Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In like a lion. Out like a lamb. Here like a toothache.

Joe Brancatelli of  is my most reliable and diligent travel guru.  Not only is his industry coverage accurate, he often predicts and reports travel breakdowns before they happen.

Want to receive urgent up-to-the-nanosecond news bulletins before it's even reported on TV?  (How does he do it?!)  Subscribe to, then hit the trails knowing Joe’s on the job.

Joe’s expertise saves me from making booking errors, and occasionally makes me rethink my attitude—which is a good thing.  But there is more to Joe.

He shares his spotlight with trusted professionals who write about travel gadgets, worldwide hotels, golf courses, restaurants, bars …  (FULL DISCLOSURE: He advertises this blog, which, compared to the rest of his posse, is Travel Lite.)  He is a film buff, music lover, fine diner and a quirky curmudgeon with a soft heart.  I relish the receipt of his Friday Brancatelli File email newsletter because he covers all this and more.

But last Friday, the Joester ticked me off.

Following important facts and speculations about the then pending British Airways strike, and after pointing to his astute article on the airlines’ resistance to upcoming regulations (in which he used the word gobsmacked), AND after sharing critical info in the "Steals and Deals" section of Tactical Traveler, he announced he was getting to the “really important stuff.”  Huh? What could be more important than all of that?  Then I read his next sentence.

“Great first day of March Madness, eh?”


Yes, Joe. It is March.  And I am mad.  About one thing: March Madness.

“Who doesn’t love upsets by underdogs and double overtime games?” he asks.  I sense the dreamy lilt of true love in his voice.

Me,  Joe.  ME!

Yes, I almost always root for the underdogs.  But I never watch basketball.  Never.  I am MAD in March because my husband doesn’t share my disdain of the sport.  “Gads, George! Isn’t this the last game YET?”

George stares at me.  Blinks.  Rotates one eye back to the TV. Draws a deep breath and begins rattling of a string of endless numbers.  “They start with say 64 teams, then play down to thirty-two, then to the Sweet Sixteen...”  The color guys are screaming.  George stops talking to watch.  I do not look at the TV.  I hear gym shoe squeaks, whistles, gym shoe squeaks, a backboard bang, the hubbub regarding a fake fall to the floor. Time out. “Then,” George says, resuming his fast-talking rundown while keeping one eye on the TV (heaven forbid he miss a drip of their profuse sweat, enough sweat to fill the court for water polo), “it’s down to the Elite Eight, on to the Final Four to the …”

I interrupt.  “Just tell me where we are in all this ‘excitement.’”

He turns his head my way.  “You don’t want to know.”

It’s not just George. Travel during March is a nightmare. Every bar in every airport, every TV in every hotel lobby, every radio in every cab. Basketball.  Seatmates rustle the newspaper, frantically folding and refolding, reading every word about every game likely already watched. And sometimes, they want to talk about it.

"I hate basketball," I say, delivering a preemptive shut down.

But now, it's Joe in my inbox, talking basketball--in a travel newsletter.

Point, shoot, bounce the ball, point, shoot, (yawn), run, gym shoe squeak, whistle, run, gym shoe squeak, louder gym shoe squeak, fake fall to the floor, GYM SHOE SQUEAK.  ANOTHER WHISTLE.  BOUNCING  BALLS.  PEOPLE SCREAMING.  FAKE—FAKE, FAKE, FAKE--FALL TO THE FLOOR!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Truly compelling stuff,” Joe writes.

Oh, yeah.  Compelling.

March MADNESS indeed.


Jean said...

I turn on KWNO, to listen to my hour of polka music, and find out it has been replaced with sports. Uffda!!!! Skip March and get right into April as the weather is better then anyway.

Elisa said...

I'm with you, girl. Maybe we should start our own THANG and have a girls month (lol) til basketball season fizzles out. Or they go on strike. Or basketball is deemed traitorous and punishable by death (or at least no cookies before dinner).

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

I can watch hours of baseball (go CUBBIES!), football (just about any game, but especially da Bears), hockey (Blackhawks for sure)... But there is just something about basketball that sets my teeth on edge. Squeak, whistle, squeak, bounce-bounce-bounce ...

Dana said...

I'm lucky my husband isn't into basketball! However, he is into all the old westerns so that drones on and on and on and on.... I escape into a book or walk the dog. C'mon football season!

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

Someone sends a Tweet that the Pres. is live on TV. I run down, turn it on, and right now he's talking about ... you guessed it ... basketball.

It is what it is, eh?

Allan said...

Sorry, I'm with Joe on this one. The NCAA tournament may well be the most exciting sports event today. Both my wife and I spend hours watching.

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

Alan, I am happy for you. Truly I am. Especially because you are "somewhere out there," and not in my living room. ;>) It's great you and your wife both enjoy the games. Bowl of popcorn, cuddled on the couch, pompoms, cheering for your bracket ... Sounds wonderful, right up until the basketball part.