Musings, Nits, and Praises: March 2006

Musings, Nits, and Praises

A farrago of all things deemed blog-worthy by a music-loving, poetry-writing, humor-seeking English teacher

The Weight of Responsibility

"With great power comes great responsibility." -- Uncle Ben to Peter Parker in Spiderman

Uncle Ben forgot to add that unless you're a superhero, "with great responsibility comes great weight."
When I was single, I noticed that whenever one of my friends got married, he'd not only gain a wife but a spare tire or gut as well. Well, over the past year--nine months of which I've been married--I've tacked on around twelve pounds.

But I don't think it's matrimony that increases one's girth; it's responsibility. For example, I managed to avoid the "freshman fifteen" phenomenon in college. Beginning college poses a daunting transition for some people, but I had always been rather assiduous, so I never felt overwhelmed by the new responsibility. Also, by getting a lot of gen ed classes out of the way, I didn't spend much time studying that year. I had plenty of time for physical activity. Conversely, I trudged through my senior year under the burden of senior symposium, student teaching, Spring Sing directing, and job searching all of which led to sleep deprivation, poor eating, and little exercise. By the end of the year, I'd tacked on close to ten pounds.

I managed to trim down that summer only to head back down the Pillsbury Doughboy route my first year of teaching. (At times the first year of teaching is tantamount to being beaten repeatedly with a tube sock full of quarters then dropped in a ditch.) Following the school year, I took up running and got back to my svelt old self. For the next three years I more or less maintained the same weight. I grew comfortable teaching, continued running fairly regularly, played basketball, etc. Even once Janet and I got engaged, I still remained active.

Then I got married, and pudge reacquainted itself with my waisteline. I don't think many guys think to themselves, "Well, now that I'm married, I guess it's time to be a fatty!" It just happens. By the time you get home from work and eat dinner (which is generally a real meal now rather than a pack of Raman noodles or a few slices of cheese), you just want to enjoy the time with your wife, not work out. (It's a good thing we don't have kids. I may have put on twenty pounds by now.)

But faced with impending fatness, I've decided it's time to get off my widening behind and do something about it! Since returning from spring break, I've run seven times, going anywhere from three and a half to six miles. I'm also making a better effort to eliminate junk from my diet. Ultimately, I'm not aiming to sculpt a redoubtable physique. I just want to shred the girth I've gained and stay fit.

Rasputin Finally Dies!

Thanks to George Mason for fulfilling my "anybody but UConn" wish.

My Eyes!

My vision is slowly returning after watching one of the worst basketball games I can recall--UCLA v. Memphis. I felt sorry for the people who paid for tickets to watch it. The score, 50-45, was the lowest scoring game in a regional final since the institution of the shot clock.

UCLA has a pretty stingy defense, but Memphis' atrocious play was mostly their own doing. They had plenty of open shots; they just couldn't make any. Part of the problem stems from their glorified streetball-style offense. With that style of play, finding a rhythm on offense in a methodical, halfcourt game is next to impossible.

Despite going 2-17 from three-point range and shooting 31% overall in the game, Memphis managed to keep the game close because UCLA stunk up the joint as well--20-39 from FT, 35% FG.

Of course, UCLA and their fans won't care because a win is a win is a win. For the rest of us, look out for the LSU/UCLA matchup next week; the final score may be 6-4.

Busted Bracket?

Last night I lost half of my Final Four picks with WVU's tough loss and Gonzaga's choke. Tonight, after Boston College racked up dumb turnovers at a Maryland-like pace and went 8-17 from the foul line, I was down to UConn. I picked UConn to win the National Championship because they have the best players and every now and then play like a great team. However, on my "College Hoops Disdain Chart" they're about a 7. They don't evoke the ire that Duke does, but in most games I root against them. (I haven't always disliked them. I liked them well enough during the Tate George years and even in the Richard Hamilton years. It's their recent teams that bug me, particularly this year's squad--a group of hot dogs led by a laptop swiping point guard.) So when Washington started the game with a full head of steam, I had no qualms abandoning my bracket and rooting for UW.

Unfortunately, UW's boneheaded plays at the end of regulation and OT coupled with some of the absolutely worst officiating I've ever seen allowed UConn to stumble on to the Elite Eight.

Boneheaded Play #1 -- Up four with eleven seconds in the game, UW's center fouls Marcus Williams going in for a layup, leading to a three-point play. Just concede the basket, you idiot! Maybe repeatedly bleaching his hair caused brain damage.

Boneheaded Play #2 -- Up three with nine seconds to play, Lorenzo Romar elects to just play straight up D rather than fouling UConn just as they cross half court, with say five seconds left, and forcing them to hit two FT's, which would still leave them trailing. Instead, Rashad Anderson (a.k.a. "The Dagger") hits a game-tying three. Kudos to Anderson; he did play quite well.

Boneheaded Play #3 -- Appleby deciding not to put up a shot after a great steal in OT, only to throw the ball away on a cross-court pass.

However, even with these plays, UW still would've won the game rather comfortably if the refs hadn't been an embarassment to their profession. For starters, UConn shot 47 FT's to UW's 23. Now, I realize that sometimes FT discrepancies like that indicate that one team was more aggressive than the other, but that was certainly not the case tonight. I don't have the time or energy to list the myriad of poor calls (or no calls) the refs made, but a few of the worst were the foul and the technical foul on Roy (neither he nor Gay really merited a T), the obvious goaltending call in OT that would've put UW up one, and the foul on Dentmon when Williams fell down without Dentmon so much as breathing on him.

