Monday, November 14, 2005
Like everyone else in the country, my favorite sports is basketball, the reason why I had my PalmTop equipped with a Receiver Box so that I won't miss any games despite my tight writing schedules. Having a by-lined column at GlobeNet is no joke and an ordinary mortal like me needs a little relaxation. As they say, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," but on the contrary, my sadistic editor says, "all play and no work makes Jack hungry."
Watching the daily telecast of professional basketball games refreshes the tired gray cells of my medulla oblongata and rejuvenates my argentaffin glands to secrete an abundance of serotonin which provides me with inspiration to write sensible articles (like this one you are reading now). Seeing my favorite John Malpera score from a 3-point angle or execute a fancy layup evicts the stress and tension temporarily residing in my system.
Life for me is a simple write, eat, watch although my routine is sometimes interrupted by Thomas De Sousa, a distant uncle of mine, whenever he sends important messages thru my desktop. He works as a private investigator in Elmhurst, a remote city south of New York and he is my chief source of information in the human side of reporting. Incidentally, he's also a basketball fanatic and although his idol is Stan Brockard, the Bulldozer's high leaper, I occasionally agree with his post-game analysis.
Whenever we watch the games together, that was four years ago before I was stationed here in the west coast, an argument ensues after, especially when Leaping Stan's performance wasn't up to par and my uncle acts as the foremost attorney defending his hero. You see, Uncle Thom adores rebounders for he used to play center in the NCAA and I, not blessed with a good height, prefers good offense players particularly the long shooters. But all's well that ends well for we agree on something: Basketball is a gift to mankind that should be maintained and perpetuated.
Last week, Uncle Thom sent a missive thru my desktop asking me to pick him up at L.A. International (or LAX for short). I was a bit alarmed for he had never visited me before and I was doubly sure that he had no intention of taking a vacation in California, lest he already retired. This idea gives me the shivers. Furthermore, why LAX and not the domestic airports around? Was he abroad?
Anyway, I had a long wait at LAX because the Concorde-L encountered landing difficulty when a small plane overshot the runway causing traffic in the approach lane. At long last, Uncle Thom appeared at the receiving lobby after two hours and as was his wont, the nearest Denny's was our very first stop for a taste of his favorite country sausage and hash browns, double order. Undeniably, since he was the guest, the check was on poor me.
The mystery of his coming over was unraveled after the late breakfast, as he lit a crumpled stick of Marlboro Lights. Before my glazed eyes, for I hadn't slept well thinking that something might be wrong, Uncle Thom unwrapped a small box and unfolded the linen to show me, with much pride and a hint of haughtiness, a golden cross medal. It was the first time that Uncle Thom exhibited his latent characteristic of being a braggart.
It turned out that the British Police Academy awarded him the coveted Scotland Yard Medal for his sleuthing skills in solving the mystery behind the death of Hajime Mashite, a Japanese inventor. Although the crime took place in New York, the BPA got word of the news via GlobeNet, your friendly network, and the graduating class selected it as one of their test cases. A regular correspondence with the New York State Police was maintained to monitor the progress of the investigation and compare the theories of the students against the actual facts.
Still sleepy but alert, questions in my mind, though indirectly, were answered. I had to suffer the inconvenience of picking him up at the very busy LAX instead of the more comfortable domestic airports because he came on a direct flight from London. Travel in style, so goes the commercial ad, to think that the airfare charged by Concorde-L is more than double that of the first class in ordinary jets. However, one had to admit that fatigue is greatly minimized when you fly at a speed of over MACH II and a shorter jet lag is beneficial.
Straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak, I learned that Hajime Mashite, a native of Hokkaido, a small island in Japan, came to the Patent Office of Brooklyn with the prototype of what he called Spring Jack Athletic Shoes and submitted an application for patent. As a standard operating procedure, the Patent Officer, in this case, it was Mr. Carl Bergaud, had to spend time in studying the invention, about a week or so.
Being a foreigner and not aware of the SOP, Mr. Mashite thought the patent could be approved within the day and to drive home his point, he explained in broken English, the mechanics of the Spring Jack Athletic Shoes. He even conducted a short demonstration to the delight of the other Patent Officers and some inventors in the vicinity. Outside the building, the small crowd witnessed how the weird-looking Japanese inventor, wearing his prototype shoes, leapt to an altitude of about six inches.
