John McEnroe, a Multifaceted Athlete

In 1977 my wife and I attended the U.S. Open at Forest Hills. We saw a night match with this 18 year old American who made the semifinals at Wimbledon just months before. He came out of nowhere in England that year. His name was John McEnroe and he played Dick Stockton that night in New York. What I most recall was this beautiful lefty serve that spun effortlessly away from Stockton’s backhand in the ad court. In other words the ball moved to Stockton’s left. Serving is much like pitching and most astute observers believe location and movement exceed raw speed in the effectiveness of a pitch. I agree. McEnroe’s serve was like nothing I had ever seen. In the next several years Bjorn Borg had to guess to hit it well.

That night in 1977 is reminiscent of a day years later when I first saw Novak Djokovic on the practice court at Indian Wells. I had never seen a tennis player move that well on court. I was stunned by his speed on the green. I can still picture that in my mind’s eye like that beautiful lefty serve in 1977. Some things are so unique you just can’t forget them.

As I followed John’s career he of course had a year in which he only lost 3 matches, 82-3 in 1984. It’s never been equaled in the open era. He played intelligently and delicately. His mastery of the volley was unparalleled amongst his peers as was his overall court sense that made him a great doubles player, as well.

How remarkable, unlike his fellow former players, he has no peer as a tennis announcer. I always enjoy his unique commentary. It is just another sign of the amazing creativity we so enjoyed in his career on court. Thanks for the memories John.

H. Robert Rubin, best-selling, Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, all available on Amazon.

Shakespeare’s View of True Love, Again

So worth another read. In his 116th sonnet Shakespeare addresses the deep relationship that withstands the test of time, marriage. I’ve never heard it put more beautifully.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

H. Robert Rubin, a best-selling, Amazon writer and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? Please Save the Third Dance for Me (memoirs) and The Bloom is on the Rose (novelette), all available on Amazon.

The Red Chinese Threat in the 21st Century

Ultimately if one fights a conventional war the infantry finishes the job. The Red Chinese just kept coming over the hills in Korea. Technically the war has still not ended. We were outnumbered, a condition that persists 65 years later.

Only now Red China has the second largest economy on earth. Perhaps that success is a good thing in terms of avoiding a conventional war. I sure hope so.

Of course in a potential conventional war we may well have technical superiority. On the other hand to date China’s cyber warfare, stealing our technology and privacy, seems effective. Only time will tell how effective our cyber defenses and ingenuity will be against what China develops and/or steals.

Are they challenging? Yes they are. Can they be outdone? Yes they can. I can’t help but believe the freedoms we enjoy will keep the balance of power in our favor at least in the early to mid-21st Century.

But life is complicated particularly the portion called military readiness. I invite your comments.

H. Robert Rubin, MD, memoirist and essayist

Tony Gwynn Revisited

I think Tony was a great natural talent and athlete. In addition I think four factors helped him to become one of the great hitters of the modern era.

First, he was a lefty. That means like Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, etc., he had an advantage over most pitchers as most of them were right handed.

Secondly early in his career he frequently could rely on a steady diet of fastballs because the superb basestealer Alan Wiggins batted ahead of him. Confidence became Tony Gwynn’s middle name.

Thirdly, he may well have invented studying his stroke with videos. Regardless he did so and it helped considerably.

Finally, he learned a lot about hitting at the side of the master his dear friend Ted Williams. Some mentor.

He was a wonderful combination of natural talent and dedication. Tony’s personal attributes were extraordinary: humility, loyalty to one team his entire career and eloquence. Those of us in San Diego will never forget him.

H. Robert Rubin, a best-selling, Amazon memoirist, a novelist with a draft novelette in progress, and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, all available on Amazon

Tiger Woods and the Recent British Open

So the pundits tell us Tiger was there on Sunday but faded. He had the lead. This of course was the 42 year old version, not the young pre-fall from grace Tiger.

What’s changed? I recall the words of an excellent clinical psychologist. I played in a tennis doubles group with him daily in 1973 and 1974. He had been a scratch golfer. We were Augustans and he frequently visited Augusta’s championship of championships. He KNEW sports psychology particularly as it pertained to golf and major championships.

