Dear Friends: So, who's still alive in their office pool? Thought so. It's probably worth about 2 gallons of nothing by now. Because if you picked Gonzaga and Oregon and UNC and USC (not that USC, this year's USC) you're some kind of genius. And none of us here are geniuses. Especially you, CCDuke. (And how's that for a pen-name-pun?)
Because on the west-side, we'll give you Gonzaga. (Although, the Zags zigged out to a regular season undefeated winning streak before faltering (like the GS Warriors in last year's NBA final, or the Patriots in the 07 Super Bowl) and looked like they were gonna be guilty of peaking early and coming up short, until they righted the ship and won their a place in the Final Four, but still seem like they may have peaked early. And remember the good old days, when Tom Brady still occasionally lost? Well, a note to our President Trump: occasionally, we lose. We all do. But a loss in the short term only prepares us to win in the long term. And we here all still think you're just like Tom Brady, and with all the trophies to prove it, and you will right the ship. And by the way, huge win getting Brady's jersey back.) But picking Oregon? Come on, man. If you picked that, you guessed. And it was probably a blind guess. Because frankly, they may have blinded their way to the Final Four. (Blinded their way? Huh? Yeah, those uniforms are blinding. And please stop. My dog is going bonkers chasing you all over the screen.) But that kid Jordan Bell can really ring it up. (Which for the unititiated, ring it up is a play on hoop it up, except if your name is Bell, you ring it up. Sports-cliche-puns are the best.)
And on the east-side, we'll give you UNC, aka Carolina to the entire basketball world, somehow (and more on that later), although 4 out of 5 of us Dear Friends wouldn't pick Carolina for anything but to go to hell. (That's a joke, people. We don't damn people here. But Carolina can go to hell.) And 1 out of 5 of us likely picked Villanova, so all of us here are in the same boat load of early exits. Of course, and just like myself, Villanova guy likely didn't play a pool, because Villanova guy isn't a gambler, unlike myself. Proving once again that Villanova guys are smarter than Duke guys, occasionally. And Villanova guy has the income to prove it. (He married up.) And I'm just not smart enough to play a pool. Although, I could probably let my dog pick for me, and exclusively based on uniforms. Whatever. It's just as good a strategy as any. But those 'hopefully to be tarred-and-feathered-heels' of Carolina, in their pseudo-blue uniforms, as if that's any real color of blue, as if, because as pseudo-blue as Carolina is, they're probably crushing Oregon, and the only good thing there, the only good thing, is that they save my dog from going bonkers chasing neon all over the screen. Unless, of course, Bell rings it and rings it over and over again. And we here will certainly root for that, even if my dog has to go temporarily bonkers for a bit longer. But dabnammit, as Roy Williams might say, Carolina is just too namn good this year, and Oregon probably isn't ready for the prime-time. (And that's a neon-Deion reference, for no other reason than sports-cliche-puns are the best.)