So, despite picking UConn to win the tournament, my mantra from now until the end of the tourney will be "anybody but UConn."

The Madness Continues

What a night of basketball! With Maryland absent from the NCAA's again this year, a Duke loss was basically my next best rooting interest. Thank you, LSU. Unfortunately, I'll still have to see The Anteater at least ten times a game in his stupid Chevy commercials. I can live with that, though.

As much as I disdain Duke, I did feel a little pang of sympathy for J.J. Redick. I dislike all Duke players by default, but he seems like a nice enough guy, and he's certainly an excellent player. I never like seeing a good player end his career with a subpar performance. By him playing poorly, it just provides more fodder for Duke haters to harp about how he's overrated, how he will be an NBA bust, etc. Even if he does wind up being a poor NBA player (I doubt he'll stink. I think he'll fill a speciality role like Steve Kerr or maybe develop into a crafty player like Jeff Hornacek), only an idiot would try to discount his college career.

Did I just defend a Duke player? I definitely need some sleep.

Speaking of players that will be fodder for the derision of message board morons, how about Adam Morrison? Although I suspect J.A. did a rapid fire air punch (think Jordan after his winning shot over Craig Ehlo to beat the Cavs in the playoffs) when Gonzaga lost--I nearly did the same thing when Duke lost--I felt bad for Gonzaga and Morrison in particular. (By the way, J.A., I wasn't including you inthe message board morons lot.) Yes, he's a trashtalker and he resembles Christiane Amanpour, but he's a heck of a basketball player. When CBS coverage switched to the Gonzaga game following UT's dramatic win (as an Austin resident and spouse of a UT grad, I'm suppposed to be excited about the victory, but I have to admit I wanted WVU to win--I love their style of basketball--too bad they rebound like junior high girls), it looked like Gonzaga was still a lock to win the game despite letting UCLA chip into their 17-point lead. Blowing a nine-point lead in three minutes, culminating with an utterly boneheaded TO by Batista, a TO by Raivio, and a brick by Batista, was almost as pitiful as Arizona blowing a 14-point lead in the closing minutes against Illinois last year. The ESPN message boards are abuzz with folks lambasting Morrison for crying after the game (actually started when UCLA took the lead), saying real men don't cry when they lose, he's not fit emotionally for the NBA, etc. If I'd have been in his shoes, I can't say I wouldn't have cried. Part of what makes college baketball superior to the NBA is that all the players actually care. Was he a bit overboard? Probably. But I won't fault a guy for being emotionally spent when his team has just blown a game like that. If it had been Maryland instead of Gonzaga, I might've teared up watching the game in my living room--after I'd hurled a string of expletives and thrown something, of course.

Hopefully tomorrow's games will be even half as exciting as tonight's.

Good night.

Spring Break

I've been remiss to post anything this week as Janet and I have been visiting Chris and Catherine Mirante (and kids) in Red Banks, MS. The past two Spring Breaks I helped sponsor school trips--senior class trip to Scotland and England in '04 and 8th grade trip to D.C. in '05. Although I enjoyed those trips, it's nice to reinstate my time-honored March Madness routine:

1) Get out of bed around 10:00
2) Eat breakfast
3) Shower and throw on a T-shirt and shorts (normally I wear a Terps shirt, but it doesn't seem right this year)
4) Grab a sandwich, a Pepsi, and snacks and settle on the couch for five hours of basketball
5) Move around the house or run errands in order to maintain blood flow
6) Eat dinner
7) Return to my couch around 6:30 for another five hours of basketball

I actually have managed to be somewhat productive this week, though. Janet and I may be moving to the Memphis area next year (long story for another blog), so I interviewed at Harding Academy for an opening in their high school English department. Janet has interviewed with one school and has found two others with openings for P.E. If all goes well, we'll know by mid-April whether or not we're moving.

Well, it's just about time for #6 on my list.

God bless.

March Madness

As a college basketball nut, I believe the next three weeks are the finest in all of sports. From watching championship games from conferences I've never heard of, to filling out my NCAA brackets and celebrating my underdog picks winning a few games, I absolutely love it. In fact, if I could take off work for the entire month of March, I would. Of course, I'd be even more excited now if my beloved Terps weren't trying to claw their way to the proverbial bubble, but alas. (Depending on how the conference tournaments turn out, the Terps may be able to squeeze in the NCAA Tourney with a win over Georgia Tech; however, it's more likely they'd need to beat Boston College as well.)

Did anyone watch the Gonzaga v. Loyola Marymount game last night? A few questions arose in my mind while watching the game:

1. How does a 6'10'' guy miss a layup to win the game?

2. Has it really been sixteen years since LM last made the NCAA Tourney? (You remember, don't you-- the run and gun team lead by Bo Kimble, inspired by the death of Hank Gathers?)

3. Is there a dorkier man alive than Joe Lunardi?

4. Is Adam Morrison actually a clone of Glen Frey from the Hotel California period?
(Incidentally, Dan Patrick said on his radio show that he thinks Morrison looks like CNN's Christine Amanpour (sp) with a mustache.)

5. Has a team ranked in the AP Top 5 (Gonzaga) ever had some many nail-biter wins against lousy opponents?

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