The week that was

The Big Story: It wasn’t quite the Patriots coming back in dramatic fashion to beat Atlanta in SB 51. But given that it ended with a game-winning field goal kicked in the waning seconds after a frenetic second-half comeback led by a gritty, bloody sock-like star (for the second straight game), it’s fair to say SB 57 goes into the books as one of the Top 10 Super Bowl games. Though Kansas City’s 38-35 win over the Philadelphia Eagles does not make the Mahomes Chiefs a dynasty, as the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin said they were on Monday. At least not yet. To be that they need to win two or three more times and hang around the top of the league’s contenders for another 10 years. For now let’s just celebrate the two-time champs’ admirable win and give a shout out to Philadelphia for fighting the good fight and just coming up short in a great game.

Thumbs Up: To LeBron James for breaking Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring record of 38,387 set in 1984. Say what you want about LeBron, and my only issue is how he unethically got around tampering rules to get Anthony Davis to quit on his teammates in mid-season to make him a Laker. Beyond that he always puts the team first, plays hard and almost always shows up to play. Along with talent, durability and effort are the prime factors for someone to break a record that takes as long as it does to become the NBA’s all-time scoring leader. Well done, young man.

Thumbs Down: To the bloated monstrosity the Super Bowl has become. Born simply as the NFL/AFL championship game, it has become an “all things to every possible aspect of society” attempt to cram as many eyeballs in as possible to maximize TV ratings. It leaves us with ridiculous sights like jamming what seemed like 110,000 people around the mid-field coin toss, including kids from NFL PR/marketing programs no one ever heard of or cares about; worthy people being used in transparent “Hey Aren’t We Great, Guys?” PR ploys, and a 40-minute half-time distraction with a person wearing a bright red outfit that made it look like one of those high-flying objects the Air Force shot down last week had avoided detection and landed on the half-time show stage, followed by about 200 people filling in divots kicked in by said show on a field that already had people slipping far more than players should for a game of this magnitude. All of which makes the actual purpose for the massive production (the game) a sideshow. Sorry to those insulted by this “get off my lawn” rant, but I’m a frustrated guy who just wants to watch the freaking AFL/NFL championship game devoid of all the other crap.

Sports 101: How many of the seven other people who at one time held the all-time NBA scoring record can you name? Hints: One guy’s son later played in the league and another played for the Celtics before he took over the lead for a short time.

News Item – NBA Trading Deadline a Doozy: Can’t remember as active a trade deadline as last week. The dual big stories were the Nets scrapping the plan that almost everyone (except me) said would lead to multiple championships in Brooklyn and their star Kevin Durant landing in Phoenix. It makes them more dangerous for sure, but it did strip a weak bench of its best guy (Cam Johnson). Though the pick-up of Terrence Ross after a buyout in Orlando was a nice helpful addition. The two other biggest winners were, with LeBron leaving the GM-ing to the brass for once, the Lakers coming away with three nice additions to their bench while dumping ill-fitted Russell Westbrook’s gargantuan contract (and ego) and the Nets, who’ll be better than you think, starting over with a zillion unprotected first-round picks, a better team-oriented point guard and three more solid wing players to give trade flexibility this summer. Finally Jae Crowder going to Milwaukee makes them tougher vs the Celtics because he’s a lot better than Grayson Allen.

And then there’s the they’ll-never-learn chatter that teaming Kyrie Irving with Luka Doncic will make Dallas a legit contender. SPOILER ALERT: That’s what they said about the KD-KI pairing, which ended in disaster, just like it will in Dallas.

Do The Math: in case you are interested in the final Durant/Irving Tally in Brooklyn, it went like this: Durant played in 114 games out of 300 they played when he was a Net, while for Kyrie it was 143 in 300 as they went 159 and 141 (53 percent) while going one and done in the playoffs twice and losing in Round II the other time.

Not to mention Brooklyn let two inmates run the asylum, leading to the firing of three coaches in three years, Kenny Atkinson (totally undeserved), Jacque Vaughn (the first time when he was passed over ’cause Durant and Irving didn’t approve) and the disrespected all-timer Steve Nash (deserved). All for the bargain basement price of $22.9 million.

Sports 101 Answer: The NBA all-time leading scorer parade started with Piston George Yardley, followed byGeorge Mikan, the traded-for-Bill Russell Easy Ed Macauley, Dolph Schayes, whose son Danny was an NBA’er, first 20,000 point career scorer Bob Pettit, Wilt Chamberlain and Jabbar.

Finally, Greg Olsen doesn’t have the star power of future No. 1 Tom Brady, but Fox hit a homer with its new-for-now lead analyst. He was on all year with useful insights and thinking ahead strategies, like saying two plays before it happened KC runners should get down before the end zone to run out the clock before kicking the winning field goal. Not sure I agree, but it gave viewers something to consider, which is what a good analyst should do. And since Harrison Butker hit the FG the strategy worked too.

