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Posts from 2011 February

By Brendan Loy

Randy Styles, who became a father Saturday morning, earned a perhaps slightly less momentous (heh) but still notable achievement Sunday night, as he won his second consecutive Living Room Times contest — following up his win in the LRT Bowl Pick ‘em Contest with a victory in the LRT Oscar Pool.

Better watch out for Randy in the upcoming NCAA and NIT pools. :)

Styles, a resident of South Bend, Indiana, submitted his Oscar picks Friday night at 11:26 PM Eastern Time, apparently just hours before heading to the hospital for his daughter’s birth. He and his wife Elizabeth welcomed an 8 pound, 8 ounce baby girl at 9:43 AM Saturday.

On Sunday night, the proud papa finished with 67 out of a possible 80 points in the Oscar Pool, to edge David Kreutz and pool administrator Brendan Loy, who had 66 points each. Amid the sleep deprivation of his first full day of fatherhood, Styles stopped by the LRT liveblog about two-thirds through the show and wrote, “Hope I win like Bowl Pickem. Wife and I just had a baby girl.8 lbs.8 oz. … We are both really happy!”

Styles got just 4 awards out of 24 wrong. His mistakes were: Best Director, worth 9 points (he had David Fincher for The Social Network; Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech won); Best Cinematography, worth 2 points (he had True Grit; Inception won); Best Art Direction, worth 1 point (he had The King’s Speech; Alice in Wonderland won); and Best Animated Short, worth 1 point (he had The Gruffalo; The Long Thing won).

If not for Styles’s misjudgment in the Best Director category, it would have been the most dominant performance in Living Room Times Oscar Pool history, as he got almost all of the “minor” categories right.

Meanwhile, Vicki Lopez and Jeff Vaca, who would have been pool co-champions if “The Social Network” had won Best Picture, dropped all the way to 14th place when “The King’s Speech” won instead. It’s the third time in seven years that Lopez has been denied victory by a plausible but incorrect Best Picture pick, and at least the fourth time she has been a single award away from winning. (She finished second last year, thanks to mistaken picks in the screenplay categories.)

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By Brendan Loy

Starting tonight at 6:00 PM Mountain Time (or a little thereafter, depending on kids’ bedtimes and such), I’ll be live-blogging the Academy Awards — and live-updating the results of my 7th annual Oscar Pool.

Click here for the liveblog!

Or, follow along below… but really, you want to click the link for the separate liveblog page, because that’s where the live-updating Oscar Pool results (and also a live listing of award winners) are, plus the CoverItLive window.

Again, click here for the separate liveblog page with live results and whatnot.

By Brendan Loy

AGAIN!!! :)

17 Comments  |  Categories: Parenthood

By Brendan Loy

All right, kids… the Academy Awards are this Sunday, so it’s that time of year again… the 7th annual Living Room Times Oscar Pool is underway!!

Complete rules are at the entry page. The deadline to enter is Sunday at 5:30 PM Mountain Time. The pool is, of course, free. The prize? Eternal glory!

As always, contestants are urged to enter using their full name, or alternatively, a Twitter handle, partial name or nickname/pseudonym that is meaningfully identifiable to me and this blog’s community of readers. After all, what’s the point of “bragging rights” if we don’t know who you are?

The scoring system is slightly different this year, though it still adds up to 80 points. It’s this: 12 points for Best Picture, 9 apiece for the directing and lead acting categories, 6 each for the supporting acting categories, 4 each for the screenplay categories, 2 each for documentary feature, animated feature, foreign film, cinematography and original score, and 1 per award for everything else.

I can’t absolutely promise a liveblog and live, real-time results this year, as the Oscars are Sunday night and I’ve got major work stuff happening Monday morning. But I’ll do my best. For now, tentatively pencil in The Living Room Times as your Oscar-night live-blogging destination. :) And regardless, get in the pool!

UPDATE: Yes, Virginia, there is a liveblog!!!

P.S. Some Oscar-prediction resources:
Roger Ebert’s predictions for every category
GoldDerby summary of experts’ predictions
Doc’s Sports Oscars odds
EasyOdds Oscars betting
MovieGamut.com blog/odds

[Cross-posted from Pioneer Pulse.]

