Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Random Notes

  • The annual fantasy baseball draft was last Saturday. Last year I picked first and finished last. This year I picked close to last, so we'll see if that improves my success any. In a 16-team league, I drafted 14th. My first five picks were Vladimir Guerrero, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Garrett Atkins, and John Smoltz. I also took a flyer on Barry Bonds staying out of prison in the 11th.
  • Something I'm seeing more of these days: the gal (it always seems to be a woman) smoking a cigarette in her car who wants the smoke to go out the window but also wants the benefit of air conditioning. To accomplish this, she cracks the window open, oh, about a micron wider than the actual width of the cigarrette itself. She then, after each puff, carefully tries to stick the burning butt out the tiny window opening and hold it there--all while driving. That's a move I always enjoy. If you ask me, all these problems started with the 19th amendment...
  • I've still never seen "American Idol." But I read the papers, and so I'm confident enough to form the opinion that this kid needs to be taken out and beaten:
  • This has already made the rounds, but if you haven't yet seen it, you must watch "The Great Global Warming Swindle" that aired on British television last month. My favorite part is when the former head of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, describes realizing that his own environmental movement was in deep trouble when they began talking about banning chlorine worldwide. He says he told them, "You guys, this is one of the elements in the Periodic Table, you know. I mean, I'm not sure if that's in our jurisdiction to be banning a whole element."
  • A friend also pointed me to a Michael Crichton speech from a couple of years ago that's a wonderful (and necessary) read: "Aliens Cause Global Warming."
  • Again I'm late to the ball on this, but earlier in the month one of my heroes, John Piper, wrote about the death of his father a few days earlier. It's monumentally good: "Hello, My Father Just Died."

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Friday, March 23, 2007

March Miracle

In 1987, I left home for Butler University in Indianapolis for my freshman year of college. They had an excellent broadcasting program (which was my interest), and a beautiful, semi-urban campus. It was not, however, a pleasant year. I was homesick and lonely, and wound up transferring as a sophomore to the University of Missouri-Columbia where I already had lots of old friends from high school (thus beginning my attendance at what became a truly breathtaking succession of colleges and universities).

During that difficult 87-88 school year, one of my lifelines was Butler Bulldog basketball. My roommate and I, and the two guys across the hall [I wish I'd kept up with all of them; they were good guys, and impossible to find now. My roommate's name was Pete Smith. That should narrow it down to a few million...] had season tickets and went to every game, where we were part of an average crowd of about 500. It was so sparse at the games that we broadcasting majors could just stroll in and plop down courtside and "broadcast" the games into a tape recorder for practice if we wanted--no press pass or clearance necessary.

The Bulldogs played (and still play) in this incredible old-time field house where the championship scene of the movie "Hoosiers" was shot the year before I got there. To this day, it's the greatest place I've ever watched a basketball game. When the team wasn't using it for a game or practice, we'd sometimes play late-afternoon pickup games right on that court; it was open to everybody.

The season I was there, I think Butler finished something like 14-14 playing teams like Wabash, Valparaiso, and Indiana State. I remember one night watching ESPN with my friends (our dorm had just been wired for cable) and getting really excited that they actually mentioned the score for the game we'd just attended. It kind of felt like it might feel if you played ping pong in your basement one evening and later saw Dan Patrick give the score on the air.

That's why it's particularly thrilling for me to see the Butler Bulldogs in the NCAA Sweet 16 this year. It's nearly incomprehensible that the team I was once excited to merely see play against Xavier ("Wow, we're playing Xavier!"--who pasted us, incidentally) has been consistently ranked in the top 20 this season and is now among the top 1/4 of teams in college basketball's Big Dance. They play the defending champion Florida Gators tonight, and it would take a minor miracle for them to advance any further. But the major miracle has already occurred--the Butler University Bulldogs are a college basketball power. A minor miracle shouldn't be anything next to that.

Incidentally, during the year I was at Butler, one of the basketball players sat in front of me in music appreciation class. Butler was a school of maybe 3000-4000 people, so many of the classes were pretty small--25 to 30 people at the most. You got acquainted with the people in your classes. He was probably only the third or fourth best player on a mediocre basketball team, but I always remembered him because he was a nice guy and his name sounded odd to me. That player also happens to be participating in the NCAA tournament this year. As it turns out, his playing career was merely a stepping stone into the coaching ranks. Thad Matta is now the head coach of the first-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes, which just advanced to the Elite Eight last night.

I visited Indianapolis last year on a business trip. I dropped by the Butler campus for the first time in more than 15 years and wandered around. It had changed some, but not much. I trekked around in my old dorm (where everybody looked about the same as I remembered except for one graying old guy--namely, me) and revisited campus haunts. The pain of that freshman year has now largely been replaced by affection and nostalgia. I have two teams to root hard for among the 12 remaining. And if either one of them gets to the Final Four, I have an old Butler sweatshirt in the closet waiting to be put on.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Truth Is Out There

Last week, I was invited to appear on the Richard Syrett Show on CFRB radio in Toronto to talk about a television documentary I helped produce last year called Darwin's Deadly Legacy.

Richard, who is described as "Canada's Art Bell," was extraordinarily nice and I had a great time on the show. We even got to take some listener phone calls. If you're interested, you can now hear it here in Real Audio in the program's audio archive. (Just scroll down the page to Tuesday, March 14th.)

I was followed in the second hour of the program by a Registered Hypnotic Anesthesiologist talking about alien implants.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Death Of A Showman

Today brings the sad news of the death of one of entertainment's greats: Larry "Bud" Melman. Larry became a star on NBC's "Late Night With David Letterman" in the early 80's (in fact, his was the first face ever seen on the program--he opened the inaugural show with a warning that NBC was airing it without having first reckoned with God), and moved over to CBS with Dave in 1993 (where he had to revert to using his real name, Calvert DeForest, because NBC claimed--get this--that the name Larry "Bud" Melman was the company's "intellectual property").

As a result of his exposure on Letterman, Larry become a pop-culture icon, appearing in everything from movies to long-distance commercials to a Run-DMC music video. So put on a pair of huge eyeglasses and have some Toast-On-A-Stick tonight in memory of Larry "Bud" Melman.

(And where else have you seen this breaking story today? This, people, is why you need me.)

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Must've Slept Through The Alarm

It's been a while since I posted, and I hesitate to make mention of it since I am renowned for hating blogging about blogging (and for mercilessly ridiculing those who do it). But since I've received some kind emails from folks concerned that perhaps I could be trapped under something heavy, a word or two about the absence is in order. There have been two causes for my lengthy absence:

1). I was knee-deep in a work project that consumed most of the month of March.

2). I didn't have a single thing pop into my head worth writing about.

However, number 1 has now ended, and I've come to the realization that number 2 has never once stopped me before. So as we enter our fifth year (!) here at Rabe Ramblings, I hope to return to the same kind of blogging you've come to know me for.

Which ought to be a real disappointment for all of us.

(Incidentally, I've avoided switching to the new Blogger because I figured if I did, it would irretrevably screw up my template. Today, the thing basically forced me to switch when I logged in. And my template is now busted all heck. So I've had to get a new one. By the end of the day, I may have accidentally erased everything; we'll see what happens.)