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Horse racing at Santa Anita

Shot these as part of a work assignment to chronicle the cities that will be served by a new light rail extension (Santa Anita is in Arcadia). The top photo of a couple of classic railbirds is the best of the bunch, I think. I like the last photo, too, taken after the last race of the afternoon with the light fading.

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Mason High School marching band in Tournament of Roses parade

Just doodling around with my camera at the Tournament of Roses parade, which passes near my house. I was going for the Americana thing with the William Mason High School marching band, which hails from the 'burbs of Cincinnati (my hometown). 

Why all pics of flag girls, you ask? Aren't you a really old dude, you ask? Well, here's the thing with marching bands: the musicians wear those funny hats, which tend to shade their eyes. The flag girls also emote a lot more than, say, a clarinet player. 

I shot these with my Nikon 70-300 telephoto lens. I probably shot a little too wide open; some more depth of field would have helped, particularly in the top image -- which has a pleasing composition. Might have been more pleasing if the three girls at right were more defined.  

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The above photos are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved.

Bengals-Steelers playoff game: the NFL becomes the NHL

Cincinnati Bengals fans with long memories will recognize the above photo. It's from a Monday Night Football game against the Steelers in 1983 in which Pittsburgh's Keith Gary tried to remove quarterback Ken Anderson's head. 

I was at the game, which the Bengals lost. I remember the outrage among Cincinnati fans and coach Forrest Gregg that Gary was not penalized despite the fact that Anderson was knocked from the game. Gary later was penalized for a cheap shot on Bengals backup QB Turk Schoenert. Steelers coach Chuck Noll defended Gary. 

There has been a lot of Bengals-Steeler craziness since 1983, but in my almost 40 years as a Bengals fan and NFL fan, I think the second half of the Bengals-Steelers wildcard game was perhaps the craziest and ugliest that I have ever seen. The Bengals absolutely deserved to lose, if for no other reason than with less than two minutes left, they gave the ball back to a team with a good QB, who only needed a field goal to win -- and had three timeouts in his pocket.

In the pass happy NFL, that’s a recipe for disaster. And it was. 

The loss was bad enough. But the sour taste of defeat is compounded by this: the game was about as poorly officiated as can be and the Bengals were the ones that got completely screwed. Basically, it was the NFL taking the NHL approach to things: let the players kill each other and then pretend to sort it out later after the injuries have occurred and the players' brains scrambled. 

Everything wrong with the NFL's approach to player safety was visible on one play: the blatant hit to the head on Bengals running back Giovanni Bernard. Officials did not throw the flag but then -- unbelievably -- reviewed the play at the request of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to determine if Bernard fumbled after being knocked out. 

Stay classy, Pittsburgh! Be classy, Coach Mike! 

The message this sends the rest of the league: head shots are fine (and may not even be flagged) as long as they cause a turnover. 

Aggravating things further: Shawn Williams was flagged earlier for a hit to the head. But when it was a Bengals player put in flag. 

Of course, none of this excuses the Burfict hit on Antonio Brown in the game's final seconds. Both teams were desperate and it was the type of hit that happened so quickly it wasn't obvious what happened at first. But NFL defenders should by now know to do anything possible to avoid head contact -- or the appearance of head contact -- on a stretched-out receiver.