By Brendan Loy DU

Today’s unexpected and heartbreaking home loss to South Alabama, in which Denver blew a 15-point lead, badly damaged the Pioneers’ hopes of winning the Sun Belt West Division, and put at risk their chances of finishing in the Top 2 and thus earning a bye to the conference tourney quarterfinals in Hot Springs next month.

The defeat dropped DU into a three-way tie for first place, and now the pressure is on this 2-8 road team as they finish the regular season at red-hot Louisiana-Lafayette (9 straight wins) and conference nemesis North Texas this coming Thursday and Saturday.

So what are the scenarios for Denver?

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3 Comments  |  Categories: Pioneer Pulse

By Brendan Loy

My video from the wild Colorado-Kansas State ending last Saturday
No Comments  |  Categories: Uncategorized

[Cross-posted from Pioneer Pulse.]

By Brendan Loy DU

IMG_7244 2

As detailed in my liveblog, Denver walloped struggling Louisiana-Monroe, 65-37 at Magness Arena on Friday — and in the process, took back sole possession of the Sun Belt West Division lead, thanks to Louisiana-Lafayette’s win over Arkansas State.

Here are the AP story and the Denver Post story on the DU-ULM game. Both include the money quote from leading scorer Brian Stafford, who had 14 points: “It’s good to be back in the driver’s seat and have control of our destiny on this side of the bracket. We know the position we’re in, and we want to reward ourselves. That makes the next three games that much bigger.” As soon as he said that, I knew everyone would quote it. Heh.

Speaking of quotes, you gotta love the bluntness of Louisiana-Monroe coach Ernest Vasquez: “We’re a bad team,” he said of his Warhawks, who are 6-22 overall, 1-12 in conference play, and #332 (out of 345) in the RPI. “And they’re a good team. … We’re struggling in all areas, and Denver is really tough here. They’re good.” He has a great southern accent, too. I might try to post the audio later.

Denver next faces South Alabama on Sunday, then hits the road for games at Louisiana-Lafayette and North Texas to end the regular season. Unfortunately, Bally and I won’t be able to make it Sunday, so tonight was our last visit to Magness Arena for the year.

IMG_7326 2

Bally is happy to report, however, that the season ended with a bang — or rather a dunk:

Actually, I shouldn’t say “ended.” This was our last game at Magness this year, but it’s not necessarily out last DU game. If the Pioneers reach the Sun Belt championship game, we’ll be flying to Arkansas for it. Go Pioneers!

P.S. Below, video of the highlight of the night — the halftime performance by the Montbello High School Drumline:

2 Comments  |  Categories: Pioneer Pulse

By Brendan Loy

I kid, but this is terrible:

Someone has intentionally applied lethal amounts of herbicide to the soil around the famous Toomer’s Corner oaks on the campus of Auburn University, university officials said Wednesday.

They say there is little chance they can save the trees, which are an icon of the campus.

HROOM, HOOM!!! As B. Minich tweets, “That’s horrible. Where are the Ents when you need them?” Where indeed? Prime suspect Alabama had better be on the lookout. “We go, we go, we go to war, to hew the stone and break the door… To Sabanguard, with doom we come! With doom we come, with doom we come!”

Anyway, back to the story. Auburn “investigated after learning that a caller to Paul Finebaum’s radio show claimed on Jan. 27 that he had applied herbicide to the oaks.” Specifically, according to various accounts on Twitter, the caller said, “The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn. I live 30 miles away. I poisoned the Toomer’s tree.” Or words to that effect. So yeah, makes it sound like a Bama fan, though who knows. Whoever it is, he’s a sicko, as Andy Staples said.

According to the university (link loading very slowly due to heavy traffic):

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3 Comments  |  Categories: College Football

By Brendan Loy

George H.W. Bush got the Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday. Here he is, from the official White House Flickr account, meeting beforehand with Obama in the Oval Office:

P021511PS-0030

I’ll always have a soft spot for 41, who, as vice president, wrote (or at least signed…or had somebody stamp his signature on…shh, don’t shatter my childhood delusions) a letter to me in 1988, after I, at 6 years old, wrote him a letter congratulating him on winning the Republican nomination for president. (Money quote: “When Daddy said Dole quit, I said YAY! because I want you.”) That letter is still framed and hanging in my childhood bedroom in Connecticut. Anyway, I proceeded to bore my entire second-grade class to tears by rambling ceaselessly about George Bush’s awesomeness throughout the fall. He was the first politician I ever supported. Well, him and Lieberman, who won his first Senate term that year, and who I thought was the coolest guy ever because he shared my dad’s first name. :) Joementum FTW!

