For the 45th Time …

January18/ 2000

… I’ve followed Carolina Basketball for 50 years.  45 of those years, the season has ended in a disappointing loss (the other 5 were 4 NCAA and 1 NIT championships)…. I survived all 50 years.  Thanks to the generosity of friends, I saw more games in person this year than I normally do.  Those were fun experiences.  But this is NOT a lecture from me on “it’s just games, folks!” …. But a reminder on squeezing joy from each day.  And there’s “the boy in the Ram’s suit” and Nigella Lawson and Planet Earth and a BobLee HAVE TO command.

Recounting the weekend …. Mizzus and I went over to Chapel Hill Saturday and had lunch at Mama Dip’s.  I had never eaten at the landmark establishment.  It was fine.  I would go back.  On the way home we stopped at Southern Seasons.  Mizzus had fun fondling pottery, doo-dads, and assorted thingamagigs.  I watched her fondle the thingamagigs, watched the other customers, and sampled all the samples.  We did lots of chatting about Kid who is home on Spring Break, still doing boffo at Mizzou, and poised to kick her academic career into overdrive next year.

Saturday night I did a 3 hour radio show on WPTF with Mark Shiver.  Late night weekend radio is “an interesting experience” a bit like going skinnydipping in Crystal Lake and realizing they never actually found Jason Voorhees’ body.  Or maybe fishing at night on Bogue Sound using a headless chicken as bait.  Or being a “tunnel rat” in Viet Nam.  In each case, absolutely nothing OR a big surprise might await you.  Mark and I chatted about ships, sails, and sealing wax while who-knows-whats lurked in the shadows.  A couple of who-knows-whats contacted me ….. brrrrrrrrr!  A chilling reminder of why the Good Lord invented dead-bolt locks.

I thought Friday night’s UNC v USC game was perhaps the Heels finest to date.  They took command in the 2nd half and dominated.  Of course, “that” happened Sunday afternoon too, but it was the wrong “they”.

I watched UCLA defeat KU on a monitor in the WPTF studio.  Immediately after the game I had Mark check the Jayhawk loonie bin.  Would distraught KU-Loons be blaming Bill Self, the refs, the media or the NCAA Committee?  Those of you betting that they would blame the NCAA Committee …. YOU WIN!   Around 8 PM on Sunday it wasn’t as easily defined.

There is ALWAYS a Tar Heel fan element that will “blame the refs”.  Always blaming authority figures for anything that goes askew in their sad little lives.  But showing uncharacteristic sorta-maturity, that whine was not a central mantra.  There was no central villain to blame (Billy Packer, Coach K, Otto Petty, the guy who fouled Derrick Phelps, Don May, ______ ).

One little hyperbolic wuzzle immediately labeled it “the most devastating loss in Carolina history”.  He was quickly dismissed by his fellow wuzzles as chronologically and/or psychologically no more than 12 years old at most and obviously off his retallin.

There is 1984 …. and then a dozen “pick’ems” depending how full of a life you had going for you at the time of other “heartbreakers”.  The key point lost in rating your most memorable UNC BB loss is that the program has been on the big stage so often over so many years that the 4 “bright shining moments” are naturally going to be outweighed by the “sorry Charlies, no cigar”.   Imagine trying to have a discussion over “the most devastating loss in Clemson BB history”?

I have never met nor ever heard his name before Friday night …. Jason Ray aka “the kid in the Ramses suit”.  Surely you know the story …. hit by a car while walking back to his New Jersey hotel …. in a coma with a dark prognosis (Jason died Monday morning) …. and reports aplenty of what a super all-around outstanding young man he was.

Was Jason Ray a super all-around great young man because he was hit by a car in a freak accident ….. or because he went to Carolina …. or because he has been “the kid in the Rameses suit”?  No.  Jason Ray was a great young man because of his family, his friends and maybe mostly because of his own determination and self-discipline to be “an all-around outstanding young man”.   In today’s world, that’s a 24/7 job.  If he had not been hit by that car, 99.9% of TarHeelNation would not have a clue about him.  Or Stephen Gates.  Remember him?

