Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bracket bust (and Daejeon trip)

I’ve been writing some form of my bracket takes, via mass email then blog, for a long time now. Every year since 2003, in fact. Prior to that, I lived in Lawrence, so I basically talked to or saw everyone I talked hoops with every single day anyway, so there wasn’t much need for the inter-tubes. This year, it looks like the trend will end. I got nothin. I’ve been away too long, and I can’t even pretend to know what’s
going on in college hoops anymore. I’ll still submit a bracket, of course, but I don’t even know which teams in the Midwest region I should be scared of this year. I’ve seen a total of one game on TV since 2006 - KU-Southern Illinois online last year. I think CBS is running the first 3 rounds online again, so I’ll watch any KU games I can, dependent of course on insane time difference matters and work schedules.

Anyway, since I can’t talk hoops brackets, it’s still March, which is still bracket season. So, I’ll chat about one of my personal brackets - the road trip bracket. Proof, for those of you that needed more, that I’m completely nuts.

I started the road trip bracket in the spring of 1999, while bored in a media sales class. I’d made a list of all my road trips (and plane, boat, and train trips) going back as long as I could remember, which turned out to be the summer of 1984. It turned out that, as of March 1998, I’d been on exactly 64 road trips. The coincidence was not lost on me. I immediately regionalized the trips (pretty obvious there, south, east, west, midwest) and seeded them based on their distance from the point of origin (which was almost always Lawrence) and then faced them off, head to head. Which trip was better, my 1990 trip to San Diego, or my 1996 visit to Washington and Oregon while determining colleges? Finally, there was a reason to decide, as only one could advance to the next round. Anyway, the bracket turned out to be pretty fun, plus it killed like 3 days worth of media sales classes that I may have otherwise been forced to pay attention to. Come March of 2000, I had a couple massive west coast road trips a Euro adventure under my belt, so I couldn’t resist doing another one. Plus, I had a media ethics class that desperately needed some distractions. I’ve done one every year since. Also, for the sake of keeping things fresh, every road trip since the previous March automatically makes the field of 64.

My most recent and most random trip, and the one where I filled out most of the field for this years bracket, was to Daejeon, a city of 1.5 million people in central South (definitely not south central) Korea. I chose Daejeon because a) my whipped, pansy, vaginistic (new word here, meaning one who holds the properties and characteristics of a vagina, no existing word in the English language seemed to fit) buddy Don pussied out of a long-planned trip to Busan, b)Daejeon is pretty close and really easy to get to via bullet train, and c) Daejeon was the host city of Expo ’93, and there was certain to be some awesome white elephant buildings.

I love white elephants, and nobody does them quite like Korea. For example, when Korea co-hosted the World Cup in 2002, they built 10 brand new stadiums for the event. 10, despite the fact that they were only hosting half the games. The U.S., for example, built zero new stadiums for our World Cup, and only hosted games in 8 cities across an enormous continental land mass. Korea is the size of Indiana. 10 brand new stadiums, most holding over 40,000 people. Now, those that are still in use are only used for K-league soccer, which nobody in Korea cares about. So, 4,000 fans in a venue for 60,000. On top of that, Seoul already had an Olympic stadium that was only 14 years old, which you’d think could have been renovated for the World Cup. Instead, it sits on the south side of the river on prime real estate, taking up space, and even more useless than it was since there’s a newer, more state of the art useless stadium across town.



Anyway, Daejeon Expo park kicked ass. It was like an abandoned EPCOT Center. The place is littered with various science pavilions, some that are for some reason still open, most mothballed. It was clearly the focus of the nation in 1993, but now it’s like a scientific county fair, still standing despite the facts that the carnies moved on to the next town a long time ago.


Nothing says "future white elephant" like Technopia


Hey Alexander, Deer Forest called, and they want their figurines back.

Anyway, so that’s my Daejeon trip. It was also highlighted by the fact that I went to a club with a $10 cover and then free beer but terrible music, so it was a bit of a conundrum to stick it out there for the 11 or so beers I had. All in all, that lands Daejeon as a 16 seed in the East, with absolutely no chance for advancement to the next round. As for basketball, I pick Kansas to go all the way, beating UNC and UCLA in the Final 4. Revenge is sweet. Rock Chalk.

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