By 1992, I was not only supporting, but volunteering for, the Clinton campaign — but we won’t talk about that. I was a good little Republican, and Bushie, at age 6 and 7! :)

Anyway, hooray for Poppy Bush!

P.S. This got me thinking about what my party affiliation / ideological journey over the years would look like if you drew it on a chart. So I drew it on a chart!

brendan-dem-gop

Well, it’s a rough chart. Heh.

By Joe Mama

In case you missed it — and if your silly belief in “American Exceptionalism” extends to gridron football, and you’re bored by the most-played and most-watched sport on Earth, then you did — Wayne Rooney scored on an instant-classic bicycle kick in the 78th minute of Manchester United’s 2-1 “Manchester Derby” victory Saturday over rival Manchester City. It’s already being called the sports highlight of the new decade:

[UPDATE: The video has been removed from YouTube for copyright reasons. Does anyone know if there's an approved, "official" version out there? -ed.]

As Jason Gay puts it in describing A Global Moment That Needs No Translation:

Have you watched it yet? If not, don’t delay. Even if you’re a soccer skeptic; even if you gleefully ignore the World Cup; even if you don’t have the faintest idea who this Wayne Rooney is, it’s a must see. It’s that sublime.

******

When you see it, you don’t need to be a soccer fan to appreciate what Wayne Rooney did on the second Saturday of February. Because when the ball connects with Mr. Rooney’s spiraling foot and does the spectacular and improbable, anyone can recognize the feeling in the frame, the emotion that keeps us coming back to sports despite its many excesses and aggravations:

Joy.

Amen.

(H/T: Powerline)

37 Comments  |  Categories: Sports, The Guest Room

By Brendan Loy

Andrew Sullivan is finally back to blogging after a long health hiatus that stretched back to before the State of the Union address. I’ve been wondering, ever since the SOTU, whether Sullivan would share my disgust at Obama’s abject failure to pivot toward fiscal responsibility in a serious way. I expected that he would. And boy, was I ever right:

[T]he core challenge of this time is not the cost of discretionary spending. Obama knows this; everyone knows this. The crisis is the cost of future entitlements and defense, about which Obama proposes nothing. Yes, there’s some blather. But Obama will not risk in any way any vulnerability on taxes to his right or entitlement spending to his left. He convened a deficit commission in order to throw it in the trash. If I were Alan Simpson or Erskine Bowles, I’d feel duped. And they were duped. All of us who took Obama’s pitch as fiscally responsible were duped.

Conservative readers will doubtless laugh at that boldfaced line, but credit where credit is due: Sullivan is forthrightly acknowledging the very point that you were all dying to make, namely that he was “duped” and is just now coming to see the reality that y’all believe was apparent from the start. This is one of Sullivan’s strengths as a pundit: his willingness to admit when he was wrong. Going forward, I don’t expect we’ll be seeing much more in the way of praise from Sullivan for Obama’s double-super-secret genius. The honeymoon’s over. Anyway, back to Sullivan:

[T]his president is too weak, too cautious, too beholden to politics over policy to lead. In this budget, in his refusal to do anything concrete to tackle the looming entitlement debt, in his failure to address the generational injustice, in his blithe indifference to the increasing danger of default, he has betrayed those of us who took him to be a serious president prepared to put the good of the country before his short term political interests. Like his State of the Union, this budget is good short term politics but such a massive pile of fiscal bulls**t it makes it perfectly clear that Obama is kicking this vital issue down the road.

To all those under 30 who worked so hard to get this man elected, know this: he just screwed you over. He thinks you’re fools. Either the US will go into default because of Obama’s cowardice, or you will be paying far far more for far far less because this president has no courage when it counts. He let you down. On the critical issue of America’s fiscal crisis, he represents no hope and no change. Just the same old Washington politics he once promised to end.

