Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The IU preview

As someone that's spent half my adult life in Indiana after going the University of Wisocnsin, I figured I'd give a little rundown for those of you unfamiliar with life and hoops in America's Dairyland. We drink a lot, we follow the Packers, watch other sports, play lots of euchre, create and read "the Onion", and for the three months we have good weather, do a lot of things associated with drinking outside with friends (inlcuding drinking numerous pitchers of local brews at our student Union). Since the Packers screwed the pooch and subjected the rest of the country to obnoxius Easterner talk for the Super Bowl, looks like we're down to drinking and watching other sports in the land of the Tundra. The temperature has dropped from 40 to -5 and -30 wind chills today, but it'll be up to a balmy 20 by the time the Hoosiers arrive. Which is great, as you can probably find Greg Stiemsma, Erin Andrews, Brent Musberger and Steve Lavin working on hooking up another muskie as they sit on a metal bucket for 2 hours with a line in the water. I prefer warming up with Capital Amber and Spotted Cow myself, but whatever finds you peace of mind.

My pregame recommendations include finding one of about 20 bars around the Kohl Center and warm yourself up before you make the hike over. Here is a quick Bloomington-to-Madison bar converter:

Bloomington - Madison
Nick's - State Street Brats
The Upstairs Pub- The Plaza
Kilroy's - The Kollege Klub
Kilroy's Sports- Brothers
Yogi's- The Nitty Gritty
Scotty's Brewhouse- The Great Dane
I'd have some comparison for UW's Paul's Club, but I can't think of an IU place with couches and trees in it.

And other than having a few more panhandling bums, no courthouse, and no car traffic, State Street may as well be Kirkwood. About the only difference is that we don't have the sweet candy-stripe warm-ups to sell at the local university gear shop, as we settle for striped overalls instead (why this isn't switched as a kind of exchange program is beyond me).

Of course, a major difference between IU and UW is the blindling paleness of the hair and skin of some of the Wisconsin players. UW features a Norse army of Brian Butch, Joe Krabbenhoft, Greg Stiemsma, Jason Bohannon, Kevin Gullikson, and possibly Thor as a walk-on. Combine the pallid complexion of many of the players and the tough team play Bo Ryan's teams are known for, it may get IU fans a bit nostalgic for the good old days (well, the old days preceding the Richard MAndeville era, anyway). While Butch has begun to take on the "Polar Bear" persona that Lavin takes care to remind us of approximately 29 times each UW game, he also can maneuver his face to look like one of the special kids from 4th grade when he gets fired up. Marcus Landry had a brother play down at Purdue last year, but he's come on to be a solid player worthy of Carl's name, and deserves props for the smooth James Worthy-style goggles he puts on. Landry's Worthy goggles and the UW student section's tie-dyed Grateful Red shirts also give UW a slight retro edge over DJ White's noble efforts to bring back the Ewing t-shirt.

But the key point is that this is a big one for both teams. UW is so hard to beat when Bo Ryan gets the crazed badger look going in the KC, so if IU can take it and go 7-0, they get the inside track for their first outright Big Ten title since Kurt Cobain and Bill Clinton were live, positive contributors to society. But if Bucky rides it home, the Big Ten goes up for grabs and it makes for a Big Ten February that should prove much more entertaining than the Eastern jag-bag fest that the Super Bowl is becoming. With MSU, OSU, UW, IU, and even Purdue at 6-2 or better, it could go back to an old-school "watch Martha the cleaning lady on Channel 4" -style of Big Ten year, culminating in a raucous Field House in March.

The Mellencamp albums are blaring (well, up till 1993), my words are getting about a half-second longer, and the angry arms-folded intense glare's coming on my face. Must be IU week. And I'll be there at the KC on Thursday night.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tundra still frozen

Kind of surprised I got over the Packer loss as quickly as I did. Suppose it had something to do with the fact that they were outplayed and that in the back of my mind I thought the season might be too good to be true. But it is funny how the media's trying to jump on that Giant "team of destiny" bandwagon. I figure they can keep doing so for another 11 days, when that idea gets shot to hell by halftime of XLII.

Late January means basketball season anyway. I saw Tom Oates writing an article belittling the Badgers for squeaking one out over Michigan to go to 6-0 in the Big Ten against a suspect schedule. I'm sorry Oatsie, but because college basketball is a legitimate sport and not the BCS, I don't care too much about your style points, particularly against a Michigan team that had Manny Harris going Teen Wolf from the outside for much of the game. Good teams fight through substandard efforts to pull out W's at home, and that's what Bucky did last night. As a former Indiana resident with lots to talk on with Boilers and Hoosiers, having huge games against Purdue and IU sure put some extra zest into the next few days. Big stretch in general for UW, as the roadies that follow the IU game are at Minnesota and Iowa, both of which are serious danger games.

Oh, and it's looking like 10 to 15 below air temperature tonight, which kind of kiboshes the karaoke possibilities. My range is limited enough, but cold, dry air really doesn't help the circumstance when I need to go falsetto.

Plus, it's not intelligent recession behavior if I go out 5 or 6 times in aweek (even though it can be fun...). By the way, federal deficit will end up being around $350 billion this year according to the CBO, once war funding and tax rebates are hammered. Folks, it's called the Laffer Curve because not only was the guy named Laffer, but also because it's one sick joke.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Tundra freezing

Projected high of 0 with wind chill around -25 to -30 for the Mad City tomorrow. This'll make for a nice brisk walk to the Kohl Center to see Bucky keep on track vs. Northwestern tomorrow. These Easterners all think 15 is a bitter cold snap- softies. I just hope it feels REALLY cold for a lot of them Sunday night, but that's no sure thing for the Pack.

Hell, it's almost as cold here as the stock market (now negative for the 7 years of the Bush Administration). But I thought negative real wages were OK as long as it controlled inflation and was "business-friendly". Hmm, you're saying that may not be true?

Heck with it, back to the groove of the (aptly named for this evening) Arctic Monkeys.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This is a blog?

This is all you need to start a blog? Guess I'll have one till they charge me for it. Stimulate that, Bernanke!