Some skeptics laughed but some others took pity on the aging inventor and politely maintained their silence. As the proof of the pudding is in the taking and to try is to believe, a young guy dared to borrow the shoes to settle, once and for all, Mr. Mashite's claim that it can enhance one's jumping ability to a magnitude of six times the normal leap. So, using the formula, one can deduce that Mr. Mashite could only jump an inch high. Since the young guy said that he could leave the ground by a margin of at least twelve inches, jumping a height of six feet would be an incredible feat by any standards.
Hajime Mashite had good reasons to refuse the test flight. He said that the shoes will only cooperate with the proper DNA identification of the wearer, in that particular case, the Spring Jack Athletic Shoes will only respond to the DNA type of Mr. Mashite. The design of his invention gives emphasis on the security and protection of the owner, so it cannot be stolen nor borrowed. In other words, it would require customization before any other person could use it.
But the crowd's interest did not wane for Hajime Mashite compensated for the lack of actual testing by his detailed explanation, all in scientific jargon. According to him, his Spring Jack Athletic Shoes were fashioned with two soles, similar to the ordinary athletic shoes. But far from being ordinary, there is no hidden spring between the soles and they are not sewn together nor glue was applied to attach the lower with the upper sole. In fact, they were not attached at all!
The Japanese took off the shoes and let the audience, composed of several Patent Officers and some inventors, examine the shoes with the soles detached and everyone was perplexed beyond reasonable doubt. However, the metal strips in the rim of each sole strengthened Mr. Mashite's logic that when worn and activated, the soles were held together by a type of stimulated magnetic force. The upper and lower soles were charged differently – using the principle of unlike poles attract each other.
With the shoes on Mr. Mashite's feet again, the skeptics were treated to a show when they were asked to separate the lower from the upper sole and test the adhesive strength of the magnetic force field. The crowd was captivated, or bewildered as Uncle Thom had described it, when no one was able to successfully disengage the two soles, not even the wise guy who wanted to try the Spring Jack Athletic Shoes.
With the convincing proof, it was enough for the audience to allow Mr. Mashite to continue further with his explanation of how it works. Any sane fellow would agree that the magnetic force as claimed by the Japanese inventor did work. All ears were pointed in his direction and not a sound was heard except Mr. Mashite's hoarse voice and the noticeable mispronunciation of his letter L.
The shoes are equipped with sensors that can detect the intention of the wearer by the position and any slight movement of the toes and the heel. The signal is passed on to the AI, an Artificial Intelligence in the form of a tiny chip in the middle portion of the sole, and an analysis is done to determine whether it would be a short hop, a long jump or a high jump. It can also aid in walking, be it a stroll or a fast walk and of course, running.
In an anticipated jump, as interpreted by the AI, the charge of the upper sole is changed to the opposite thereby creating a "like poles" situation. The sudden release of the magnetic pull plus the push from the repelling poles produce a mighty force that, in the layman's point of view, could defy the law of gravity with leaps of up to six feet high, depending on one's capability and dexterity. Powered by a small NiCad battery that can be recharged overnight, the Spring Jack appears to be a panacea to the athletes.
For a repeat demonstration by Mr. Mashite, with his six-inch jump, another inventor in the audience observed the disengaged soles to be apart by not more than two inches upon lift off and the lower half immediately attaches to the upper half to complete the act in a fraction of a second. As concluded by all the inventors in the crowd of observers, Mr. Mashite utilized the jet propulsion technique with the enhancement of the short time delay in the detaching and attaching of soles which produces the desired momentum.
A Patent Officer with a background in physical sciences remarked that the wearer is practically pushed by the lower sole using the earth and its gravity as the spring board. The great discrepancy in the mass of each component explains the obvious that the object with the lighter mass gains a velocity proportionate to the force exerted. For simplicity, he discounted the other factors such as friction, air drag and also the mass of the lighter object itself.
The same Patent Officer expounded on the deterring force created by the engagement of the two soles, considering the mass of the lower sole. He pointed out that when the two soles connect, there is a change in the wearer's mass and it will affect the trajectory. However, the rest of the crowd argued that the drag it produces is only minimal and can be ignored in the computation of the net effect.
To make the long story short, Mr. Mashite's invention was a hit in the Patent Office as evidenced by some applause and handshakes. But in spite of the convincing demonstration and explanation of Mr. Mashite plus the valued comments of the other people present, Carl Bergaud, the attending Patent Officer, advised the Japanese inventor to just come back after a week and hopefully, his patent would be approved by then.