I don’t know why “bad things happen to good people” ….. OR why “good things happen to bad people”.   As a husband and dad I ALWAYS tell Mizzus and Kid to “be careful” when they go out.  They laugh at silly ol’ worrying dad.  That’s OK.  I’m not really worrying so much as just reminding them that “somebody cares” and that that somebody is me.  I can’t be with them every second and even if I could I can’t protect them from all, or even most, of life’s creepy crawlies …… like traffic accidents …. and shadows on an x-ray or bone scan.

I hope my fellow Tar Heels will think kind thoughts about this young man and pray for him and his family.  I hope Wolfpack and Duke and National Champion Barton College fans will too.  “Super all-around great young men” are always a premium … and becoming more so.  If Jason Ray was Mr Wuff or The Blue Devil or The Deacon or Yousef or The Pirate …. Same Jason but in “a different suit” ….. would you care as much?  Why not?

Is Elizabeth Edwards’, Kay Yow’s, or Butch Davis’ respective cancers any more or less tragic and more or less worthy of compassion because of who they are.  Everybody is somebody.  Cancer doesn’t care.

STOP THE PRESSES! …. An Official BobLee HAVE TO Alert.  You have to start watching the new series Planet Earth on The Discovery Channel.  But first, if you do not have HD capability, go buy an HD TV today …. Then start watching Planet Earth on The Discovery Channel.  This is not a suggestion my friends.  This is a commandment.

OK, you know who is telling you this.  This is BobLee the hard core right-wing extremist …. Not Reverend Algore the goggle-eyed self-proclaimed Global Spokesman for The Church of The Impending Calamity Because I Say So.

 Planet Earth is NOT some Algore/Michael Moore sci-fi fantasy scam cleverly produced to tell their legion of mindless lemming exactly which cliff to dive off of de jour. 

This incredible series took five years to film.  It is a tribute to film technology and very talented people and some darn incredible subject matter.  Imagine all the really cool nature photographs you’ve seen in National Geographic over the years …. minus the exposed mammary glands on the New Guinea tribeswomen.   Take all those photographs and put them in a moving film sequence in high definition.

Kid clued us into this.  We DVRed the first two “episodes” this weekend.  It runs on the weekends for 4-5 more weeks.  Look up the details and WATCH IT.  Again ….. this is NOT some Eco-terrorist crap.  Guess what …. This is OUR WORLD too just as much as it is the goggle-eyed venom-filled eco-anarchists’.   I “give a Hoot … I don’t pollute”.   I bet you don’t either.  Not every good idea needs its own law (more on that little phrase in the columns to come).

Planet Earth is a pretty incredible complex creation.  It was not created by Oprah or Algore or Rush or Ol’ Roy or BobLee or Tom Cruise or Rachael Ray or A-Rod or Little Johnny Swofford.  Personally I take comfort in being reminded that my significance on this orb is about like a swooping frigate landing on Ascension Island.

The show is a ever-blending combination of geology, botany, zoology, meteorology, and high definition photography.  It is totally void of any “message” other than “Wow, that’s pretty freakin’ cool!” ….. Get an HD TV and watch it. 

Large doses of Planet Earth and The Food Channel and your distraughtness over Sunday night will quickly subside.  I promise.  Oh Oh Oh …. Speaking of The Food Channel …. I finally saw Nigella Lawson.  Hubba Hubba! ….. a Rachael Ray for grown-up boys.


 Who was Stephen Gates?


   The Chefographies on The Food Channel are neat.

   I appreciate the dozens and dozens and dozens of reminders about the Movie The Shooter w/ Mark Wahlberg as a certain Rambo-esque action hero.   I explained all that about two months ago.  The links between Stephen Hunter, moi, Bob Lee Swagger, and BobLee are all OK.  See the movie …. read the books …. read the columns ….

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