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Tramel's ScissorTales: Don't be angry with OU over the SEC move, with $22 million at stake

Berry Tramel
Oklahoman

When news surfaced that OU and Texas were considering leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, anyone with a trace of allegiance to the state had to be pained. Especially when we realized the considering was long since finished. 

What would such a move mean for OSU? What would such a move mean for the Big 12? What would such a move mean for Kansas State and Iowa State and Kansas, schools that have been competing with OU for literally 100 years? 

A variety of opinions settle on this theory. The remaining Big 12 schools are angry with the Longhorns and disappointed in the Sooners. 

I never split such sentiments. Texas always got too much blame for conference acrimony, OU never enough. Both are big dogs that exerted their will on the Big 12. If you’re going to be angry, be angry at both. 

But don’t be angry. 

All the emotion of OU’s exit went away when the numbers started percolating. The Sooners and Longhorns figure to make around $60 million per year with SEC payouts, a boost of $22 million over the last full-year Big 12 payout. 

Tramel:OU's and Texas' move to the SEC spurred by lost faith in the Big 12

You make $20 million or so more per year, and there’s no decision to be made. 

Who among us wouldn’t move to the other side of town, if offered a 50% raise? 

The Monday ScissorTales finish up our series on repicking the NBA Draft and check in on Bill Hancock’s Olympic adventure. But we start with OU’s decision to leave the Big 12. 

Sep 3, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; The SEC logo on the chains during a game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the UCLA Bruins at Kyle Field. Texas A&M won in overtime 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

College athletics are many things. Opportunity for athletes. Community beacons. But foremost, they are a business. If the money is in the same hemisphere, heck yeah, be a good partner. Look out for your neighbor. Hold on to old traditions. Old acquaintance should not be forgot. 

But when the money difference is $20 million or $22 million per year? Screw Auld Lang Syne. It’s every man for himself. 

Carlson:Why the Bedlam rivalry wouldn't have to end if OU, OSU Big 12 affiliation does

And the Big 12 knows that. 

After presidents for the eight remaining schools met last week, The Athletic reported last week that “the eight remaining schools pledged on their call last night to stay together, but they also are making contingency plans … the process is in play among remaining Big 12 members to assess their potential value to other conferences.” 

And of course that’s the plan. There could be no other plan. OSU and Baylor and Iowa State and Kansas and West Virginia and Texas Christian and Kansas State and Texas Tech have to look out for themselves. 

And that’s what OU did. 

“It’s not our job to support those schools,” said an OU source. 

Not when the difference to OU is $20 million or more. 

Repicking the 2019 NBA Draft 

We finish our series of repicking the NBA Drafts of the 21st century. The 2019 draft is the least relative to this endeavor, because who the heck knows how any of these players will turn out? 

OK, Zion Williamson is going to turn out fine. But will Ja Morant become Russell Westbrook or Tyreke Evans? Will R.J. Barrett be Donovan Mitchell or Brandon Jennings? 

Two seasons isn’t enough to make too many declarations, including the quality of the draft. I ranked the 15 best players from that draft so far, using basketball-reference.com metrics and my own judgment. The top five were selected 1-2-3-20-12. 

That makes sense. The highest picks usually get the quickest chances. We’ll see if the quality and the selections remain in step. 

Here are the top 15: 

1. Zion Williamson (first to the Pelicans): Zion has missed 53 games over two seasons because of injury. Other than that, he’s been everything his massive reputation built him up to be, including average 25.7 points a game. 

2. Ja Morant (second to the Grizzlies): A superstar in the making, averaging 18.4 points and 7.3 assists as the Memphis cornerstone point guard. 

3. R.J. Barrett (third to the Knicks): Played much better as an NBA sophomore, shooting 40 percent from 3-point range while averaging 17.6 points. 

4. Matisse Thybulle (20th to the 76ers, via trade): Second-team all-NBA defense in 2020-21, a huge achievement for a second-year player. Has averaged only 4.3 points a game, but his production went up in the 2021 playoffs. 