Mr. Bergaud, a gentleman that he was, gave a good explanation for the long wait. A record check has to be done and the present computer system is not equipped to analyze specifics. It will be disastrous to the patenting system if a patent is granted to an invention with similar functions and principles to an existing one. Mr. Mashite seemed to agree with Mr. Bergaud and he left the counter with nary a word.
But instead of leaving the office, Hajime Mashite tried to convince the other patent officers to assist him in the early approval of his application. No one would break the protocol in the bureaucracy and contradict the decision of a colleague. The Japanese inventor left the Patent Office with a long face, showing his utter disgust for the red tape accorded him. He pledged to pursue his application and assured everyone that his invention would hit the market in no time at all.
But before he could come back to the Patent Office to claim the rights to his invention, Mr. Hajime Mashite died inside his house in Elmhurst, five days after he visited the Patent Office, when a fire of unknown origin razed his residence at midnight. After collecting the necessary data, investigators established a case of arson as evidenced by a wine bottle with traces of petroleum found on the vacant lot beside Mr. Mashite's house plus the fresh tire tracks, presumably markings of skidding tires caused by a hasty maneuver.
The firemen's early response saved Mr. Mashite's house from being totally burned but since the fire started in his bedroom, it suffered the most damage, even claiming the life of the owner. The local police found burned fragments of a blueprint and a portion of the receipt issued for his patent application which gave them a good headstart in the investigations.
Mr. Carl Bergaud entertained the police inquiry and presented a brown envelope containing the disapproval notice regarding Mr. Mashite's application with the reason stated as "near duplicate." Enclosed was the shredded blueprint which was mandatory in cases of rejections. Since the prototype was not required, the only existing model of Spring Jack Athletic Shoes was lost in the fire and no one has the interest to file a protest in behalf of the deceased inventor.
The case made slow progress due to insufficient evidence and the investigation was hampered by the proverbial lack of motive. Hajime Mashite had no known family and even though he owned an insurance policy of one million dollars, the proceeds will go to the National Foundation For Inventors, the named beneficiary. Since it had an international color, for the victim was a foreigner, the New York State Police Force handled the case.
But the assigned DA, even with doubts in his mind, was forced to declare it an accident amid the protestation of the insurance company. It was a known fact that policies for aliens carry a fine print of excluding racial attack as cause of death. The insurer refused to indemnify the victim's heir, the NFFI in particular, and hired their own investigator in the person of my Uncle Thom to pursue the case.
The New York State Police officially abandoned the case after a month and Uncle Thom was left to his own devices. Since Hajime Mashite had no friends nor family, the only clues left were the Patent Office, which was the last place Mr. Mashite was seen alive, and the National Foundation For Inventors, the beneficiary in Mr. Mashite's insurance policy. However, this lead looked stale for previous investigations conducted by the police were already concentrated on this angle.
But Uncle Thom is a paragon of patience and perseverance. Armed with a blueprint of what he called Belt Vault, he went to the Patent Office sub rosa. It turned out that Carl Bergaud, the same Patent Officer who entertained Mr. Mashite, quickly uncovered Uncle Thom's scheme. It was a leather belt with a tiny opening in the middle and a sac just enough to hide several bills. Mr. Bergaud, with a trace of sarcasm, admonished Uncle Thom to visit Chinatown first before applying for a patent because the supposed Belt Vault can be had for a few dollars in any Chinese store.
Unfazed, Uncle Thom tried to befriend the patent officer by employing his unorthodox style of approach. Uncle Thom has that habit of playing dumb and you can be taken for a ride if you don't watch out. With a barrage of his ignorant-sounding queries, Mr. Bergaud gave in to the ploy. The officer, in a less arrogant tone, taught Uncle Thom the correct way of filling in the application form, showed him a pattern of a properly prepared blueprint and enumerated the cases where a prototype is required.
Private Investigator Thomas De Sousa next went to the National Foundation For Inventors where he used the same tactics of playing dumb with the receptionist at the information booth and eventually met a veteran inventor by the name of Dax. Uncle Thom was not able to extract his real name for his glib tongue wouldn't work out right with an eccentric like this old man. But somehow, he made a breakthrough when Dax mentioned he was at the Patent Office when the late Hajime Mashite conducted his impromptu demonstration.