Email Dave Long at

Card members

Merrimack Cribbage League moves to larger venue

For more than two decades, the Merrimack Cribbage League has provided opportunities for local cribbage enthusiasts to get together and play four-person and partner cribbage. The group, which currently has about 40 members, moved its weekly games to a larger venue last month and is looking for new players to join the fun. Co-organizer Scott Mortimer answered some questions about the card game and the league.

What kind of game is cribbage?

Cribbage is a game that combines both skill and luck, yet requires more skill than other card games. Luck is needed for the cards you are dealt; skill is needed for the cards you discard and the order they are played. All that is needed to play is a deck of cards and a cribbage board with four pegs. The object of the game is to score 121 points before your opponents. Without getting into detail, points are scored two ways: pegging and counting.

How does the new venue accommodate the league?

In January, we moved to the American Legion in Merrimack. The new location will allow us to increase our membership. We now have the capacity to grow well beyond 50 players.

How does a league game night work?

Game night has each team playing 10 games. Games move along efficiently, and each game lasts about 15 minutes. Winning teams for the evening are determined by the total score after completing 10 games.

Describe the atmosphere at a league game night.

We are a casual cribbage league. The word “league” is not meant to be intimidating. There can be a little nervousness starting out, but our newest members will tell you it is a relaxed environment.

What is your membership demographic?

We are a very diverse group. People ages 22 to 92 have played in our league. Teams are made up of family members, friends or random players we pair up. The game has a mass appeal because of the strategy, excitement and the stroke of luck with each hand.

Is the league casual or competitive? Or are there opportunities for both kinds of play?

Can I call it casually competitive? We do award small weekly cash prizes for top-scoring teams, yet it is encouraged to assist opponents when it comes to mentioning missed points when scoring.

Is cribbage growing in popularity?

We like to think so! There are a few leagues in the area, as well as some local microbreweries that have monthly cribbage tournaments. With some practice, cribbage can be a challenging and fun card game for all ages and abilities while having lots of fun playing. Cribbage is an excellent game for grade-school children to learn as it combines simple math, guessing the odds and predicting outcomes. In fact, there is a fifth-grade teacher in the Merrimack School District who teaches cribbage to his students.

Why should cribbage players consider joining a league?

If you are someone who has played in the past with family or friends and you want to get out and meet new people … or if you are someone who plays online or on a smartphone app and you want something a little more challenging, then our league is a good fit.

Merrimack Cribbage League
Who: The league is open to all. Interested players who are unable to commit to a full season or just want to try it out are welcome to play as a substitute. League organizers help to pair up players without partners.
Where: Second floor of the American Legion, 43 Baboosic Lake Road, Merrimack
When: Weekly, on Wednesday, starting around 5 p.m.
Cost: $5 per weekly play, with payouts for top-scoring teams, and a “quarter cup” awarded for any hand that scores zero points.
More info: Find the group on Facebook at, or email co-organizer Scott Mortimer at

Featured photo: Scott Mortimer. Courtesy photo.

News & Notes 23/02/16

First in the nation

The New Hampshire Senate voted to approve various bills on Feb. 9, including SCR 1, which affirms the General Court’s support for New Hampshire to remain the first-in-the-nation primary state. “The first-in-the-nation primary has been a tradition and a responsibility that our residents have always treated with the respect and seriousness it requires,” the Senate Democratic Caucus wrote in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues from across the aisle to protect our status of going first and ultimately protect the diverse array of candidates, from across the nation and the political spectrum, the New Hampshire primary creates and welcomes.” The Senate also voted to approve SB 114-FN, which permanently codifies the state’s responsibility of contributing 7.5 percent to the New Hampshire retirement system for teachers, firefighters and law enforcement; and SB206, which prohibits corporal punishment in child daycare agencies. Corporal punishment now meets the definition of abuse in New Hampshire’s child care regulations and statutes. “Previous standards were not keeping children safe, allowing individuals to violate the boundaries of the children within their care,” state Sen. Sharon Carson said in a press release. “Granite State children will no longer fall victim to this abuse, and parents can take comfort in knowing that justice will be delivered if/when it does.”

Airport bomb threat

The Manchester-Boston Regional Airport Communications Center received a phone call on Saturday, Feb. 11, about 10:50 a.m., reporting an alleged bomb threat aboard Spirit Airlines Flight 2025 destined for Tampa, Florida. According to a press release, investigators from the Londonderry Police Department led the investigation, with assistance from resources from the Division of State Police, including the Bomb Squad, which responded to the threat, and from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which actively monitored the situation while it was ongoing. Law enforcement searched the flight, re-screening all passengers and baggage and having K9 units sweep the aircraft and terminal building, and determined that there was no security risk. Airport roads reopened and normal operations resumed by afternoon, and no injuries related to the threat were reported. Manchester-Boston Regional Airport released the following statement: “Safety is always our top priority. MHT would like to thank our passengers and guests for their patience and understanding during this incident. The Airport also extends its deep appreciation to law enforcement, airline and mutual aid partners for their assistance in bringing a safe resolution to this incident.”

