Thursday, March 31, 2005


The International Herald Tribune reported that 22 million Chinese people had signed an electronic petition to keep Japan from getting a U.N. Security Council seat. Now, I can think of a number of good reasons that neither Japan, nor Germany deserves to be on the Security Council. However, saying that 22 million people signed a petition in a country of 1.2 billion is not one of them. I mean, 22 million people is basically the size of New York metro and Los Angeles metro combined. However, China has more people than the entire Western Hemisphere. Thus, as they say, I am not impressed.

Monday, March 28, 2005


The Simpsons tonight had the story of Henry VIII. Thomas More is played by Ned Flanders. This is funny, except that Thomas More is my patron and I wear a Thomas More around my neck. That's crapdiddlycrappy.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


So, this was Holy Week. L sings in the choir at church, so we are there for the entire Tridiuum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil). Services each night stared at 7:30, and Thursday and Friday they ended at about 9:00. Saturday ended just before 11:00. Quite a lot of church. Quite a lot of time for contemplation. Quite a lot of basketball missed. So, here is my Holy Week diary.

Thursday. I think church is at 7:00. I know the Illini are on at 6:20 or so. I am running late, so instead of taking the el to church, I jump in a cab. I am in the cab when L calls me to see what's going on. She points out that I am aiming for the wrong time. I improvise on the fly by finding out where the car is, and dumping my bag in the car on my way to watch the first half of the Illini game. I go to a bar a block from the church and sit at the bar. Then I order a Coke, because I am not drinking before I go to Holy Thursday services. The bartenders look at me like I'm a goof. Then, I leave at half time of a good game and they think I am a real goof.

Friday I had the day off work. I take L to the choir call at 5:30 or so. I again duck into the same bar and order a Coke. The bartenders remmeber me. Oh boy, Cokes and half time. And so it goes again.

Saturday L needs to be there are 5:30 or so again. I sit in the car and make a few phone calls, then head over to THE SAME BAR for the Illini regional final. I have been back and forth all week about watching the Illini game and going to the Vigil. I finally decide I'd be an idiot to go to church every Sunday (OK, maybe 7 of 8) all year and skip the Easter Vigil for basketball. By half time the bartenders seem to have decided that I am eccentric but harmless and are talking to me like I'm retarded. Nothing new there, I guess. Anyway, the Illini are up two. I have made new "friends" who are (a) shocked to realize I'm drinking pop, and (b) shocked to realize that I really am leaving at the half. So am I. And so I reach a new low point. I call my buddy K. Itell him that he must, must, must text me the results of the game. He's a Methodist. He doesn't care about my immortal soul and getting texts in church.

I am going crazy in church. Then I get the first text. It says "Down by 12. This sucks." I am grim. Still waiting for a final though. The next text says "O.T." I text back "?". If he's fucking with me, I will have him killed. Return text "STAY TUNED." As if I have somewhere else to be. I am going crazy. Squirming all over the pew, acting like a four year old at church. Meanwhile, a very severe dowager across the aisle is glaring at me for pulling out my phone once a minute. In fairness to me though, I am in the very back of church, with the crazy people, kids, and other assorted goofs. I mean, I'm not on the altar, for God's sake. I finally get another text that says "WIN 90-89. WOW." I am giddy and start smiling right as the Father mentions in his homily the tsunami victims in December. Stoopid lousy reality.

L and I have worked out a sign, since she is in front singing. When the choir moves to the loft during the Confirmations, I will show a fist for "Illini win" and a flat hand for "Illini lose." I can't wait. When the candidates come back for baptism I walk half way forward to show the fist. I am walking on air.

The Vigil is suddenly flying by. Then we get to communion. The funny thing is that I never sit way in back. Therefore, I never see what is going on back there. Turns out quite a lot. For instance, when Communion starts, all of the Latins in the back of the church jet forward like it is a jailbreak. Apparently in Mexico and Central America they don't wait until the row in front of them gets up to get up. The jailbreakers look genuinely confused when the usher sends them back to their seats. I guess they assumed that the people who have not gotten up yet in the 25 aisles between them and the communion rail were not taking communion.

It also tuns out that the Latins have lots of places to be during a chuch service. People are literally wandering the back of chuch looking at stuff. Adults. Not little kids. Forty and fifty years old. Amazing. Meanwhile, little kids are literally running up and down the aisle for the entire service. It was crazy. Reminds me of depictions of medieval masses, where people are herding sheep through the building, selling food, etc. while the Mass goes on in front.

By the way, L's sister and her husband have Final Four tickets in StL. They have agreed to hook me and K up for the national semifinal. I will be in StL for Saturday's game against Louisville.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


It's 7:20. So the early games are over. Illinois won. Phew. There is nothing more nerve wracking than caring about a team for real. On the other hand, what happened to Oklahoma? What is that all about? Damned Sooners. Now I have 14 Sweet 16 teams left. Dammit!

Anyway, Wisconsin-Milwaukee was gold for me, which is nice. If they keep living by my bracket Illinois will beat them next week. Pacific CHOKED for me, but I have G.Tech in the Sweet 16 anyway. Ditto Gonzaga and Wake. As I said before, everyone west of the Rockies sucks.