5. P.J. Washington (12th to the Hornets): Underrated forward who has averaged 12.6 points and 6.0 rebounds a game while shooting 38.1 percent from 3-point range and playing solid defense. 

2019: Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

6. Brandon Clarke (21st to the Grizzlies, via trade): An immediate contributor in Memphis who always will be linked with OKC’s Darius Bazley. The Thunder drafted Clarke then immediately traded him for the just-drafted Bazley. Clarke was the better player instantly. But Clarke turns 25 in September. Bazley turned 21 last month. Bazley’s numbers went way up his second year (13.7 points, 7.2 rebounds), while Clarke’s went down (10.3, 5.6). Bazley’s production was a matter of playing time and volume; his stock probably fell his second year. If this list was based on the future, Bazley would be listed higher. 

7. Darius Garland (fifth to the Cavaliers): Has made 109 starts in two years and averaged 14.8 points while shooting 37.4% from deep. But the advanced metrics are not a fan.  

8. Coby White (seventh to the Bulls): Made 54 starts for Chicago last season and averaged 15.1 points and 4.8 assists per game. But do the Bulls want him as their point guard of the future? 

9. Rui Hachimura (ninth to the Wizards): Productive in Washington, averaging 13.7 points and 5.8 rebounds in two seasons, during which he’s started all 105 games of his career.  

10. Tyler Herro (13th to the Heat): A hero on Miami’s run to the 2020 NBA Finals, Herro has averaged 14.3 points over his 109 NBA games. But his defense can be a problem. 

11. Cameron Johnson (11th to the Suns, via trade): A key cog in Phoenix’s run to the NBA Finals, averaging in the playoffs 8.2 points and shooting 44.6% on 3-pointers. But his regular seasons have been about the same, 9.2 points, but with 36.7% 3-point shooting. 

12. Keldon Johnson (29th to the Spurs): One of San Antonio’s seemingly-endless supply of wings who can do all kinds of things. Johnson broke out in 2020-21, averaging 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds, though with just 33.3% 3-point shooting. 

13. DeAndre Hunter (fourth to the Hawks, via trade): Injuries have limited Hunter, but he’s been an excellent wing defender while averaging 13.0 points over 86 games. 

14. Terance Mann (48th to the Clippers): Wouldn’t be on the list without his playoff breakout. Mann has averaged 5.3 points over 108 NBA games. Then Mann averaged 7.6 points for the Clippers in the 2021 playoffs and shot 43.2 percent from 3-point range, including a 39-point game to close out the Jazz in the West semifinals. 

15. Cam Reddish (10th to the Hawks): Reddish is a good example of why it’s too early to tell about this draft. The Hawk wing, picked 10th overall, has been mostly hurt but returned during the Eastern Conference finals and played well. 

Other notables from the 2019 draft: 

► Another warning sign — don't get too caught up on players getting an extensive run with a bad team. Eric Paschall, picked 41st overall, was productive as a rookie, but he got a bunch of minutes on a bad team. 

► Kevin Porter Jr., 30th overall to the Cavaliers via trade, had a 50-point game for Houston in April against Milwaukee. But that can happen with opportunity. 

► Everyone is high on Talen Horton-Tucker of Iowa State, taken 46th overall, but sometimes Lakers can be overrated. Horton-Tucker has averaged 8.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in 71 career games. 

► It’s too early to declare anyone a bust, but Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, picked sixth, has done little in two Minnesota seasons. Another Big 12 player, center Jaxson Hayes of Texas, has been promising in New Orleans. 