He told us he could never forget what happened to Arnold Palmer’s charge. He said it was lost permanently in the 1966 U.S. Open in which Billy Casper ate his lunch. Arnie was so far ahead it was record breaking. Casper had a putter that had eyes and he used it to full force while Arnie crumbled. The psychologist said that collapse was the end of the Arnie charge. Palmer’s balloon had been punctured. The air came out suddenly and completely. Another charge never occurred.

Confidence, confidence, confidence. It left Tiger with the revelations about his personal life and it never came back. He is very rich. His star still glows. He still has numerous fans. He is still a great interview. But the light went out. I believe Tiger’s psyche just won’t ever be what it was. On top of that his once impressive physical attributes have been threatened by numerous spinal surgeries. In essence, he is just not the same Tiger.

Incidentally at his best he was a golfer who held leads he garnered early in majors, not one who charged from behind on Sundays.

H. Robert Rubin, MD, memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel available at Amazon (electronic and paper formats),  as well as, How Did I Get Through This? to be published on Amazon this year

Wally’s Cafe, a Local Stage Play, a Review

Sunday afternoon, the 15th, my spouse Kristine and I saw Wally’s Cafe at Point Loma Playhouse at the Point Loma Assembly Hall. The play was written by Sam Bobrick and Ron Clark, performed on Broadway in the early 80s and is well-directed here by DeAnna Driscoll (

It covers the lives of a married couple, Wally (James Steinberg) and Louise (Dena Mattox) and a hopeful, Hollywood starlet, Janet (Pati Reynolds). We follow their journey with scenes in 1940, 1958 and 1981. The play’s scenes all take place in this small cafe in the Mojave Desert, where Wally finally gets the freedom of being his own boss. The years of the scenes are cleverly introduced with a blackboard menu changing prices and famous songs playing on the jukebox. All three actors do a delightful job with both the humor and poignancy of this play. At its core the play is about some of life’s true riches.

It is an engaging experience and a chance to support community theater as well. Put your screens away. This is fun. It is now set for only a few more performances the weekend of 20th through the 22nd. Don’t miss it.

H. Robert Rubin, MD, memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel an e-book available at Amazon, soon to be available as a coffee table book, as well as, How Did I Get Through This? to be published on Amazon this year

Our Beloved Friend

My son Chad was about eight. It was 1998. My wife Kristine had never owned a dog. They were together at a nursery that had a litter of American Eskimos. Kris and Chad were just thrilled by those adorable pups.

Kris really wanted one of those little ones. Chad with the artistic eye he’s had since his childhood picked the prince of the litter.

I thought the dog of my youth, Bagel, was the sweetest dog I would ever know. She was a mixture of Daschund and Beagle. This dog who we named Snowy sure surprised me.

I loved him but Kristine was completely smitten. They would share long hugs daily. He was so beautiful he would stop traffic when we walked him. I learned to understand at a deeper level why dogs are so healthy for the rest of us creatures.

Then at 15 years of age he began to chase his own tail, lose his hearing, develop benign little tumors all over his body and get very confused. He was but a tinge of his former self. We had the extremely unpleasant choice to put him down or allow him to continue in his painful state.

We put him down and were with him as life left him in a final exhale that we will never forget. We haven’t purchased another dog in these few years since he’s died. Kris and I realize how painful it would be to lose another FRIEND.

H. Robert Rubin, best-selling, Amazon memoirist and author of LookBackwardAngel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, all available on Amazon.

Does the Whole World Wait in Line?

As I stand here with my pre- Fourth of July goodies in a grocery line, the wait has a familiar ring. The bell that rings dates back to the mid-80s.

I was commuting 100 miles round trip to a lab where I had begun to work. At its best it was a tiresome commute. I was about 39 at the time.

Unknowingly on Thanksgiving eve I left at my routine time, 530 pm. The trip was from Garden Grove, CA. to Woodland Hills, CA. in a late model, brown-orange Toyota Corolla coupe.

At about the halfway point, 25 miles, I realized I was in SoCal gridlock. Southern California, LA in particular, on a routine day had and has the densest traffic in this part of the world. This was not just dense. This was closer to a 50 mile parking lot.

At the end of the journey, despite my youth, my wife Kristine pryed me from the vehicle. It didn’t require the aid of the firemen stationed two blocks away. Nor did it require a large crowbar. But, either option was close.

In retrospect I learned about Thanksgiving eve traffic the hard way, but have heard since traffic can be even worse in Bangkok.