In between his regular visits to the Brooklyn Patent Office and the NFFI, Uncle Thom didn't fail to watch the basketball games. In fact, it was basketball which gave him the opportunity to linger because Jerry, the receptionist at the NFFI, and Mr. Carl Bergaud of the Patent Office enjoyed post-game discussions very much. In just a couple of weeks, Uncle Thom gained friends in the two offices, particularly Mr. Bergaud and Jerry, the NFFI receptionist. The three of them are die-hard fans of Leaping Stan and misery loves company, especially when the Bulldozers, Stan's team, gets a beating.
After more than a month of surveillance in his disguise, the finals between the Mohawks and the Bulldozers began. Surprisingly, Carl Bergaud invited Uncle Thom to watch the second game in their house. You see, John Malpera's Mohawks defeated the Bulldozers in the first game by a mere point and you can deduce the discussions that it produced. Anyway, Uncle Thom came with Jerry and learned a lot from that second game where he saw how the sweet-shooting Johnny made a statue out of Leaping Stan which won the game for Johnny's team, making it two to nothing in the series.
For the revenge, the third, fourth and fifth games were all taken by the Bulldozers but the penultimate game was won by the great Mohawks, creating a deadlock in the series going into the final game. But before it was played, Uncle Thom was able to extract a confession from Carl Bergaud and the guilty Patent Officer watched the last championship game inside the prison cell. Uncle Thom just made a real long shot!
As a post-game analysis, not of the championship game which the Bulldozers won with much help from Leaping Stan, I was surprised to know that Uncle Thom relied on his intuition in solving the case. Based on his deduction, no one at NFFI would be interested on the Spring Jack Athletic Shoes except Dax and no one at the Patent Office is concerned at the invention except for Mr. Bergaud. Definitely, the insurance policy was discounted for no one person would benefit from the proceeds.
Uncle Thom's analysis showed an indication pointing more towards Mr. Bergaud than Dax, despite the latter's eccentricity. Uncle Thom's simple basis was basketball and all he needed was to establish the motive and eventually extract Mr. Bergaud's confession by using Stan Brockard as a prop. Admittedly, Stan's high jumping stunts don't fail to mesmerize basketball fans, whether for or against the Bulldozers. You may call it levitation or by any other name but how can you explain the fact that Stan jumped ahead of another player and this player landed ahead of Stan. Suspending oneself in mid-air is not an everyday thing, even for athletes of high caliber.
Since that second game, Uncle Thom made it a point to bring Jerry with him to watch the series in the comfort of Mr. Bergaud's house in Elmhurst which delighted the lonely Patent Officer. (What a coincidence, everybody seemed to reside in Elmhurst, Uncle Thom, Carl Bergaud, Jerry and the deceased Mr. Mashite.) With Jerry's six-canner of Bud Lights and a small box of Georgia Peanuts courtesy of Uncle Thom, the three bachelors enjoyed the first half of the games in the series with gusto.
After the beer, Mr. Bergaud would serve roasted spare ribs and a bottle of Chaleux, his favorite red wine, in time for the start of the second half. The loud cheering, for the Bulldozers, of course, almost always created a euphoric atmosphere especially when Leaping Stan executes his famous blind dunk shot which gives the viewers an impression that Stan has the capability to suspend himself in mid-air. Fans go into wild frenzy whenever Stan successfully blocks Johnny's patented semi-hook shot.
Uncle Thom didn't fully enjoy the games for he was allergic to red wine. But the call of duty required him to drink the Chaleux in order to allay any suspicion on the part of Mr. Bergaud. A few hours after ingestion, Uncle Thom tends to develop a bum stomach and he was lucky to reach home every time, before each attack becomes unbearable. That was his way of showing his dedication to his profession.
Win or lose, Stan Brockard's play remained the topic until midnight when the three of them parted ways. According to Uncle Thom, there never was an instance where they argued, so unlike the two of us. Understandably so because they belong to the same camp. But can you blame me if I honestly believe that Johnny Malpera is better than Stan in the final analysis? The score counts a lot and Johnny's high points average will tell the difference. Johnny was not named MVP three times for nothing.
Gaining the trust and confidence of his two allies, Uncle Thom tried his very best to derive personal information from them. But he failed in his strategy for Jerry and Mr. Bergaud wouldn't stray from their favorite topic, basketball games. It seemed to Uncle Thom that there was an unwritten rule about their association with each other and that is, to stick to basketball no more, no less. As a consolation, he learned that Jerry is a true-blue bachelor living with his parents and Carl Bergaud, a widower with no children.
