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Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: March 14-20 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dear Internet:

I have a cold. 

Your pal,

Jim

Okay - perhaps that's insufficient to satisfy my contractual obligation to provide you Issue 19 of The Tendown, your weekly look at the most important cultural happenings of the previous 7 days - but the fact is that I do have a cold, and that's going to mean a half assed job with this week's Tendown.  Unlike Last Week, when I discussed the Handsome Men's Club, Simple Jack comparing the Census to slavery, and found my new favorite phrase - The Rapture Generation.

But this week, this week I'm busted.  Busted, I tell you - busted like the very bestthing that happened over the past 7 days:

First: Cake v. Pie


After the first 7 games of the tournament Thursday, I got this text message alert from the NY Times:

NYT Men's NCAA Bracket:
Score: 52
Tourney Rank: 1
Sign up for groups @ ncaabracket.nytimes.com

That's first as in - my fun bracket was in first place in the NY Times pool halfway through the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament.  First.  First!  In the New York Times!  Everything's comin' up Milhouse!

Yeah, that's all gone now.  I had Kansas winning, so, thanks, Kansas. 

My brackets are officially thrown away. if I were more rugged, I could have used them as Kleenex.  That aside, the tournament now - with St Marys and Northern Iowa as officially minted Cinderellas - is wide open and far more interesting than even my most medicinal prognostication would have anticipated. 

But the busting of those brackets should not close our eyes to the limitless other bracket possibilites that the interwebs brought us this week - in fact, it's one of those Cake v. Pie which wins the crown as the best thing that happened over the past 7 days.  Let's play the game!



Birthday faces a nice contrast in styles in the 2nd round against Pound; that's like a Kentucky/Cornell game; Birthday is loaded with flashy highly recruited marquee athletes but Pound is small and white and fundamentally sound. So compact and scrappy is Pound - gritty and gutty - with veteran ingredients who just want it so badly!  Birthday goes over, pulling away late after a nip and tuck first half.  I'm going to take Carrot as the Cinderella coming out of its region, knocking off ICC in the second and doing it with surprising ease - then riding that wave in taking out Wedding, which benefited by a few terrible officials calls in defeating Red Velvet.  

In the pie bracket - Apple and Pumpkin make their way cleanly to their Elite 8 Match; silky smooth like a George Gervin finger roll, Pumpkin just can't miss from the field in that one, shooting 67% from the floor to earn a Final Four spot - but there - there it has to face an underseeded Juggernaut - Cheesecake - sort of like a Hakeem Olajuwon with dual citizenship - the taxonomic classification of cheesecake as not cake but custard pie creates one of the great second round matchups in tournament history - Cheesecake v. Cherry - Cheesecake v. Cherry, to use the language of wrestling, could be a main event in any promotion in the world - it's like if we got Phi Slamma Jamma against Hoya Paranoia in the second round of the '84 tourney - a half dozen blocked shots, a near brawl, Sleepy Floyd going coast-to-coast!  Cherry is up by eleven at the half, but a canny substitution by Cheesecake...

...putting in Cherry Cheesecake....

 Leads to a torrent of thunderdunks - including the shattering of a backboard (Send It In Jerome!) that rains delicious graham cracker crust along press row.  

That leaves us a Final Four for the Ages:  

1. Birthday v. 7. Carrot
2. Cheesecake v. 4. Pumpkin

Birthday's an overwhelming favorite, giving a dozen points at the closing line - but Carrot has two tide turning factors leading to one of the great semi-final upsets in sports history, included in the same conversation with the US beating the USSR in the '80 Olympic hockey semi-finals (Do you believe in Cream Cheese Frosting?  Yes!) the first is that in 2009, my birthday cake was a carrot cake - and that type of versatility (Look, Carrot can run up and down the floor with Birthday! - Carrot can play Birthday's style!) caught the overconfident Birthday flat-footed.  The second - and the factor that really wins the game down the stretch - is you have to share Birthday cake.  Most birthday cakes are consumed after someone has spit all over them after blowing out candles - then you have to hustle for a piece - and while there are presents - really it's commemoration of being a year closer to death.  If you think about it; celebrating birthdays is macabre; hey, let's gather around and sing: 

Happy Birthday to you
 Your Life Will End Soon,
Everyone in the Graveyard,
 Had a Birthday Party Too

Who needs that pressure?  I can huddle alone, in the dark, with my huge slab of carrot cake and watch my Will&Grace reruns and not bother anyone.  

Carrot wins - they go the final - where they meet Cheesecake, which solidly handled Pumpkin - can Carrot - which took out heavily favored Wedding and Birthday keep the glass slipper on against the monstrous Cheesecake?  

Yeah, no.  Cheesecake dominates from the opening tip - it's a coronation.  

Your winner in the great Cake v. Pie Tournament - Cheesecake.

After the jump - the rest of the Tendown

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