Ouch. See also Ezra Klein, who writes of Obama’s seemingly thrown-under-the-bus Simpson-Bowles deficit commission:

What was notable about the Fiscal Commission’s final report was the way it opened up the playing field on the budget. It went after tax revenues, tax expenditures, the military, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, domestic spending, government reform and more. Most everyone disagreed with some of the specifics in the report, but plenty of folks on both sides of the aisle were happy to see so many cows demoted from sacred status. The report itself stood little chance of passing — it couldn’t even get the required 14 of 18 votes on the commission — but it heralded, many thought, a more open and honest budget debate, where things like entitlements and the mortgage-interest tax deduction could finally be discussed plainly.

Guess not. The president’s 2012 budget dodges on almost all of that. Entitlements are left alone. So, broadly speaking, are tax deductions… The military cuts are exactly what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said they should be, and they’re really not cuts at all: Just slight reductions in the rate of spending growth. The big attack is on the 12 percent of the budget known as non-defense discretionary spending, which is what politicians in Washington always like to focus on, and what the commission’s report was trying to move the discussion past. It’s like the Fiscal Commission never happened.

Slate’s John Dickerson, meanwhile, wonders whether there are secret, behind-the-scenes budget negotiations either happening or being organized. “If the president isn’t working something behind the scenes, he is falling short of the kind of leadership he promised,” Dickerson writes. He later adds: “If secret negotiations aren’t in the plan or already under way, we’re all sunk.” I’m dubious.

By Brendan Loy

I offer this not because of the political message, but simply because the late, great Carl Sagan — and wow, has it really been 14-plus years since he died? — rocks:

By Brendan Loy

“Mitch Daniels: serious, adult, not a wingnut, and articulating a lot of conservatism’s good ideas without a lot of its bulls**t. PLEASE RUN.”

–me, on Twitter tonight

I wish I’d paid more attention to Governor Mitch Daniels when I was living in Indiana during my time at Notre Dame, but I didn’t really care much about state politics because I knew I wasn’t going to stay. Now, Daniels has emerged on the national stage, and looks to me like, by far, the best substantive choice in the potential Republican presidential field. I need to learn a lot more about him. I certainly don’t agree with him on everything. But I really hope he runs.

Tonight, Daniels spoke at the conservative convention CPAC. (Insanely, I can’t embed their video of his speech. Huge, huge New Media #FAIL.) He focused almost exclusively on the looming debt crisis, which he likened to an enemy invading our shores, an existential threat that we must all unite in order to defeat. He called red ink the “new red menace.” As I said, I don’t agree with every word in his speech, but there’s plenty to like, including:

Lost to history is the fact that, in my OMB assignment, I was the first loud critic of Congressional earmarks. I was also the first to get absolutely nowhere in reducing them: first to rail and first to fail. They are a pernicious practice and should be stopped. But, in the cause of national solvency, they are a trifle. Talking much more about them, or “waste, fraud, and abuse,” trivializes what needs to be done, and misleads our fellow citizens to believe that easy answers are available to us. In this room, we all know how hard the answers are, how much change is required.

He went on to add — speaking at a conference of conservatives and Republicans, remember — that even defense spending must be on the table. (!!) Oh, and did I mention he called for means-testing Social Security?

And then, a bit later, these points:

We must display a heart for every American, and a special passion for those still on the first rung of life’s ladder. Upward mobility from the bottom is the crux of the American promise, and the stagnation of the middle class is in fact becoming a problem, on any fair reading of the facts. Our main task is not to see that people of great wealth add to it, but that those without much money have a greater chance to earn some. …

We should distinguish carefully skepticism about Big Government from contempt for all government. After all, it is a new government we hope to form, a government we will ask our fellow citizens to trust to make huge changes. …

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By Brendan Loy

We can remove the question mark now. The people have spoken, the dictator has (finally) heard them, and Hosni Mubarak has stepped down after three decades as Egypt’s ruler. What happens next? A true move toward some form of democracy, or Military Dictatorship II: Egyptian Boogaloo? Who the hell knows? For now, the protesters are jubilant. I heard a correspondent tell NPR that the joy in Cairo’s streets is “ten times greater than if Egypt had won the World Cup.” Heh. He also said it’ll be an “all-night party.” Well, good for them. Now let’s hope Egypt’s future is as joyous as is present, and that Iowahawk’s cynical take isn’t the final answer: “Vegas Line on next Egyptian Goverment: Kleptocrat Thugs 3-1, Genocidal Theocrats 2-5, Gentle Pro-Democracy Student Flower Children 87 million-1.”

