Sunday, August 16, 2020

Clown Without Pity’s Quick & Dirty 2020 NBA Playoff Predictions

The NBA just successfully pulled off two weeks of seeding games that surpassed my highest expectations. One of the three hotels in their Orlando bubble has now been vacated since 6 teams have left. On a recent Lowe Post podcast with guest Pablo Torre, ESPN's Zach Lowe shared that he spoke with a number of league officials who privately thought the riskiest juncture in the entire NBA restart were the seeding games when there would be more teams in the bubble and more players who could potentially become disengaged and partake in activities that could get them and others infected with the novel coronavirus. Before the NBA bubble was set up, I thought they had a less than 5% chance of pulling it off, but now I’m realistically hopeful that they can keep their Covid-19 bubble intact and that we will ultimately see an NBA champion crowned. There’s so much that is still horribly wrong with our country, so I’ll take this good sports news and run with it. 

I feel especially grateful to have the opportunity to again put down some predictions for the NBA playoffs. This time around, I’m going to start each conference by highlighting the series I’m most interested in following. As usual, the Western Conference matchups look significantly more interesting, so let’s start there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Thoughts on the NBA Restart

On March 11, 2020, everything went to shit: seconds before tip-off between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, a member of the Thunder’s medical staff sprinted onto the court and spoke to the officials. The game was eventually postponed. The Jazz’s All-Star center, Rudy Gobert, had tested positive for Covid-19, which prompted the league to “suspend” its season. For many of us ‘Muricans, the NBA’s shutdown is when we undoubtedly knew shit got real with this pandemic.

Although it was four and a half months ago, it feels like that date was at least half a year ago. This pandemic and our country’s subsequent unfuckingconceivably horrific response has a way of warping our collective sense of time. So much can change in a matter of days, and something two weeks out viscerally feels much longer than that because so many bad turns can and have happened in such a minute time frame. Since early March, so much has happened in this country and I’m not even going to try to begin to talk about that mad whirlwind because once I get going I’m not sure where I should conceivably end.

Instead, for one of the few times since early March, I’m going to try to focus my attention on something that isn’t related to SARS-CoV-2, the Black Lives Matters movement, police brutality, and the death spiral of the American empire we are witnessing in real time. Although this pandemic and the correlated destruction resulting from American hypercapitalism is far, far, far from over, I want to share some of my thoughts on the NBA’s 2019-2020 restart.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

2020 (in Words)

Words, terms, and acronyms I’ve learned in 2020 (and we’re only halfway through):

community spread
social distancing
The Rona
respiratory droplet
cytokine storm
COVID cliff
qualified immunity
gypsy cops
Cocoa Puffin

Saturday, April 25, 2020

What I Miss About My Pre-Covid-19 Life

I miss going to Sulphur Creek Nature Center with Miguelito.

I miss going to the farmers’ market as a family.

I miss our father/son grocery store shopping trips.

I miss going to parks and playgrounds with Miguelito.

I miss our libraries.

I miss going to the Castro Valley Library with Miguelito.

I miss seeing Miguelito and his cousin play together.

Monday, April 6, 2020

The Tango Doctor

At the foot of Montaigle Castle by Eric Huybrechts

There was once a young man who was dying and terrified of never waking to see his beautiful face in the mirror again. His wavy golden-brown hair was reminiscent of a lion’s mane though he lacked such kingly vigor. Instead, his fair skin was palish with a sickly tinge of yellow. Over a year’s time, the poor man had been afflicted with a mysterious ailment that left him more and more exhausted although he slept plentifully, did not suffer from hypothyroidism, ate a nutritious balance of food, exercised sound hygiene and was not clinically depressed. As the months passed, his spirits caved. His eyes developed a distant, far-off quality to them. It was from staring down Death, his loyal wife swore. A beautiful specimen herself, she accompanied him everywhere throughout that vexing, difficult time. When they first married years before, the man often marched home across the town’s cobblestone streets instead of waiting for the tram. But once he became sick for months on end, merely flipping off his bed sheets to trudge down the hall to the bathroom took every ounce of energy he could muster.

The man and his wife sought every trusted medical means to diagnose his malady. All of his bodily faculties seemed in good order: his lungs, heart, mind, and cardiovascular and digestive systems were normal for a man of his young age. They were confounded. On a lark he sought a psychotherapist to help him conclude that the symptoms were not psychosomatic, nor that he secretly wished to be ill so his wife could shower him with attention. His therapist assured the man that he had not subconsciously manifested his illness to sabotage his lucrative business. Quite the opposite, his therapist deduced.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Into the COVID-19 Fray: An Interview with an ER Nurse

Ebola test laboratory in Liberia, Image courtesy of UNMEER

This interview was recorded on the 03/20/2020 weekend.

JAV: How was your shift today?

NURSE: It almost felt more normal than I expected it to, I guess. There’s this combination of…and I feel bad saying this…ignorance, panic, and self-entitlement that we’re seeing that’s really difficult to deal with. But then, at the same time, we’re kind of used to dealing with this already. I think some of the staff, even among medical people, you’re getting some of that panic where people want all the [personal protective] gear even if they don’t need it to be in that room, or they’re a little hyper-paranoid. And there’s actually a lot of people calling in sick because they just don’t want to be around it. It’s a little crazy. We’re all at home being very careful about social distancing. Everybody is staying home and being very careful about not bringing germs home and all that and then at work all of us are super close together as if it was just any other day. It’s kind of weird.

JAV: How long have you worked as an ER nurse?

NURSE: I’ve worked down in the ER for nine years. I had previously worked in other units.

JAV: How do you think you ended up becoming an ER nurse?

NURSE: (laughs) Almost by accident! When I was a new grad I worked in medical oncology. I wanted to go back to school but the only position that allowed me the flexibility was a float nurse. Back then, I always said, I don’t want to work in the ER. It’s too chaotic. It seems crazy. I like things organized. I like to have my day and plan it but I had a friend at the hospital who kept telling me, come down and work with us…and I just had no interest. That seems like a mess.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020


On the morning of February 28, 2016, I slipped out of bed and sauntered over to the living room since our apartment was unusually quiet. My wife, Maria, sat at the far end of the couch, her arms wrapped around her shins, her knees drawn into her chest. Her mouth was a tight line. The blinds were shut, casting our living room into shadow. It seemed as though she was trying to draw into herself. To hide within the darkness. Something was wrong. Very wrong. She was seven weeks pregnant with our first child.

I woke up and found blood on my underwear when I went to the bathroom, she told me.

I didn’t know how to react. This was all new to us. Maria had just told me she was pregnant three days before on the last day of my artist residency. But I had enough sense to know this didn’t sound good.

I remember the way she gazed at the wall—how still she was. As though she was frozen, or unwilling to move.

Shortly after, we passed through the security checkpoint at the hospital’s ER entrance. Maria’s contractions had sharpened. Sometimes it made her double over in pain. I stood by her side as she sat and told the intake nurse the reason for our visit. We then took a seat in the waiting room. Maria and I tucked our chins into our chests. I patted her arm. I was scared, but I tried to hide my fear with a mask of stoicism.

Before long, the intake nurse called us. I could feel my stomach clench. They triage patients at emergency rooms, attending first to those with the most urgent problems. We must have waited only five or so minutes—and we were called in before all the other folks who had already been waiting.

That’s when I realized how grave Maria’s bleeding was.