Fans of the Dallas Mavericks have called “time-out” from dreary world goings-on to join the team in unending adoration. The hoopla could have been flagged days ago for “excessive celebration.”Owner Mark Cuban can’t chisel the smile off his face, MVP Dirk Nowitzki seems headed for sainthood, and the trophy may already need re-finishing. It’s been handled more than a catsup bottle at a truck stop.Sportswriters and broadcasters keep turning out team news tidbits about the NBA champions, and fans scarf them down like hogs at the trough when daylight savings time has pushed back feeding by an hour….* * * * *Dirk hasn’t followed through on Uncle Mort’s suggestion of a name change to “No-QUIT-ski,” but after Dirk’s vocal rendition of “We Are the Champions” and his ceremonial first-pitch at a Texas Rangers game, maybe yet another name might merit thought. Like “No-START-ski.”His singing “lows” rank right alongside the miserable musical efforts of late movie stars Chill Wills and Andy Devine. And his pitch at the ballpark was way high, unless, of course, he called a bank shot.The humble seven-foot German is revered, though, for basketball, and birth records prove it. Dozens of male infants in recent days have been named “Dirk,” and at least one female baby’s given name is “Nowitzski!”…* * * * *Cuban is “playing possum” about gifts he’s planning for team members. They’ve assured him that championship rings will be hunky-dory. Flashing his “I’ve-already-got-it-figured-out-but-I’m-not-going-to-tell-you-yet” smile, he’s playing it close to the vest.It’s a long shot, of course, but it might be toe rings, diamond-encrusted, to boot. That might explain the rumor that players’ big toes were measured before the Mavs scattered for vacations.Another blurb from an often unreliable source indicated that when they whipped out the measuring tape, Donald Carter, founding owner of the team, had his boots off before players could shed flip-flops. It was Carter, you’ll recall, who accepted the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy at Cuban’s insistence—a classy move….* * * * *A quick turn from the opulent swings us back to the real world, where most folks are hard at it scratching out a living. One is Jeff Shultz, editor/publisher of a small weekly newspaper. His mom and dad were of ink stain origin as well, so he’s got a tubful of stories. Jeff picks up a bunch of ‘em at Oklahoma Press Association conventions.Some yarns, decades old, date back to the Great Depression. Poverty shrouded the land, and newspapers— like most businesses—were in survival mode. It was common to inventory pencils, with close inspections to make sure they couldn’t be sharpened just one more time. Phones were answered on the first ring to save the bell.One reporter remembers long-ago life in a boardinghouse. The good news: rent was cheap; the owner was a great cook. The bad news: Nightly menus never changed. Invariably, she served roast beef, potatoes and carrots….* * * * *One night, she mentioned how much she looked forward to reading her horoscope each day in the newspaper.Little did she know that the reporter concocted his own horoscope. His publisher, known for climbing over gates to save the hinges, chose the youngster’s “free” predictions over the polished pieces offered on a fee basis by syndicates.Picking up on her daily reading habits, the writer also learned that she was a Pisces….* * * * *His creative thoughts in overdrive, he couldn’t wait to write the next day’s horoscope, particularly for readers born under the sign of Pisces.“You will cook something different tonight” was the message.The fare remained roast/potatoes/carrots, but the reporter was undaunted. The next day, Pisces readers were advised thusly: “Showers yesterday soaked most newspapers, but worry not. Today’s horoscope is even more important. You will fry up some chicken tonight.” And it worked….* * * * *Another fledging writer worked into the night at a small weekly newspaper. When the publisher arrived on the youngster’s second day, he announced to the boss: “I’ve got all the news, headlines and pictures in place, but we simply don’t have enough space for all the ads.”It didn’t take the crusty publisher long to provide a “short course” in newspaper reality.The ads got in….* * * * *
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