Houses of Cards and Cardinals
I’m not exactly plumb proof positive what attention-deficit syndrome actually is at the molecular level, but there are certainly times when I feel like its poster child – like when particular scenarios interact with one another.
Take, for instance, the current NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the Netflix online over-the-top political drama, "House of Cards." Although I attempt to keep track of both evolving storylines separately as best I can, admittedly there are times when one spills over upon the other.
Take Sunday night, for instance. There I was, immersed, soap-opera-fashion in the one and sports-fan-wise in the other. As Netflix released the entire 13 episodes of House of Cards in one fell swoop online, it was possible to start-stop-and-restart each installment in order to check in on the tournament which ran continually on the TV set adjacent to the computer monitor.
Historically, basketball bracketology has a way of lampooning both hemispheres of what I often laughably refer to as my logic center. Neither hunch nor calculation seems able to predict outcomes any better than the other. This year is no different.
One of my premonitions related to the fact that, recently, the College of Cardinals cloistered in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican elected a Jesuit as Pope. I took that as a no-brainer that Gonzaga University, a Jesuit school and seeded number one in the West Regional, not to mention riding a hot streak, would find its way to the Final Four.
Yeah, right! After barely eking out a victory in their opening round matchup against the number-sixteen seeded Southern University, the Bulldogs fell from grace against Wichita State in their next game and, now, have humbly returned to Spokane, their season abruptly over.
And, of course, that’s not the only drubbing I’ve taken in the tournament. Many of my teams, as usual, have been dropping like flies. Not that that’s anything new. I half expect various university athletic departments with teams who have qualified for the tournament to attempt to buy me off – pay me to not pick them in the brackets.
Which brings us to the contemporary congressional potboiler, "House of Cards," featuring Kevin Spacey as an always-conniving Democratic House majority whip from South Carolina and his equally scheming yet far-more-subtle spouse portrayed by Robin Wright. The cast is as delicious as the plot – which caroms from riveting to garish – is uneven. I know, it sounds a lot like the powers that be in the NCAA.
Not that I can’t wait to get back to it – being only five episodes in with eight more to go. I suppose it has an appeal that says something maybe not all that flattering about those to whom it appeals. That being said, as far as I am concerned, the hook has been set. I’m onboard, at least for this season, which, hopefully for me, will be wrapped up in relatively short order.
I have this sense that, at this moment anyway, I am equally as far into the respective intrigues of both the hoops and political dramas being played out upon the adjacent screens – one a museum-worthy cathode-ray tube and the other a flat screen of somewhat more recent vintage.
One of the dramas, the basketball tournament, remains a work in progress, while the other, the totally resolved but as-yet-unrevealed, at least to me, high-end political soap opera, wrapped months ago. Somehow I have total confidence that I’ll be able to knock out all the remaining episodes in fairly short order but, in the meantime, there is also on my plate that sordid business of the NCAA Sweet 16 coming up later this week.
Actually, if the truth be known, my Sweet 16 has shrunk to a Tepid 10. It could be worse, of course, just not a whole lot worse. There is an upside to all this ego-driven sports prognostication when it goes totally awry, of course. And that is when teams like the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles make it much further than any of the smart set, present company included, could have possibly imagined.
It would not be unlike, say, a spineless underdog chemically-dependent lush congressman being given a second chance to right his ship through some mysterious karmic bank account to which we the viewers of "House of Cards" are not yet privy.
Trust me, that sentence was nowhere nearly as convoluted as some of the plotlines in the aforementioned Netflix TV series or, for that matter, in the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Where do they come up with this stuff ?
There is one more shoe to drop, however, and that would be my pick to win this year’s hoop-de-do. And here it is: the Louisville Cardinals over the Indiana Hoosiers by a score of 71 to 65. I feel real good about that particular selection.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.
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