[Cross-posted from Pioneer Pulse.]

By Brendan Loy DU

[UPDATE: Denver wins by a shockingly lopsided margin, 69-42. Wow! See my live tweets. And here are game stories by the Denver Post, the Sun-Sentinel and the AP.]

Kyle Whelliston’s Mid-Majority — the web’s premier resource for mid-major basketball coupled with random philosophical asides, 1980s references, Super Bowl information-avoidance contests, Tom Petty music, and redheads — drudge-gotn2has named tonight’s Denver-Florida Atlantic showdown at DU’s Magness Arena the Game! Of! The! Night! in all of mid-majordom, selecting it from among the 45 games being contested by teams from sea to shining sea in college basketball’s 25 below-the-Red-Line conferences. It’s the first time this season that a Sun Belt game has garnered “G!O!T!N!” honors. Whelliston writes:

The Sun Belt. Its massive 2,097-foot footprint brings together a dozen colleges in shared unity and purpose. They are all in the contiguous United States, for instance, and all offer four-year undergraduate degrees. It could be said, also, that the sun shines on all of them… some more than others, and that’s not some vague sports metaphor, I promise you. Despite all the travel, it’s been a fairly stable league this century, and the basketball has featured rising and falling long-distance rivalries. The 2000s began with a Western Kentucky/Louisiana-Lafayette axis, which later became a WKU-USA tandem, and North Texas has snuck in and won two of the last four championships. Right now, the league with no real center has no central struggle. And so tonight, we have a battle of division leaders from either far end, east and west.

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7 Comments  |  Categories: Pioneer Pulse

By Brendan Loy

The Wall Street Journal’s David Wessel looks ahead to Obama’s budget, due Monday, and what it may signify about his approach to the looming debt crisis. (You may recall that I blasted Obama after his State of the Union for timidity vis a vis the debt.)

Wessel writes that “when Barack Obama’s budget arrives on Monday, the thoughtful will look for responses to two issues.” The first issue: “The U.S. government budget is on an unsustainable course.” The second: “The U.S. economy, despite recent encouraging signs, is not growing fast enough to bring down unemployment and raise incomes.”

About that first issue, Wessel writes:

There are three ways to reduce future deficits. The quickest is for the economy to grow faster, but that won’t suffice. The others are to raise taxes or cut spending. Mr. Obama will propose that recently renewed Bush upper-income tax cuts expire in 2013, but otherwise won’t push revenue increases. Neither Republicans nor voters will contemplate higher taxes until they’re convinced spending has been cut, he figures.

On spending, today’s debate in Congress is about annually appropriated domestic spending, everything from paper clips to public health experts. … For all the noise, this spending, about $1 of every $6 the government spends, isn’t driving up deficits. “I’m waiting for the politician to get up and say: There’s only one way to do this. You dig into the big four: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense,” former Sen. Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.), co-chairman of a deficit commission Mr. Obama appointed, said Sunday on CNN. “Anybody giving you anything different…you want to walk out the door, stick your finger down your throat, and give them the green weenie.” (I looked it up: The “green weenie” was a plastic hot dog that Pittsburgh Pirates fans once waved to bestow good luck on their team and jinx opponents.) …

The White House argues there’s no point in the president proposing anything serious on big health- and retirement-benefit programs until Republicans are ready to deal. “If the president just gets up and says this is what I want to do and it’s not bipartisan…then he’s blasted, and we’re back to ground zero,” White House economist Austan Goolsbee said this week. So the president likely will stick to suggesting ways to offset the cost of must-do legislation (such as blocking scheduled cuts in Medicare doctor fees) and proposing fixes to smaller benefit programs, a trust-building exercise of sorts.

By casting the budget as a bargaining chip in a two-year poker game with Republicans rather than showing gutsy leadership and offering ways to slow benefit spending, the president runs the risk that no one will take his rhetoric about taming the deficit seriously. Here’s the tough reality: Even if defense spending goes from 4.7% of GDP to 2.8% by fiscal 2021, if stimulus spending ends, if domestic spending is cut and then frozen and if taxes are raised on upper-income Americans, the debt-GDP ratio still keeps climbing, Goldman Sachs projects.