As part of his investigation, Uncle Thom made a tour of Mr. Bergaud's residence in a discreet fashion. He saw the backyard, full of empty Chaleux bottles, when he innocently pronounced before a game that he smelled pork barbecue and he just wanted to know if it was the neighbor. He was able to see the inside of the dirty garage when he swore that he saw a squirrel come in that way. Shallow excuses, lousy alibis you might say but surprisingly, it worked.
But when a game is in progress, no amount of alibi could interrupt Mr. Bergaud's concentration in staring at the VidBox. All peace and quiet during a dead ball, to hear the commentaries, and a lot of hands, all three pairs, were making different gestures to urge their team to play good basketball. A unison of three voices cheering and applauding could be heard a mile away and a louder than whisper of cursing erupts whenever an error was committed by the Bulldozers.
Discussions officially begin at the end of the first half while Mr. Bergaud was cooking the spare ribs although sometimes, a short conversation in the form of analysis and appraisal was welcome during commercial breaks. After the game, an open forum could be initiated by any of them and a second the motion statement came more frequent than Uncle Thom's burps.
“What do you think would happen to the games if all the other players possess Stan's ability of high leaping?" Uncle Thom's poser sounded so casual, during a lazy dribble by Johnny, that Mr. Bergaud gave out an instantaneous reply, "Why, it would be dull and not worth watching anymore. Oh, how I wish that basketball games would be played like this for a long time." John Malpera sank a middle distance shot after that incriminating statement and a loud "ow" was heard from Jerry.
Unaware of the trap, Mr. Bergaud, maybe due to his excitement in game five where the Bulldozers cut down the lead of the opposing Mohawks to just two points, followed up with the clincher. "If somebody will come up with an invention that will change the way the games are played, I'd rather not approve the patent for that." Simultaneously, Leaping Stan blocked a shot and grabbed the ball for a completed fastbreak to tie the score, easing the tension in both ways for Uncle Thom.
A visit to the Forensic Section of the New State Police the next day confirmed Uncle Thom's suspicion that the tire tracks found in the vacant lot adjacent to Mr. Mashite's house belong to Mr. Bergaud's old Ford Panther and the bottle of Chaleux with traces of petrol further pointed the accusing finger in Carl's direction. Jerry corroborated Uncle Thom's story about Mr. Bergaud's remarks regarding the disapproval of inventions that could affect the basketball games.
With the help of the insurance company's lawyer, Uncle Thom presented his evidences to the prosecuting attorney and a case of arson with malicious intent was filed against Mr. Carl Bergaud. The malicious intent statement refers to Mr. Bergaud's dislike of Mr. Mashite due to the victim's racial origin. The swift conclusion of the case could be attributed to Mr. Bergaud's confession of the crime. With the help of luck, Uncle Thom's crazy gimmick worked on his victim.
On the day of the arrest, Uncle Thom, still in the guise of an amateur inventor, went to the Patent Office and presented to Carl Bergaud a bogus blueprint of Jumping Jack Basketball Shoes. The arresting officers, all in disguises, were witness to Mr. Bergaud's outburst when he learned that the principle used and the main function of the Jumping Jack Basketball Shoes was similar to Mr. Hajime Mashite's Spring Jack Athletic Shoes. Of course, Uncle Thom got all the information about Mr. Mashite's invention from Dax.
Carl Bergaud, in a fit of temper, yelled at Uncle Thom and called him a dummy. "Don't you realize the havoc you will wreak with your invention? You will ruin basketball!" Those were the exact words of Mr. Bergaud. But Uncle Thom displayed his finest form and followed up with a statement signifying his unselfish motive and a show of unconcern towards the future of the basketball games.
It created a lapse in Mr. Bergaud's lucidity when he realized that Thomas De Sousa, a budding inventor and a supposed ally in the games, came up with an invention that will completely eliminate the spice in the playing styles. "You're a nut, Thom. I did my best to stifle a similar invention to that one and I won't hesitate to do it again for the sake of basketball." His words were firm and it was enough to implicate him with the Mashite arson.
Mr. Carl Bergaud was in hysterics when the arresting officers led him out of the Patent Office. He was pouring out his guilt by admitting the crime of arson although he defended his act by reasons of preserving the excitement of the basketball games. He was brought directly to the Elmhurst City Jail with no bail recommended and a psychiatrist was summoned to examine Mr. Bergaud's sanity.