Walmart bomb threat

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, the New Hampshire Department of Safety announced that it was actively monitoring multiple bomb threats reported in a number of phone calls placed to Walmart stores throughout the state. According to a press release, multiple state agencies assisted local law enforcement agencies in responding to and investigating the calls. The New Hampshire Information and Analysis Center shared information with local, state and federal agencies, and the investigation revealed that other Walmart stores across the country had also received bomb threats. All threats are believed to have been a hoax.

Student protest

Hundreds of students at Milford High School staged a walkout on Friday, Feb. 10, in protest of a new bathroom policy, WMUR reported. The school board voted on Monday to start enforcing a limit on the number of people allowed in a restroom that is equivalent to the number of available stalls in the restroom. Protesting students, who were joined by some teachers and administrators, argued that the policy makes it difficult for students to use the bathrooms in an efficient and timely manner, particularly the students using the male restrooms, in which the urinals have reportedly been covered up with trash bags. The policy was drafted in response to a proposal recently presented to the board to change the school district’s current bathroom policy in regard to gender, from permitting students to use whichever bathroom aligns with their gender identity, to requiring students to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender assigned at birth. The next school board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 20.

Grant for arts group

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation has awarded a $1,620 grant to the Manchester-based community organization Queerlective. According to a press release, the funds will be used to kick-start community events and programming centered around Queerlective’s mission to create and promote inclusive environments for the queer, BIPOC and underserved communities in New Hampshire with a focus on utilizing art for personal and community growth. “With support like this, Queerlective can continue to support the community in bigger and better ways than before,” the group stated in the release. “By closely working with the community and partner organizations, Queerlective is able to respond to community needs and provide opportunities for more impactful gatherings.” The grant follows a recent announcement by Kimball Jenkins, a community arts and cultural center in Concord, that it had partnered with Queerlective as a fiscal sponsor. Visit

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation will host a public informational meeting on Wednesday, March 1, at 6 p.m. at the Meredith Community Center (1 Circle Drive, Meredith) to discuss a culvert replacement project in Meredith. According to a press release, the proposed project would involve a stone culvert with causeway replacement on Meredith Neck Road, a crossing that is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Manchester District Office, on Perimeter Road in Manchester, has reopened after being closed for repairs following water damage caused by burst pipes earlier this month.

Holman Stadium, home of the Nashua Silver Knights collegiate baseball team, will soon be a stop on the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. According to a press release, a plaque will be unveiled at the stadium this spring to honor African American baseball players Roy Campanella, a Hall of Fame catcher, and Don Newcombe, a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, who were signed to play with the Nashua Dodgers in 1946.

Roots & branches

One of my favorite childhood memories is of those family Thanksgiving dinners when, after everyone had finished the meal, the adults sat around the table telling stories and just reminiscing. For some reason, I enjoyed especially hearing about family events that took place before I was born. After hearing such stories, I admit, I looked differently at my aunts and uncles as I now saw them as characters in a larger family drama that extended many years earlier. As I grew older, I often found an opportunity to ask them for further details. Taken together, these stories and their subsequent developments grounded me in a way I didn’t understand at the time.

Now fast forward many years and the young people are my own adult children. The same phenomenon seems to be repeating as they ask their mother and me about details of our childhood, college years, times before we met, and subsequent events before they were born. What has helped greatly in the occasional telling of our family story is the journal I’ve kept for more than 50 years. While not replete with details, it does record events large and small that complement my own memory of the past. And now, as I read back through them, I appreciate even more my record of some of those post-Thanksgiving dinner story sessions of my childhood and can share them. They help me satisfy what seems now to be an apparently inherited curiosity about our family’s past.

Across society these days, curiosity about family history takes many forms, from the popular PBS program Finding Our Roots and the NBC series Who Do You Think You Are? to such widely used genealogical tools as or 23 and Me. Templates for making a family tree are plentiful and becoming easier to populate thanks to online access to a trove of databases. And if you think journaling is a quaint custom of earlier days, Google “journals” and you will find websites that will sell you a book in which to record your experiences or even how to get started. Storyworth, an online facility, sends the subscriber a prompt each week to write a family story and then collects and prints them in a book at the end of the year.

With the recent death of my last surviving uncle, I have now become the eldest of my family generation. So it is not surprising that now it is my turn to encourage the younger generation to begin adding to our family’s growing storybook.

Might it be your turn to do something similar?

You can contact Steve Reno at

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