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By Brendan Loy

It snowed again Monday night and Tuesday, and the wind blew a good bit of the white stuff onto our covered front porch, resulting in this pretty scene:

No Comments  |  Categories: Uncategorized

By Brendan Loy

This won’t really mean much of anything to regular blog readers, but over on Twitter, the quirky little community of mid-major obsessives orbiting The Mid-Majority is having a blast trying to “find” Kyle Whelliston, “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego”-style, based on hints he’s dropped while hiding from “The Knowledge” (of who won the Super Bowl) during his annual “Last Man” game.

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By Joe Mama

As if global warming, er, cooling“climate change” isn’t a big enough reason to PANIC!!!, now we have the magnetic poles flipping:

Forget about global warming—man-made or natural—what drives planetary weather patterns is the climate and what drives the climate is the sun’s magnetosphere and its electromagnetic interaction with a planet’s own magnetic field.

When the field shifts, when it fluctuates, when it goes into flux and begins to become unstable anything can happen. And what normally happens is that all hell breaks loose.

Evidently Earth’s magnetic poles switch periodically, with the north pole becoming the south, and vice versa. By “periodically,” scientists mean that

[o]n average, such reversals take place every 500,000 years, but there is no discernible pattern. Flips have happened as close together as 50,000 years, though the last one was 780,000 years ago.

In other words, we’re overdue. And according to the article, if recent storms are any indication, we could be in the midst of such a flip. Plus, there’s this:

The Earth’s northern magnetic pole was moving towards Russia at a rate of about five miles annually. That progression to the East had been happening for decades.

Suddenly, in the past decade the rate sped up. Now the magnetic pole is shifting East at a rate of 40 miles annually, an increase of 800 percent. And it continues to accelerate.

As Brendan would say, PANIC!!!

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By Brendan Loy

I’ll be at a Super Bowl party this afternoon, and likely won’t be doing much live-tweeting (though any tweets I do post will, of course, appear at left), so I’m not going to set up an auto-importing live-blog thingy. But if anyone wants to comment on the game (or the commercials), here’s the place to do it. Go, uh, Packers! I guess! (Because half of my family is from Wisconsin, and, um, I like cheese.)

No Comments  |  Categories: NFL Football

[Cross-posted from Pioneer Pulse.]

By Brendan Loy DU

College basketball is a funny sport. Something like 40 percent of the regular season takes place in November and December, when almost nobody is paying attention. Another big chunk happens in January, when football still dominates the national conversation. Only once the Super Bowl ends, and March Madness becomes the “next big thing” on the sports calendar, do casual fans really start paying attention.

Knowing this, my original plan was that February would be the month when Pioneer Pulse really takes off. I’d do some more in-depth and featurey type blog posts, I’d try more aggressively to advertise the site to potentially interested DU and Denver types, and I’d generally gear up for the coming push toward the postseason.

Alas, the opposite is going to be true. For personal reasons wholly unrelated to the team or the season or basketball, I’m going to need to take a step back from my DU blogging for the rest of the regular season — we’ll cross the March bridge when we come to it — and let my new @PioneerPulse Twitter account do the heavy lifting through February.

I’m sure the blog’s dozen regular readers are crushed. :)

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By Brendan Loy

Well… that was one of the nuttiest things I’ve ever done. But so much fun. Totally worth it. My most memorable basketball experience since BracketBusters 2007.

I hope to do a full write-up later. For now, here are two videos, neatly showing the beginning and the end. The first is of DU Bally in Laramie at 6:02 PM, watching the opening tip of BYU-Wyoming. The second is the view, from my seat in Fort Collins at 9:11 PM, of the thrilling final moments SDSU-CSU, as the Rams tie the game and the crowd erupts, then the Aztecs win it and the crowd deflates. Absolutely awesome atmosphere at Moby Arena. Phenomenal college basketball experience.

(For a full view of the action, you may want to change the resolution on the CSU-SDSU video from its default 360p to 760p (HD), and blow it up to full screen.)

Anyway, like I said, more later (in a new post). After the jump, the original post introducing today’s “Excellent Adventure.”

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10 Comments  |  Categories: College Basketball