Friday, March 28, 2008

Farewell to 2007-08

A spectacular and historic college basketball season has nearly ended here in the Inland Northwest. Washington State and Gonzaga spent much of the season in the Top 25, meaning my Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and some Sundays were spent watching basketball games. I figure I covered 25 Top 25 games this year. That's a lot of tight deadlines.

Gonzaga lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and Washington State lost to North Carolina in the Sweet 16. This weekend I'm helping out at the women's NCAA regional finals in Spokane, meaning three more games and my season is officially over.

There are worse assignments than top college basketball. Like, virtually everything. But I do look forward to covering some news for awhile.

All that basketball was good for some things. I am currently ranked third in my NCAA pool, and still have a chance to win. Go Bruins.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nickfest Begins

Finally, we have some people on board with the concept of Nickfest.

On Monday evening, Charlie Lemcke from my tennis team gave me the first present of the year-long celebration leading to my 50th Birthday. Thanks for the airplane Charlie, and thanks for showing others the way.

When I related this inspiring tale at work on Tuesday, Carmen opened her desk drawer and gave me a packet for a fizzy energy drink. It was her first Nickfest contribution.

Below is a picture of the airplane. Unfortunately, I mixed the fizzy drink and threw away the wrapper. Sorry about the lack of picture, Carmen, but your thoughfulness remains.

On an unrelated note, I have Gonzaga and Washington State winning their first two games in the NCAA tournament. Since I covered two dozen Top 25 games this season, that should pretty much guarantee victory.

Nickfest takes off, and so does this fine aircraft.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tennis Trauma

The woes of my tennis teams are piling up like hits to the website where Elliott Spitzer hired hookers.

Last Saturday, my 3.0 team was crushed 4-1 by the North Parker led by Alf Lismanis. That dropped our record to 2-2 and raised the possibility we will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1999. My partner Mark and I got the only victory. Kudos to Sonny Boy and Jeff Johnson for putting up a heroic fight as last-second additions to the team. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

On the 3.5 level, we were destroyed 5-0 by the superteam captained by Ed Seier. We won so few games that our set scores looked like the starting lineup of a women's basketball team: 6-0, 6-1, 6-2, etc. That leaves us 0-2, but confident that we won't play any team this good the rest of the season.

Best TV Shows Ever, Part II

Three other television shows from the 1960s that set eerie precedents for today also come to mind:

Get Smart: A documentary about the U.S. intelligence community that provides perhaps the clearest explanation of why our nation was led into Iraq on a search for weapons of mass destruction. It also explains why oil revenues have not paid for the war effort, and why we are still fighting a losing war. Missed it by that much.

Bewitched: This is the story of a man with a witch for a wife, a witch for a mother-in-law, a sleazy, slimy boss, and who can be replaced at any time by some other Dick and nobody notices. In other words, it is perhaps the most realistic show of all time.

The Beverly Hillbillies: An allegory about the rise of the Arab oil plutocracy (the Clampetts) and their attempts to violently impose their beliefs on our country (represented by Beverly Hills) with the aid of corrupt capitalists (Mr. Drysdale). Osama Bin Laden is foreshadowed by the character of Jethro Bodine, with Miss Jane standing in for the Bush family and its love of the Saudi royal family.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Best TV shows ever

I was thinking today of some of the favorite television shows of my childhood, and suddenly realized why I might be so messed up. Consider:

Petticoat Junction: A elderly madam and pimp (Uncle Joe) run a stable of Joe Ho's at the Shady Rest Motel. Betty Jo, Billie Jo and Bobby Jo attract customers by hanging their underwear from the water tower. This is a show young Elliott Spitzer also watched.

Family Affair: Bachelor engineer and his man ``servant'' live together in New York and suddenly acquire three chuildren. This was an early endorsement for gay marriage, with gay adoption thrown in! It led directly to Stonewall.

The Munsters: A veiled attempt by television to push for integrated neighborhoods. After all, who would mind a black or Mexican family moving in, if the alternative might be the Undead? Unfortunately, this prompted the urban riots of the late 1960s.

Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.: This was an effort to make the Vietnam draft more popular by showing Americans what an all-volunteer military would look like.

Green Acres: The hallucinogenic fantasies of a drug-addled New York City attorney who, off-screen, drops LSD after work each day and imagines an alternative life as a marijuana grower in the country. This show spawned the widespread recreational drug use of the 1970s that led directly to Americans paying $4 for coffee at Starbucks.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Year of Nickfest

Those of you who love me know that Sunday is my 49th birthday, a time to celebrate and reflect on all the good things I bring to your life.

Today is the beginning of a year of festivities leading up to my 50th birthday. This will be a time of escalating gifts and parties culminating in an epic celebration on March 9, 2009.

Lets call the whole thing Nickfest.

It's not too early to start planning. In fact, a key opportunity was lost last weekend, when we were out to dinner with friends and I suggested that someone pick up my tab as the ceremonial first act of Nickfest. No one did. People, we can't have to many of these letdowns.

Anyway, I foresee Nickfest as a moveable feast involving all manner of activities, played out in Spokane and on vacation at many tropical paradises. I'm going to suggest to my boss that my work assignments in the coming year involve Cancun, the Bahamas, Greece, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. And, of course, Las Vegas, without which it would hardly be worth turning 50.

We had a much smaller Nickfest a decade ago, when I turned 40. Family and friends gathered at my house for a weekend of modest activities and even more modest present-giving.

Lets make that Nickfest look like the first Super Bowl, and next year's be the latest Super Bowl.

``There's no reason this can't be the best Nickfest over. If we all just work together, I foresee great things.''

Tennis Nightmare

Absenteeism is wreaking havoc on my plans to make the USTA 3.0 playoffs for the 10th consecutive year.
Last week, we were down one guy and had to forfeit one match, but won three out of the four remaining matches to post a 3-2 win over the other team from our club. Your obedient correspondent came up huge with his partner Mark A, winning in two sets.
Last night, living on the edge did us in. For the third consecutive weekend, we were short a guy and had to forfeit one match, this time against a tough team from North Park.
Still, John G. easily won his singles, and John S. and Mark C. pulled out a heroic No. 3 doubles win from deep in the bowels of the club on Court A, where much of the movie ``Alien'' was filmed.
That left our No. 1 doubles team of Kevin and John W., or the No. 2 doubles team of Charlie and myself to get that one more win we needed for a 3-2 victory.
Alas, our No. 1 team got throttled. Then, with all of the players and entourages of both teams watching from the gallery, Charlie and I lost a 7-6, 7-6 nailbiter to give the match to the North Parkers.
Our effort was not helped when one of our female fans in the gallery tried to spur us on by hoisting up her shirt to reveal her (t-shirted) bosoms. As much as I generally encourage such behavior, it didn't help our concentration in a tie-breaker.
The loss dropped us to 2-1 on the season with 3 matches to go.
The bitter taste of defeat was washed away later by Mexican food and margaritas, but, like Khan in ``Star Trek, the Wrath of Khan,'' I will have my vengeance when we meet again.