Friday, December 31, 2010

Mala Fortuna: Stanford Stops the Streak

The jinx lives on.

Shortly after having this thought, I decided to search my blog for previous uses of the word jinx.  Having written about both college basketball and professional tennis, there was no doubt that my deleterious impact upon the success rates of my favored teams and players would be documented here.  I have been more true to my jinx attribute than to any other character trait.

In an aptly titled entry, Blather, I explained the genesis of the curse, as engineered, and then painstakingly nurtured, by Brother-Unit Grader Boob.*  Begun as a common-sensical remedy to my native curse, the jinx method expanded to encompass our mutual academic pursuits, something that would otherwise be inexplicable:
Good morning. It is lovely here: warm, sunny, clear -- you know, when the whites of the sky are opalescent, surrounded by true blue. I am tempted to say "Carolina blue," out of fondness for an alma mater... but as we approach March Madness, I cannot lend support to UNC, or even to little Davidson, despite last year's excitement and the incredible Stephen Curry-- no, I am obliged, academically, to prefer the much deeper blue hue of the Devil. I can't wait for the ACC Tournament, then that inconsequential old NCAA tourney thang... It's my favorite time of year, despite the fact that my brother-unit, the Grader Boob (who owes no allegiance to the Gothic Wonderland), long ago convinced me that I am a bona fide jinx, making a rule that when Duke, or whoever, is in a tight spot -- the fault being me and the bad luck I bring by my proximity to the television set -- I must retreat out of the viewing room and not cross the plane of the doorway. So he would end up munching on Malted Milk Balls, stretched out on his bed, blocking the screen, while I jumped up and down trying to see over him from my position in the hallway. Brother-Units are such fun.

Of course, he is jealous that I planned my academic career by the sporting accomplishments of the various universities I attended. It is a little known fact that admission to graduate programs is contingent upon one's knowledge of the money sports -- basketball and football. I went to every interview in full regalia -- the appropriate jersey, face paint, the giant finger. This and only this can explain my success.

As we promptly noted and celebrated in this space, on Tuesday, December 21, 2010, the UConn Women Huskies broke John Wooden's 88-game streak record for Division I college hoops.  They extended the record to 90 games, an awesome feat, but then ran smack dab into the Stanford Cardinals last night.

I had nothing to do with it.

I swear.

Stanford 71, UConn 59
Stanford Beats UConn to Halt Streak at 90

Published: December 30, 2010

PALO ALTO, Calif. — The Connecticut Huskies had been undefeated during the Obama administration, untouched by the great recession, undeterred by the fiercest obstruction from any opponent in women’s college basketball.

No more.

Just as top-ranked UConn had feared, ninth-ranked Stanford was too big, too deep and too thorough inside and out on Thursday, defeating the Huskies by 71-59 at sold-out Maples Pavilion and ending Division I college basketball’s longest winning streak at 90 games.

UConn, which won by an average of 33 points during its streak and won all but two games by double figures, did not lead for a single second, falling to its first defeat since it lost to Stanford by 82-73 in the N.C.A.A. semifinals on April 6, 2008.

Just as Notre Dame bookended the U.C.L.A. men’s 88-game winning streak set from 1971 to 1974, so has Stanford bracketed the Huskies’ streak.

* I am pleased to announce that, on January 15, Grader Boob will be flying into the regional Tête-de-Hergéen supersonic transport hub -- a challenging landing on the southwestern slope of The Alp.  The Brother-Unit and I envision a leisurely manoral weekend with Fred, La Bonne et Belle Bianca, and the three extant Marlinspike felines.  G.B. has a longstanding and unrequited love for The Castafiore (and, truth be told, for the cats) -- I don't delude myself into thinking that filial love is behind this sudden need for a mini-vacation.  Anyway, great plans for great fun are in the works, thus far mostly involving food, flannel pyjamas, and U.S. American college basketball (with jinx provisions).

Oh God, Bianca is getting riled-up in anticipation of both Grader Boob's arrival and her chance to cheer on her favorite teams, an activity that includes dressing to the nines (elevensies and fourths) and operatic productions to beat the band.  As Spectator Athletes of the highest non-professional calibre, we take our Viewing Fashions seriously and can only wish that the athletes we visually support would likewise expend some money on appropriate couture.  Like words, it mattersDo you recall the incalculably noxious impact of Caroline Wozniacki's tennis dress back in September of '09?  I barely survived that Fashion Sentinel Event...

[...] I became somewhat upset earlier in the evening, after watching the Clijsters/Williams match. [Aside: Please note that my customary role as jinx and source of mala fortuna did not come into play; That is, my favored athlete did manage to win, albeit not in a way she, or anyone, liked overly much.]

Actually, I was babbling even before Serena was subjected to that IDIOTIC foot-fault call by The Timid and Conniving LinesWoman. No, the smashing of her racket at the end of the first set didn't set me off -- surprising, I know, given my reaction to Gonzalez yesterday.

No... it was Wozniacki's tennis dress. She is the second woman in the tournament to be a fashion disaster in what can only be described as a Failed Dropped-Waist Contraption. And it was beige. Ecru, if you like. Sand. Café con leche. Whatever.

All that beige really brought out Caroline's pale visage and blond hair.

Yes, I know that the dress is from the new fall/winter Adidas line by Stella McCartney. It certainly does not look bad on Wozniacki, a beautiful girl. But imagine it on your average woman. Imagine it on La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore, for instance.

I'm sorry. No, I'm not! It reminds me so much of a schoolgirl's jumper, deliberately ugly, with a band that bisects the wearer at precisely her widest point. Oh, and then let's amplify that impression with... RUFFLES. Quite the philosophical construction -- all business up top, very hip, spare, monosyllabic, c'est-à-dire masculine -- and all fluff down below, very flouncy, excessive, babbling, c'est-à-dire feminine. Oh, the dichotomy. Oh, my. My.

Again, put The Castafiore in it and suddenly even the umpire would be howling "Foul! Foul! Fashion fault!" Alternatively, the tennis audience would cry out, in alarming syncopation, "My eyes! My eyes!"

Oh jeez-louise.  She is really gearing up;  She's deep into her favorite basketball chant-and-step routine, which has a rhythm that Bianca also employs to lend a pleasing cadence to her housework (an equally seasonal event):

f'blasticball! f'blasticball! allez, dooook-uh! allez, dooook-uh! [shuffle shuffle]

f'blasticball! f'blasticball! allez, dooook-uh! allez, dooook-uh! [shuffle shuffle]


  1. Happy New Year a La Bianca et tous les chats et Le Fred.
    Love from your non-Frenchy blogifier,

  2. right back at you, fresca -- heureuse et douce année!

    here's to new days!


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