30-8, with 14 Sweet 16 teams left. Go Kentucky!

It's 9:42. OK, Kentucky made it more interesting than I wanted, but at least Bob "Huggy Bear" Huggins is gone. Let me say this. The man wore a blue shirt today. He had to know he was going to work up a good lather. Wear a white shirt. Jeez, blue isn't even a team color. By the way, since I have Illinois beating Kentucky in the finals, watching Huggy Bear's thugs make it a game was NOT a happy thing. As the hippy on South Park said, "Uncool, man."

31-8, waiting for Wake and West Virginia to get through OT.

It's 10:22. Wake sucks. 31-9. I have lost a Final Four team.

Friday, March 18, 2005


I can’t do a minute-by-minute blog. That is for people who blog for a living. I can, however, keep a running commentary. For instance, NC State, who I picked, had to outscore Charlotte by 19 in the second half to win by 12. Way to dig yourself a hole, fellas.

It’s 1:35. I picked Florida. There is 1:14 left in Florida versus Ohio. Ohio just TIED THE DAMNED GAME. Are you kidding me? I hate Florida. From the humidity, to Bobby Bowden, to today’s game, I have nothing good to say about the state. Regardless of whether the Gators pull this off, I hate them. Florida: America’s wang.

Then comes the Big (11) Ten. What was I thinking? Minnesota? I should have seen them losing. I should have known that Illinois and Michigan State are the only two quality teams in the Big (11) Ten. Should’ve. Could’ve. Would’ve. Damn.

Oklahoma State gave me my second win of the day and confidence should the Illini face them. I appreciate their letting Southeast Louisiana hang around until the end. Not too different from the Illini and FDU last night, but that’s good. I am concerned enough about Nevada without Oklahoma State actually playing well. I can always rely on Eddie Sutton to have teams like that.

It’s 1:52. Florida pulled it out. I hate them. I am tempted to rail on Billy Donovan and say he’s another Quin Snyder, Steve Alford, but unlike those two, his team plays Sunday, so I guess that is unfair. It will have to suffice for me to say I hate Florida.

3-1 after four games today, 16-4 overall.

4:30. SIU and Nova come through. Good to see coming out of an interminable meeting. 7-1 today, 20-4 overall. Half of my losses are attributable to the Big (11) Ten. Damn them. Damn them all to Florida.

L and I decide to go out for some Friday night Fish Fry. Games are on. Vermont is about to knock Syracuse off. I am pissed. That is a bracket buster. Cheering against all reason for a Boehiem team to be clutch. They are not. When we get home, L checks the brackets. I have Vermont winning that game. I rule. Life is good. 21-4.

Duke gets all it can handle from Delaware State, but wins. Just win baby. Michigan State gets all it can handle from Old Dominion, but wins. Thank God. The last time I remember seeing ODU play, it must have been about 1982 or 1983 when they upset number one DePaul. I was traumatized by the DePaul loss, and have always remembered "Old Dominion." What kind of a name is that? Stoopid. Mississippi State proves again that nobody on the far side of the Rockies can ball and that if the RPI says so it is a liar. A filthy, stinking liar. 24-4.

The late games are a blur of loathing Bill Self. Part of me hopes that the Illini are up watching something called a "Buckhell" knock Kansas out of the first round. Part of me wants them to rest up for a good Nevada team. Although I have Kansas in the Sweet 16, it is worth it to see Self get knocked down a few pegs to screw my bracket. Besides, two days into the NCAAs, and I still have 15 of my Sweet 16 teams. 27-5.

13-3. Seems OK, until you know that I picked tremendous upset Wisconsin-Milwaukee over Alabama, and had Pacific over Pitt, and Nevada over Texas. What, you may ask, did I get wrong then?

Well, funny thing about my thought processes. For instance, I am an Illinois fan. Iowa played Illinois very well this year. Cincinnati was destroyed by Illinois. Ergo, I assumed that Iowa would manhandle a vastly overrated Cincinnati team. You know what they say about assuming. It makes an ass out of my bracket. Similarly, UCLA went into Notre Dame two weeks ago when ND needed to win to get into the NCAA tournament (hope all of the Irish fans enjoyed that one NIT game they got) and beat ND. Seems like UCLA is supposed to be a good road team. Seems like the PAC 10 is supposed to be a very strong conference. Seems like Texas Tech is supposed to be a football school with an unstable coach. Seems like I got a bad case of the "supposed tos" and got screwed by damned UCLA. Finally, LSU sucks. The SEC sucks.

However, Day Two is a new day, with a new opportunity to fo 16-0. Besides I had UCLA, Iowa, and LSU all losing their next games anyway.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Today it was reported that most of the city of Pretoria will be renamed Tshwane. I think this is a bad sign for South Africa. Changing the names seems to be the thing to do when you have nothing else to offer. Note the chnages from Burma to Myanamar, the change from Cambodia to Kampuchea, the change from Congo to Zaire and back again, and the name changes dozens of cities in Africa have undergone. If the South African government were taking care of business, it is unlikely that anyone would really care if they were in Pretoria or Tshwane.

At least the government gave fair warning that the country is about to be in the toilet.