Bracket Distractions — Arts and Business and Politics

It’s always good to have some friends who don’t pay attention to the same things you do — it offers perspective. What’s important to you (whether U of  L will be a #2 seed or #3 seed in the NCAA bracket) is like speaking a foreign language, I’m guessing, to someone like Les Waters, the artistic director at Actors’ Theatre and my guest on the Rusty Satellite Show this week.

LISTEN TO THE RUSTY SATELLITE SHOW HERE

 

On the other hand, I suspect that my other guest, El Toro exec Stacy Griggs, can probably tell you how many points Russ Smith got (42) against Houston in the AAC Tournament. I asked neither Les or Stacy about basketball, so I’m guessing here. We all seem to know a lot about something, which is what makes finding guests for the Rusty show kinda fun.

When I was the editor of the NCAA Basketball Championship game programs, for instance, I knew the names of the head coaches and the nicknames of every Division I team. When I was syndicating a TV show to stations across the country, I knew the call letters and network affiliation of every station in the U.S.  At WKU 30 years ago, I learned a lot about constellations (those 3 stars in a row are Orion’s belt). There are a lot of experts on college basketball, or at least you would think so, if you listen to local talk radio or watch ESPN.

But being able to talk with authority about the Blue Jays (Creighton) and Shockers (Wichita State, the only unbeaten team going into the tourney) won’t help you fill out your brackets with accuracy. That’s what makes it fun.  Remember that you are as likely to pick a 14 seed upsetting a 3 seed as Digger Phelps. And none of those so-called experts will pick a perfect bracket (even with a billion dollars on the line).

I know that memorizing lists of trivial knowledge is great for impressing folks at cocktail parties. That’s because I used to recite Kentucky Derby winners that I memorized by studying Derby glasses. Attorney general Jack Conway knows the same trick.

Which is all to say that even though a LOT of people are focused today on the NCAA Final Four tournament field, I know several who wouldn’t recognize Rick Pitino if they saw him in line at a drug store (which I’ve done, btw).

I am among those interested in the tournament, though, and will be running a bracket contest at work, like a lot you will be. And having watched Pitino’s team all season, I don’t see the Cards losing short of the Final Four. It may be the most fun-to-watch group ever assembled around here, or anywhere. After winning the AAC title, Pitino told a TV audience he thinks his team should be a #1 seed, and the world of basketball watchers learned a new term — Pitino and the pundits now love saying the Cards passed the “eye test” (C-J headline: “Pitino’s pupils should pass NCAA eye test”).

Next Thursday and Friday, when U of L and UK will play their first-round games, Louisville viewers will find ways to tune in and make our city #1 in the country — for TV sets tuned to hoops. Office productivity will hit a low that won’t be matched until Oaks Day, and you’ll still have hope that you can win that office bracket pool, even if you had Arizona going all the way and they lose to Siena.

I’m rambling, I know, perhaps thinking of Dave Barry’s appearance at the Library Wednesday night. But here are the top stories, outside of basketball, discussed on the Rusty show this week:

Omni Hotel Downtown — The Omni could transform downtown, and is reason for optimism — bringing a long-needed grocery downtown along with the luxury rooms and apartments. The downside — a key player is the Cordish Cos., which was central to a huge scandal over a loan from the city at Fourth Street Live! a few years back. The block – between 2nd and 3rd and Ali and Liberty — was once talked about as the ideal place for what became the Yum! Center. Let’s credit Mayor Fischer (for now) for bringing it all together.

Among other things state lawmakers won’t accomplish is a smoking ban —  the list of ideas that aren’t getting done include casino gambling, local option sales tax, hemp, and marijuana legalization. The state session has produced plenty of talk about guns in bars, guns in schools, abortion restrictions and whether Kentucky students should be taught science or creationism.

Republicans Courting African-Americans — I’d compare Kentucky Republicans courting votes in the West End to sending Obama supporters to Leslie County in the eastern Kentucky coalfields. (Obama got 8.75% of the 2012 vote there). But Rand Paul’s support of voting rights for convicted felons and other key issues important to African-Americans could sway some votes there.

For next week — Former Rusty guest and C-J editor Neil Budde would be glad to know I took the paper up on a limited-time-free offer and read three stories making news this week — Joe Gerth’s column correctly points out that Jack Conway is not required by law to appeal that same-sex marriage ruling, and he blasts (without saying his name) WDRB’s Bill Lamb for “huffing” about it. U of L’s administration has taken to paying off former employees with lavish, and undeserved, payoffs simply to keep their mouths shut. And a special report reveals that Kentucky’s drug abuse problem, as it relates to babies being born addicted to drugs, is exploding. Few in our city will find sympathy for the two women profiled in Laura Ungar’s piece — both pregnant with multiple children born with their mothers’ addictions.

Let’s watch some hoops!

 

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