Mailbag: Fixing the Big 12

Readers are consumed with ways to salvage the Big 12 – or ways that would have kept the dissolution from happening in the first place: 

Mark: “Here are some miscellaneous ramblings that will mostly just demonstrate my naivete about big time college football. It is fairly obvious the Big 12 has pretty much failed all of its members, not just OU and Texas. They obviously should have rebuilt to 12 teams years ago, and with the best schools they could possibly attract. It is probably too late to save the conference already. However, here are a couple of ideas that would require the conference to basically admit it is going to be stuck at a secondary level, at least for now. Texas A&M just might be willing to come back to the Big 12 if it means they can escape Texas. If Texas A&M were willing to return, perhaps Missouri, who hasn't had a lot of fun in the SEC, might also be willing to come back. Also, without Texas lording it over everybody, in spite of their current program quality, maybe Nebraska would reconsider its membership in the Big Ten. Then one more decent school brings us back to 12 members. If we can go looking, seriously looking, there may be some schools ready to make us 14 or more; Louisville (whom we should have reached out to last time we lost schools), Cincinnati, Arkansas (probably not interested, but why not check) and Boise State to name a few. Like I said, I am probably showing how naive I am about college football, but maybe?” 

Tramel: Mark, you’re right. You are naive. Yes, this is all wishful thinking. 

First of all, the Big 12 had no options to rebuild to 12 members, without crippling the value of its television contract. No available prospect would have meant as much television money to the conference as it was losing with Nebraska (and eventually A&M). The networks sacrificed to keep the Big 12 stable, paying the same rate for TCU and West Virginia as it was for A&M and Missouri. It wasn’t going to add a similar bump for Louisville and Cincinnati, or Boise State and Brigham Young, or Houston and Central Florida. 

Adding two more mouths to feed would have lessened the per-school payout. That would have made the gap between the Big 12 and the SEC/Big Ten even greater. OU and Texas would have been looking to get out even sooner. 

As for A&M or Nebraska or anyone else coming back to the Big 12, there's no way. Who functions that way? Come join us for less money (a lot less) and less prestige (a lot less) and less certainty (a lot less). 

No school is going to take a massive cut in television money, with no great promise of it rising. Businesses don’t do that. People don’t do that. You might take a risk, but only with a big reward. The Big 12 offers no big reward. 

This is a market-driven problem. 

Bill Hancock’s Olympic adventure 

Another Olympiad has arrived, and you know what that means – daily dispatches from everyone’s favorite Oklahoman, Bill Hancock. 

The Hobart native who has carved a career as director of college sports’ biggest events – the Final Four for decades, now the College Football Playoff since its 2014 inception – is a long-time Olympic volunteer, going back to the 1984 (summer) and 2006 (winter) games. 

Hancock writes a daily letter to family and friends, giving them an inside look at Olympic life. He and his wife, Nicki, are in Tokyo: 

“July 23, Friday: (Please excuse the typos and lousy writing in this friendly message to family members. They are sweethearts and so will not object to sloppiness. Must hurry, because there is much Olympics to explore.) 

“Commute by bus from the Hotel Sunroute Ginza through the thrilling city, then across the graceful Rainbow Bridge — 42 minutes to the Media Transport Mall (MTM), then seven more easy minutes on a different bus to the Main Press Center (MPC). 

“The MPC and IBC (International Broadcast Center) are in the splendid Tokyo Big Sight convention center. It’s a big ole place. 

“Breakfast: Fruit cocktail, YLS (yummy little sausages), fried eggs, pasta and corn. 

“Experimental Japanese Food Du Jour – Sticky soybeans. Looked like a cross between dippin’ dots and a French delicacy, but tasted a lot like shoes. Came with little packets of sauce. If I had been able to open the packets, maybe the sticky soybeans would have tasted like shoes avec sauce. 

“The MPC is hoppin’ today. It’s opening ceremony day! (Pet peeve that I picked up from Mark Jones: don’t call it ‘ceremonies.’ There’s only one. It’s like the College Football Playoff. Singular.) 

“Volunteer du jour: Tom, American college student, trying to direct reporters to their seats. And, maybe more importantly, to the concession stand. 

“I’ll bet if you asked 100 Olympics people what year it is, 50 would say 2020, because of Tokyo 2020. I haven’t heard anyone bat an eye about these being the 2020 Games. 

