Less than a week ago around here, schools were closed and cars were sliding off roads and we were all hunkered down for about the third or fourth time that ice and snow had come to the South this year. Today, however, when you step outside in the sunshine and the semi-warm breeze, I swear you can hear the flowers growing and the tree branches starting to bud. Or I would hear flowers growing if I actually had planted any in our yard. While Southerners love spring and its reinvigorating warmth and gentle unfurlings of fresh color, the season’s arrival exposes pathetic non-gardeners such as me who can hide their lack of green-thumb talent behind winter’s freezing temperatures. I’m perfectly content to spend January and February and even March curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace and watching basketball on TV. But once March Madness kicks in, the gardening guilt follows close behind: When everybody else is energetically outside, enthusiastically wielding seed packages, trowels and watering cans, it’s difficult to justify lounging around in your jammies. So, while I certainly don’t want anybody to get hurt and everybody is oh-so-tired of snow days and school closings, I wouldn’t mind a little more winter before spring arrives for good. I’m not ready to give up lazy weekend afternoons wrapped up in my cozy blankie and yelling at the TV screen, “What are you talking about? That was NOT a foul! Check your eyes, ref!”
Oh, my cookies (as almost-2-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable says with his precious little Capt. Adorable-grin) — I love Bracket Time!!! When NCAA men’s college hoops action starts, I am glued to the TV. I mean, I’m even okay with Survivor being preempted — and you know how sacred I hold my weekly Survivor-watching. Not jumping on the Bracket bandwagon? Not sure what all the fuss is about? I know — I sort of feel that way about all those football bowl games. But read this article by Sports Illustrated writer Michael Rosenberg and you might give it a try: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/michael_rosenberg/03/17/ncaa.tournament. And then click on over to my weekly newspaper column at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100319/ARTICLES/3195000 for why I choose basketball over football, every time. (And you know I have to say that very quietly since Alabama is pretty much totally football country and basketball is what you do to fill the time until spring practice starts.)
And while you’re clicking, I want you to go here — http://goop.com/newsletter/74/en/. But first let me explain, because you’re right that GOOP is the much-maligned newsletter sent out by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. As much as I loved her in one of my all-time favorite movies — The Royal Tenenbaums — her newsletter makes me cringe and laugh and spit out my coffee all at the same time. She writes — and I assume it’s actually her doing the writing — as if we all can hop jets and fly over to London for some bargain shopping or we all have famous friends who can give fashion and entertaining advice or as if we all have the time to Gaze Out At Nature and Contemplate Life. Sigh. Maybe I’m just jealous. Because, as Liz Lemon says, “I want to go there.” But this one time, GOOP gets it right. Apparently Gwyneth recently spent some time in Nashville, Tennessee, and the latest “Go” edition of the newsletter has some great food and music suggestions and some lovely things to say about my fellow Tennesseans. For the most part, she eschews the patently tacky tourist places and sends you to authentic Nashville — including the patently tacky tourist places that make Nashville what it is. Go to Nashville. Gwyneth and I both insist.
Getting ready to watch the NCAA men’s basketball championship game tonight? Read my husband’s column in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal today, “Wild Times in SEC Hoops” at http://nems360.com/pages/news_sports, so that during commercial breaks and timeouts you can intelligently discuss 1) the state of Southeastern Confernce basketball, 2) why “strength of schedule” is important and 3) what Kentucky’s new hire means for next season. Or you can get up to get more beer. Your choice.
It’s that time of year when we all sharpen our pencils and start filling out brackets in anticipation of some intense and tightly played competition. And we immediately start to question: Are the No. 1 seeds worthy? Can the lower seeds work their way up? How much influence does “body of work” and “strength of schedule” have in the placements? And can we mere observers accurately predict the outcomes of these contests? The stories will unfold in the next several days as fashionista-watchers root for (4) Madonna vs. (13) Miley Cyrus in the Bjork bracket and (4) Sarah Jessica Parker dukes it out with (13) Ashton Kutcher in the Cher bracket. Yes, it’s Fug Madness 2009 over at our favorite celeb-fashion site http://gofugyourself.celebuzz.com, where our Fug Girls have organized the second annual bracket smackdown to name the worst-dressed celebrity of the year. It’s an impressive effort with well-researched archival photos of style choices you do not want to miss.
What? Did you think there was some other bracketology going on today?