Bracketology, Samís back and National Ted Day

by Ted Holteen

With March Madness right around the corner (by the way, have I mentioned that I conduct a friendly survey of just who might win that thing each year?), Vegas sharks, housewives and heads of state will soon have to again weigh the relative merits of the Saint Louis Billikens and whether or not they can knock off a 4-seed. But as I say, that's in March. Closer to home, our very own Durango High School Demons are making their own run at the Final Four, and they get to start at home for the first time ever (I think, but either way it's pretty cool). This weekend, the Demons Boys' team will host the first round of the state 5A basketball playoffs, which whether you believe me or not, is a big deal. The second-seeded Demons will have a bye, so they can watch the first round games Feb. 24 and have two days to prepare for their opponent Feb. 26. High school basketball tournaments are fun, and Tim Fitzpatrick has turned DHS into a perennial power with back-to-back conference championships that have resulted in this whole, big deal thing. Home court is a rare advantage come playoff time, so go help the kids out and make life a living hell for the visiting teams.

But brackets aren't limited to the hardwood. On Sunday, Purgatory or DMR or whatever, welcomes the Southwest Freestyle Tour. It's a kid's thing (ages 6-16), but as I was about to write it off as such, I remembered that my best skiing was probably done in my teens. So expect some good stuff. It's a confederation of fearless youth from here, Telluride and Taos who will compete in dual moguls against each other or any kid who wants to sign up to give 'em a run. They make five runs in a round robin and the best record wins. I'll be running a high-dollar pool for the competition as well - betting on kids' sports is better than a dog track or a cockfight.

Registration for Sunday's races begins at 8:30 a.m. at Hoody's and the races start at 10:15 a.m. And there are discounted lift tickets for parents as well, so you don't really have a good excuse to just drop the kids off and hit the bar for the day. Not that there's anything wrong with that, either, and who needs a good excuse to observe the Sabbath in a bar anyway?

You also have a chance to meet and greet and scout the competition on Saturday at Hesperus, when the little lunatics will compete in the first Cowpie Cup, the actual details of which will be worked out as the event progresses. That starts at 4:30 p.m., and there's going to be lots of Hesperus chili and booze to keep parents and guardians warm under the night lights.

Some things never change, and often that can be a good thing. Once a year or so, Sam Bush rolls through town like an old friend checking in and catching up on things. He's back at the Concert Hall on Saturday night, which is quickly becoming his own little Durango home on the road. The Spotlight Lounge will open at 6 p.m., a full 90 minutes before show time, so unlike past years, concertgoers won't have to slam a pint of Jim Beam in the parking lot before coming in. What an age to be alive.

One of the myriad criticisms of John Kerry's Adlai Stevenson-like lurching stumble at the presidency last fall was his refusal to actually confront the fuhrer's environmental policies, lest he upset his own gravy train while posing as a legitimate candidate. An adroitly buried issue in the early years of Dubya's regime, his drooling lust to drill for oil in the pristine Arcatic National Wildlife Refuge is again being addressed by some people who actually think that preserving the earth is at least as important as regulating gay marriage and sodomy. In short, the chosen one feels that it's a worthy sacrifice to undo millions of years of geologic splendor to get at some oil that might supply the infrastructure of Lubbock, Texas, for about 40 years. God, I hate him. People of Conscience (that's an actual organization, not just a description) will host a fund-raiser at the Abbey Theatre on Sunday featuring the film documentary, "Oil on Ice," about the Artic drilling fiasco, and also have a panel discussion about oil and gas drilling issues here in the Four Corners. Show times for the film are at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m., with the panel discussion at 5 p.m. Don't be shy - the world needs more eco-terrorists.

Finally, plan your errands accordingly, because schools and government offices will shut down Monday as the nation remembers Feb. 28, 1968 (or 29th, I've never been sure. But the 28th this year, anyway) with fanfare usually reserved for celebrity funerals and reality television. Yes, it's as close to a birthday as I'll get for about three years, and you can help celebrate it by making donations directly to one of my employers. From Monday through Friday of next week, it's again time to ante up for your public radio station, KSUT. We'll be on the air badgering you anyway, so you might as well just buck up and get it over with. And you could even be the lucky winner of a trip to New Orleans for Jazz & Heritage weekend in April if it makes you feel any better about having to pay for radio that's "free" anyway. Call it a raffle ticket. 563-0255 - we'd love to hear from you.

Ask me why I'm so damned happy. Did I mention the March Madness thing?



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