Uncle Thom, Jerry and the other basketball fans in the police force admired Mr. Bergaud's sacrifice. For basketball wouldn't be the same, no excitement, no more thrills if all the players will use a Spring Jack and could leap high to an exaggerated altitude. You see, basketball or any sport for that matter has the thing called "limitations for comfort." What good would it be if any basketball player could reach the goal with his toes? I voiced out my concordance to that one and Uncle Thom was glad I agreed.
Though his statements were self-incriminating, it wouldn't hold water in court. But like Johnny's unexpected long hits, Carl Bergaud made a good shot when he offered to sign a voluntary confession in the presence of his own attorney and the prosecutor, making the trial an exercise of formality. To use Stan's favorite expression after winning a game over a weaker team, the DA remarked to the plaintiff, "No sweat."
It was a nice game for Uncle Thom but with a bad score for the insurance company. The NFFI came out richer by one million dollars when the jury eliminated the racial aspect in convicting Carl Bergaud, he was sentenced to ten years, five in isolation with no VidBox to watch the basketball games. As a consolation, the BPA, aside from giving an award to Uncle Thom, presented a plaque of distinction to Actuarian Insurance Corporation for sponsoring a lost cause that turned out to be a classic case of arson and murder with a unique motive.
I dare say that in effect, Uncle Thom made a three-pointer himself. Solving the mystery of Hajime Mashite's death, receiving the BPA medal and of course, the fact that the Spring Jack being relegated to oblivion and resting the case of basketball, it was better than winning a grand slam. I felt too proud for my uncle and his achievements.
Well, when Uncle Thom told me this story yesterday at Denny's, I couldn't help but notice the disgust in his face. He had no right to be sad because the Bulldozers holds the championship cup and he has the Scotland Yard Medal to boot, what more could he ask for? I understand that his friendship with Carl was genuine and I realized his sense of loss, to think that he will miss the red wine and the spare ribs plus the delight of watching the games with his fan mates. Besides, his compassion for Carl with the punishment of five years with no games might have affected his mood.
Since I felt so sleepy and tired, I dared not ask him. And imitating his style, I just played dumb and kept my serenity all throughout until we reached home where I dived into my bed for a long overdue sleep. But I couldn't elude the topic for when I woke up yesterday afternoon, he was sitting in my favorite sofa, continuously puffing his favorite Marlboro Lights with a long face as if trying to solicit a voluntary query from me. So I asked what was bothering him and he answered nothing. You've got to be me to know that he meant just the opposite of that.
I ignored him at first and fixed coffee for the two of us. But going back to the living room, with the VidBox on and the elimination game between the Bulldozers and the Warriors had just started, Uncle Thom must be losing his sanity to remain quiet while watching a basketball game. My observation of his attitude lasted for several minutes and since I felt uncomfortable with the situation, I opened up. Besides, I didn't want to waste the game and I would be damned if his dour expression stayed up to the second half.
I tried to cheer Uncle Thom with the idea that he could retire and stay in my place to savor the games this season if he wanted to, even if I was afraid that he would agree. Unfortunately, my fear was affirmed when he nodded. But the sad face remained and I knew that I was wrong in my assessment of his predicament. "Was it Carl bothering you? There's still Jerry..." My consoling words were interrupted by his booming stentorian voice.
My problem is Dax!" he exclaimed. What? I was dumbfounded that time. My mind refused to cooperate as it went blank for a moment, probably because I had just been from the bed. If anything, only basketball could give Uncle Thom a headache, particularly when the bulldozers loses a game. What has Dax got to do with basketball? An eccentric inventor giving my good old uncle a problem? Or maybe I was wrong in the first place, yeah, probably wrong.
But you see, even though I hate his choice in basketball, I admit that I love Uncle Thom and it affects my mood to see him brooding like that. With my head still reeling from the feeling of lethargy, I shot him a straight question. "What has Dax got to do with basketball, Uncle Thom?" My whole being snapped to attention when he replied and my mind raced to an imagined scenario of an uncle and a nephew brooding in my favorite sofa, both puffing Marlboro Lights and exhibiting long faces.
“You son of a nincompoop," he began, "didn't I tell you that several inventors witnessed Hajime Mashite's demonstration? It is just a matter of time before one of them will come out with a prototype of the Spring Jack Athletic Shoes and in all probability, it would be Dax. My good boy, can you imagine the harm it will do to basketball?" Those were the exact words of my Uncle Thom.