“They did bat for a couple of days because your shirt is the only way to dry hands in the restroom. No paper towels. No blow driers. I usually just shake them, like the hokey pokey.  

“Comment from a friend back home in America: ‘I assume they’ll be busing you to the Olympic sites? Are you all running the press area on this trip? That’s what you have done in the past. Correct?’ Answer to same friend: Yes on the buses. But no on ‘running’ anything. I am a minion. And loving it! 

“In the airport we saw an ideal example of suiseki, the Japanese art form with beautiful arrangements of small rocks designed around plants and larger rocks. The ground is ridges of small rocks, looking like a perfectly plowed, newly planted cotton field. 

“In the MPC there is a small house filled with examples of ikebana. The sign says to just stand, smell the flowers, and relax and pray for the end of Covid and for world peace. Nicki does that every day. 

“Lunch: Granola, carrots and a roll with butter and strawberry jelly, left over from breakfast. Oh, and two Oreos. 

“In PyeongChang, the local hosts gave us little plastic cups with noodles for free. Here, we get chocolate bars the size of dominoes. Four times a day, a guy fills a tray with milk, dark and super-duper milk versions. They’re gone in 37 minutes or so. Yummy. 

“I need to say this: even for us devotees of Allen Fieldhouse, the Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world. 

“Weather: Hot and windy again. High 90. Low a sweet low-70s. The bay brings romance. 

“Japan Fact that surely must be true because somebody told me: Tokyo was formerly known as Edo. The name was changed to Tokyo in 1890 in the Meiji Restoration. 

“This evening I carried tickets to the Olympic stadium and stuck around for most of the opening ceremony. The bus dropped us in the wrong place. We deboarded into a neighborhood with no one to show us where to go. Being ‘lost’ was kinda fun. I got off first and felt like I had landed in Oz, except with no Munchkins—and certainly no Lollipop Guild. We walked through a lovely sort of a garden with beautiful trees and emerged into a rugby stadium, smelling the grass. 

“We walked a little more. No one paid a bit of attention to us; I wondered if we were supposed to be where we were, but didn’t see any escape and didn’t really care because it was fun to walk among the trees. Suddenly we were next to the Armenia team all decked out in Armenia outfits. We watched them stop at a little aid station for individually shrink-wrapped bananas and other snacks. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking: ALL bananas are individually wrapped. But these had a second layer of man-made shrink.) 

“Finally inside the mostly empty Olympic stadium, it was impossible not to feel crushing disappointment for everyone who should have been here enjoying the moment -- people who lost their lives to the pandemic, parents who carried their sons and daughters to this pinnacle and then had to stay home watching Savannah Guthrie, and Japanese folks who put their hearts and souls and dreams into the Olympics. Imagine. 

“But the parade of nations always brings a pleasant tear to my eye. More so tonight. The participants are just so blasted happy! Against the steepest odds since Appalachian State-Michigan, the people of the world have come together again. Bless its heart, the human spirit is strong. 

“Dinner: Noodles, something deep-fried, ham, broccoli and other delicious stuff in a box — bento box. I called it a Benton box but Nicki corrected me. 

“We caught the 12:10 bus from the MPC to the Hotel Sunroute Ginza. The city lights were spectacular. 

“P.S. We heard someone yelling or screaming off to the right as we left the stadium. ‘You’re from the sixties!’ I thought, like James Earl Jones. Mostly we just saw dozens of people standing silently along the little fence next to the security area. Like when TV doesn’t show a streaker on the field, that’s all I have to say about that. 

“What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Sayonara, for now. 

“July 24, Saturday: Breakfast — Fruit cocktail, carrots, corn, tasty little sausages, roll with butter and jelly and BPSE (the best potato salad ever.) We fill a little box with food and take it back to our room to eat it. 

“Experimental Japanese Food — Seaweed. Dark green but not spinach-slimey. Tasted like rubber bands. 

“The sky was drizzly when we walked from the Hotel Sunroute Ginza to the bus stop. Which caused me to make a mental note to load my umbrella into my backpack which is already straining at the zippers. 

