on cue.

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Dodgers: Masters of the Regular Season

October 8th, 2019 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

It went something like this: I regained consciousness about 6 a.m., and thought the decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Washington Nationals ought to be over, back in Los Angeles. And I did not expect good news, especially when I saw the game was tied at 3-3 in the 10th inning.

A few minutes later, it ended 7-3, with the Dodgers relievers having failed, first, to protect a 3-1 lead turned over to them by Walker Buehler in the seventh inning, then giving up a grand slam in the 10th to end it.

Dodgers bullpen, shaky?

Who saw that coming?

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