Jingle Jangled

Here’s the Educated, Middle-Aged Concerned Citizen, seeing another country and its troubled, yet pleasant people. What is he thinking as he walks along the crowded streets? How does he correlate what he sees with his experience of the so-called “developed world”, and the perspective gained through his study of education, human psychology, literature and yet more sacred texts? What’s on his mind? Let’s listen in!

Early in the mornin’, come along!
Listen to the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes song!
Catch a bowl of sunshine, here’s how you do it,
Whistle up an appetite and hop right to it!

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The Dulling of One Shining NCAA Moment

It’s possible, just possible, that I may be growing up. (And I’m not sure I like it.) Maybe it’s because I was by myself. I hadn’t loaded up well on munchies. The couch was a bit substandard, as was the amount of suspense – it was over before it was over. But I think it’s mostly me. I didn’t enjoy the NCAA final, the April dénouement to a March of Madness, like I used to in the good ol’ days…

…when Duke or UCLA won…
…when I loved Billy Donovan as a player (before disliking him as a coach)…
…when Billy Packer seemed to offer actual insights into the game…
…when players celebrated a good play with their teammates rather than by themselves, hoping for face-time and 15 seconds of micro-fame…
…and maybe, just maybe, before my extended adolescence finished its 20-year run.

It’s getting harder and harder to stand the commercials. (Especially when Coach K is prostituting his coaching art to hawk cars. Coach, how do you talk about leadership and trust to players who can finish the spiel for you? Absolutely, Coach. That’s why Chevy is the best-selling brand in America!) Except for sport, I don’t watch much network or cable TV, so the firestorm of selling sneaks up on me at times. I suppose, television being one of my most fertile plots of pessimism, that we’re not going to have fewer commercials. But surely the NCAA could reconsider whether teams should have the same number of timeouts available when there’s one coming every four minutes of PT anyway! The live experience of a nationally televised game must be numbing. (It must be like watching an NBA game, with lower sideline production values.) Two thirty-second timeouts per game, one full TO for the last two minutes. Other ‘n that, coaches, you’re at the mercy of the network! (Aren’t we all?)

I’m also finding it harder to ignore the “student-athlete” hypocrisy. Joakim Noah actually mentioned studying in a post-game interview, and my eyes brightened. Wow! You don’t hear that often! I was obviously grasping at an idealistic straw, since he was saying he wouldn’t be doing any. (Still, doesn’t that imply that he does sometimes? See the good, buddy. See the good.) It’s getting harder to enjoy Dick Enberg’s truncated and oddly desperate halftime essay. (Was it your heart that wasn’t in it, Dick, or was it mine?) Stubborn loyalist (doomed addict) that I am, I stayed glued right through the traditional tournament summary “One Shining Moment”, though its clichéd collection of super-hyped images and sentimental pop hasn’t moved me in years. I was hoping.

(See the good.) But at least until the game was over and the microphones came out, it was very hard not to like Joakim Noah. He’s one of the most gifted, interesting and intelligent players I’ve seen in a long time. I hope he and his buddies stick around for another year. I hope UCLA’s guard duo, Farmar and Afflalo, does the same. Come next March, God help me, I’ll almost certainly be watching again.