“Commute by bus from the Hotel Sunroute Ginza through the thrilling city, then across the graceful Rainbow Bridge — 29 minutes to the Media Transport Mall. Then I walked the 20 minutes to the Main Press Center. The weather was already hot but the walk was pleasant. And I saw some crepe myrtle! Red! I’ll walk again. And again. And again. 

“Bad news: now that more reporters are staying at the Hotel Sunroute Ginza, the WiFi is slow and inconsistent. I have a few Zooms next week. Maybe I will have to ride the media bus around and around, like Charlie and the MTA. 

“When I talked to the woman at the front desk about the poor WiFi, she smiled and said something to the effect that ‘I called the company.’ It’s the non-confrontational Japanese way. I don’t expect any improvement. Sigh. 

“By the way, the name of the WiFi on the media buses is ‘Sushi 2020.’  

“Set your watches: when it’s 11 a.m. Monday in Binger, it’s 1 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo. 

“Best phrase in Japanese so far, even more important than Donde esta el bano? ‘Watashi wa negatibu ni tesuto shimashita.’ It means, ‘I tested negative.’ 

“私はネガティブにテストしました 

“Volunteer du jour: Yoki, age 26, who was working at the MPC. Tiny and cute (redundancy), she went to school in Oregon. 

“Note from a friend back in America: As a Trojan alum … while I appreciate the shoutout of our cornucopia of Olympians, I feel compelled to remind you (as Tim Tessalone has done for about 35 years at this point) that USC does not like to be referred to as Southern Cal. Comment from Bill: Duly noted. Fight on. 

“Lunch: Carrots, BPSE, granola, chocolate bar. 

“Comment from a friend back home in America -- ‘So you’re staying in Ginza. That’s THE most expensive part of Tokyo. There are some nice departos (department stores) in that area and there are a million good, but very expensive restaurants. Ginza is usually quite clean and the auto traffic (and parking) is crazy around there.’  

“I need to say this: even for us devotees of spring training baseball, the Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world. 

“Weather: Hot and windy again, high 90. Low 70-something.   

“Japan Fact that surely must be true because somebody told me: ‘The cherry blossom is the national symbol of Japan. In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City gave 2,000 Japanese cherry trees to Washington, D.C. Those trees were found to be infested with beetles and had to be destroyed before they were planted, so Mayor Ozaki donated 3,000 more trees. They were planted and the gift has been commemorated every year in Washington since 1934 with the National Cherry Blossom Festival.’ 

“Dinner: Pizza from the little pizza restaurant in the MPC. Darn fine. Thank you, Kate! 

“Tonight one of our drivers took us back to the Hotel Sunroute Ginza. Fun! It was like we were in a new city because cars can go where buses can’t. And vice-versa.  

“What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Sayonara, for now. 

“Sunday, July 25: Breakfast — Fruit cocktail, sausages, pasta, corn, carrots, little sausages, BPSE (best potato salad ever.) 

“So far, the buses have been little Felix Ungers. On time, tidy and organized. 

“Yesterday we were told that our bus now arrives at :59 after the hour, rather than :44. Today Nicki and I were lounging in the shade of the pedestrian overpass, happily reading the news on our phones, out of sight from the bus stop, when a French journalist shouted, ‘Sir, the bus is here!’ Indeed, it had arrived at :43. Merci beaucoup! 

“Commute by bus from the Hotel Sunroute Ginza through the thrilling city, then across the graceful Rainbow Bridge — 28 minutes to the Media Transport Mall, then seven more easy minutes on a different bus to the Main Press Center. 

“I totally LOVE riding the bus. I see something different every day. Today, a sign on a window: ‘Men’s Eyebrow Salon.’ 

“Sunday…Sunday…SUNDAY! The city was quieter than usual but still beautiful. 

“Our friend Bob Condron always advised to check that you have the three C’s before leaving your hotel room at the Olympics: cell phone, credential and key. Tokyo will be my 14th Olympics. Nicki’s 8th.  (I have listed our lodging, too.) 