Which brings us to South Carolina, and who is apparently only the other Carolina. Puh-lease. Because who the heck picked them, right? You'd hafta be a genius, or from South Carolina. (Which fyi, because you probably didn't know this, and I didn't either, until I heard it, that South Carolina is a state well known for many things, but not so much their bar-b-que, which is apparently divided into four separate bar-b-que zones, by region within South Carolina, and apparently based on the bar-b-que base, as in ketchup or mustard, which quickly climbs them up the ladder of unknown culinary state status. And speaking of one of my favorite subject's in the whole world, bar-b-que, in my humble 'my bar-b-que will kick your bar-b-que's butt any day of the week', and anywhere, anytime, and you have my word on that, because my bar-b-que method is best called char-b-que, which I'm now officially intellectually-copyright-trademarking as Char-B-QueTM, and speaking of, I'm now Intellectually-Copyright-TradeMarking that concept itself as ICTM, so I now officially own Char-B-QueICTM, and in my humble Char-B-QueICTM opinion: Burgers and hot dogs are the clear fan-favorite bar-b-que food, period. And should only be char-b-que'd by accident, although charred burgers are pretty good, if only accidentally. But go medium-rare-and-uncharred for best results. Seared, yes. Charred, only by accident. Hot dogs are good any way you make em, but please, with mustard only. (And raw onions, if you're middle-aged or older, for the taste, of course, and most important, for the fiber.) And second best are my Char-B-Que'dICTM chicken thighs, which if I ever marketed, I would be the King of all Food. No joke. And there's zero chance in UNC that I'll give you my method, or the recipe for my sauce, until my dying breath. (But hint: for chicken thighs, go with a ketchup-based sauce.) And if you really love and understand bar-b-que, then you know that it's all about the ribs, and only the ribs. (And brisket people and pulled-anything people can go to UNC.) A little history here: back in the day, an old-school black man once advised me, standing in the meat aisle of the local ACME supermarket, that in order to do ribs right, and I quote, "You gotta boil the ribs first." A fine idea, at the time, and I used that method for years. But I was young, dumb, and still bar-b-que-impressionable. I know better now. This isn't my first bar-b-que. So if you really wanna do ribs right: the Salt Lick 2-step process, out of Texas. What you'll need: A rack of ribs, preferably baby-back ribs. A bottle of Salt Lick mustard-soybean-oil based sauce, mild or spicy, but go with the spicy. A bottle of Salt Lick mustard-non-soybean-oil-but-spicy-as-a-SOB dry rub, which also comes in the mild, if you wanna waste your time. And, you'll need a bar-b-que. And the method:
- Apply dry rub to (unboiled) ribs, and apply liberally, especially if you're a conservative. (Culinary irony is the best, after sports-cliche-puns.)
- Throw ribs on a super-sear-hot grill, and maintain a high-level of heat. (Charcoal is best, but gas also works, if you have no other choice. And if you use aluminum foil in any way shape or form, you should be banned from bar-b-que-ing any and all bar-b-que forever.)
- Flip early and often to achieve the desired level of charred-ness.
- Once the preferred charred-ness is achieved, then, and only then, apply the sauce, but not liberally, and only as a finishing sauce. It is soybean-oil based, so it will over-charr if not done precisely as such.
Now, there's probably an alternate method that calls for progressive-charring rather than quick-charring. But we don't do tofu here. And never will. We will do seafood, occasionally, and veggies, cause you gotta have your fiber, but we like our meats here. And whether ketchup-based or mustard-based, we love our sauce. Which brings us back to South Carolina, and culinary-wise, my experiences there have been in Charleston, Hilton Head, and Myrtle Beach. Imagine fine cuisine in Charleston, early-bird cuisine in Hilton Head, and the Hooters in Myrtle Beach. But what a Hooters. Maybe the grand-daddy of them all, given the golf-friendly and college-friendly atmosphere, and of course, all the hooters. And if you can eat an entire plate of the thermo-nuclear hot-wings, you are the man. And if you pick South Carolina to win the Final Four, I'm right there with you.
And as such, the Final Four in Phoenix (home of one of the largest senior-citizen populations in the country, and represented by one of the oldest cronies in all of politics, John McCain, a total hero, but should totally go retire, to somewhere other than Phoenix, and one of the smallest young populations in the country, thus the sky-rocketing Obamacare premiums, and sky-rocketing like a Virgin Galactic rocket to the moon1 ) promises to be a god one. And we here are officially picking both the east teams to beat both the west teams, and in the battle of north and south, go with the south. That's a tough team, with a tough coach, and a super-star caliber player in Sindarius Thornwell, and in that grand-daddy of all sports-cliches that are simply always right as rain: Defense. Wins. Championships. Bank on it. But please, bank on it responsibly.
1Stephen Hawking2 has been offered a free trip to space, and I personally am thrilled for him. And to all you non-believers out there, you see, there is a God.
2Stephen Hawking would totally get the equation: E v. W = N v. S. You don't have to be a genius, people.