“1984: Los Angeles (Biltmore Hotel, downtown LA; Nicki went as a spectator); 

“1988: Seoul (‘Olympic Family Town’ apartments) 

“1992: Barcelona (Hotel Victoria) 

“1996: Atlanta (Marriott Residence Inn near Georgia Tech; Nicki went as a spectator) 

“2000: Sydney (apartment in Bankstown) 

“2004: Athens (hospital near the Main Press Center) 

“2006: Torino (apartment near the Main Press Center)  

“2008: Beijing (Beijing Normal University) 

“2010: Vancouver (Coast Vancouver Hotel near the airport)  

“2012: London (Montague Hotel in Bloomsbury adjacent to Russell Square) 

“2014: Sochi (nice apartment in the media village)  

“2016: Rio (Hotel Mercure in Barra) 

“2018: Pyeongchang (apartment in the high-rise media village in Gangneung)  

“2021: Tokyo (Sunroute Ginza Hotel) 

“We added a fourth to Bob’s list back in London: computer. And now there’s a fifth: ‘covering, face.’ (Mask doesn’t begin with a ‘C.’) 

“Now I added another C each day: to make sure Nicki is with me: ‘Chick.’ 

“One little glitch: I am not real fond of Japanese Kleenex. 

“Covid Counter-Measure du jour: Yes, everyone at the Olympics wears a mask all day, except when eating or drinking, of course. Every. Single. Person. And no one complains. No. One. Complains. (Must admit some guilty pleasure when I return to the hotel room and rip off the mask as Mr. Trump did on the balcony.) 

“By the way, do you remember those World War II movies, when the plane is going down and the pilot pulls his mask aside and says to the co-pilot, ‘Tom, we’re not going to make it; you’ve been a great partner and you should bail out now.’ Then Tom pulls his mask aside and refuses to leave and the movie ends and we all cry?  I feel like that when I slide my mask aside to gulp some water. 

“Japanese Food Experiment: Trout. It tasted like American trout, which I like in Colorado with beer. 

“I’m sure many Hobart people have been to Tokyo. I know about these three: 

“1. R.J. Stephens, Hobart High class of 1933, who flew to Tokyo April 18, 1942, with 79 other guys who were Doolittle’s Raiders. He was in Group 4. His plane crash-landed in China; he made his way to India and returned to the war. He moved back to Hobart later. 

“2. Nathan Gardner, also HHS class of ‘33, who reportedly was with General MacArthur’s party on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay September 2, 1945, just a stone’s throw from where we are this morning. Well, maybe a few stones or a Garth Brooks javelin throw. I’m dreaming of going to where the Missouri was berthed but am not optimistic -- and not convinced that there’s anything to commemorate the site. 

“3. James Barnes, HHS class of ’67, brilliant musician, son of a feed-lot operator and possibly America’s premier composer for wind ensemble, who has been visited Japan maybe 30 times to do clinics and conduct his works which are extremely popular here. 

“Despite the perfection and efficiency there must be 9,017 things to trip over. Inexplicable raised spots in the sidewalk, curbs, pebbles, power cords under carpets, peas (for Princess Nicki) and paving stones. And I have hit about 37 of them already. But it’s early. I will be on the podium in that sport. 

“Volunteer du jour: Minami, who wouldn’t tell me her age. Her job was in collecting tubes containing saliva to be shipped off somewhere for COVID testing. It’s not a glamorous job, but in 40 years, she will be able to tell her grandchildren that she worked on the Olympics. And that will mean something! 

“Sign on bus: ‘Please do not leave anything behind you.’ Olympics motto: Never make fun of signs that were written in our own language. At least there ARE signs. And how good would our signs be if we wrote them in Cyrillic. Or in Japanese characters? 

“I enjoy the Olympics always, of course, but there’s a special magic in a country where folks don’t speak English. It just requires a little more effort.  

“Lunch: Granola, roll, BPSE (best potato salad ever), carrots, corn. All left over from breakfast. We’re not supposed to eat at our desks in the office, so Nicki and I grab our lunch and sit in the eight-table media lounge on the fourth floor. People make fun of us. I say, ‘I am taking my special date to a fancy restaurant.’ 

“I need to say this: even we devotees of the Bedlam Series have to acknowledge that the Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world. 

“Weather: Hot and windy. 91 and 70-something. Again. People were roasting at outdoor events such as skateboarding.  

“But change is ahead. A man breathlessly said today that a typhoon is headed for Tokyo. Tuesday. The organizers of the rowing event even changed the schedule because of it. (‘It’s not a typhoon,’ another journalist whispered. ‘At home, we would call it a tropical depression.’) Dueling journalists…I love it! 

“But the storm is big enough to have a name —Nepartak. 

“Japan Fact that surely must be true because somebody told me: Tokyo has the most top-rated restaurants in the world and has over 14 three-star Michelin restaurants. 

“I wonder how many different varieties of noodles are in Japan? I wonder how many I will be able to consume? If there’s a Guinness record, I will try to achieve it. 

“My job here is to help reporters. The help sometimes begins before they arrive, as you will see in this email exchange: 

“‘Sir, Thanks for your help. Quick question: this will be my first time leaving the country, is there anything I need to know? I see that it is a big cash culture in Japan so I am squared away on that end. Sincerely, Brenae (not her real name). 

“‘Dear Brenae, thanks. You are in for a great experience! There’s so much to learn, and you will be a real veteran by the time you return home. I assume you have followed the requirements for entry into Japan. When you get here, just remember that (1) you will be exhausted from the flight, but it will pass, (2) you MUST drink plenty of water, and (3) everything takes longer than at home! And know that you are not alone; many people are here to help, including those of us here in the Main Press Center. Come see us. Bill.’ 

“Dinner: Carrots, corn, BPSE, roll with butter and jelly. Oreos. 

“My friend Bill got the idea to take a taxi from the MPC to the Hotel Sunroute Ginza, rather than riding the bus. There’s a taxi stand at the MPC, so we connected with a driver. Unfortunately he didn’t speak English. I got the idea to put the hotel into Google Maps on my phone to show him. Something even better popped up: the hotel’s street address in Japanese characters! What a world! 

“We zoomed back, cutting 30 minutes off the trip, which allowed me to arrive in time to watch Japanese soccer with Japanese commentary and Japanese commercials on the TV in the room while catching up on email. 

“By the way, our cozy hotel room gets 10 channels, one in English: BBC World News. But we’re only in the hotel to sleep, fiddle with clothes and bump into each other walking sideways between the bed and the little shelf to brush our teeth. 

“What a privilege to be here! Every day is an adventure. Sayonara, for now.” 

Classic Pick Flicks: “Network” 

Playwright Paddy Chayefsky always had a winner in “Network,” which for decades was considered an American classic. Then the 2010s came along, with populism returning en masse, and “Network” became prescient. 

“Network”, released in 1976, is the story of a fictional U.S. television network using an angry, aging new anchor to rally the masses, with his “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” The resulting fanfare triggers a variety of results that are both stunning and horrific. 

The plot of “Network” probably seemed preposterous in the 1970s. Forty years later, not so much. 

The cast is superb, with Peter Finch as the angry news anchor, Faye Dunaway as the ambitious program director who seizes the opportunity to market the anger, William Holden as the news director trying to maintain standards, Beatrice Straight as the news director’s wife, Ned Beatty as the corporate chairman and Robert Duvall as yet another network executive. 

Finch won the Oscar for best actor, Dunaway won for best actress, Straight won for best supporting actress and Chayefsky won for best original screenplay. “Network” also was nominated for six other Oscars, including best picture, best actor (Holden), best director (Sidney Lumet) and best supporting actor (Beatty). 

“Network” is the ultimate satire and black-comedy that 45 years later comes much too close to the truth. 

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at btramel@oklahoman.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.