Surf's Up

Science is a beautiful thing, as any ballplayer with a snootful of ephedra can tell you. Combine the vigor of deep thinking with the dynamics of a free marketplace and there's no breakthrough our researchers can't achieve -- from genetically altered Brussels sprouts to video games that simulate a nuclear holocaust.

But you can forget trifles like the internal-combustion engine or nerve gas. Even Cheez Whiz. The greatest advance of modern science has to be the remote control that comes with the TV. Tell me now, where would we be without this precious little slab of black plastic? What primitive indignities would we have to endure absent those neat little rows of rubber buttons?

The answer is simple. We would be Cro-Magnons, a race of slavering throwbacks forced to rise painfully from couch or recliner and lurch across the room every time we wanted to switch from the Rockies-Padres game to the ice-dancing championships from Dubrovnik. Imagine it. A living hell!

Happily, science has come through again. We click and we click and a world of wonders unfolds before us -- without our disturbing a drop of Budweiser or losing a wink of sleep. A sample of recent channel surfing:

"...oft-repeated claim by Pete Rose that he never bet on baseball was disputed by..."

"...Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova, who has yet to win a major tournament -- or any tournament, for that matter -- but who always catches the eye of..."

"...Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In a Pentagon briefing Wednesday, a visibly angry Rumsfeld again stressed his resolve to disarm Canada and depose that dangerous nation's prime minister, stating in no uncertain terms that time is running out for..."

"...the world's number-one golfer, Tiger Woods. After undergoing knee surgery and forcing his fellow players on the PGA Tour into psychiatric therapy, Woods took three months off from the game before returning in February to..."

"...the treacherous ice of the women's downhill course at Val D'Isere. American skiers finished 48th, 76th and 119th in the competition, their best showing of the winter. Meanwhile, the dominant Austrian and Swiss downhillers are locked in a battle for..."

"...control of central Baghdad. In the event of house-to-house fighting, Secretary Rumsfeld pledged that U.S. forces would, in his words, lay siege to..."

". . .Anna Kournikova. After losing in straight sets -- 6-1, 6-1 -- to unseeded Madeleine Albright of the U.S., the Russian tennis star talked about her brief, secret marriage to..."

"...CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?...Thanks, Jim. The scene here is one of unparalleled destruction. The full might of U.S. firepower is evident on what little remains of the twelve-theater multiplex annihilated last night by U.S. stealth bombers. Earlier this evening, I spoke with Army General..."

"...Mike Tyson, who used the weigh-in prior to Saturday's heavyweight matchup with Harold 'Tomato Can' Blatnik to raise the possibility of a midlife career change. 'I don't like myself very much. I don't like Don King very much. I don't like anybody or anything very much. After this fight, I think I'm gonna go home and smash my hands with a cinderblock, go buy some heroin and then join an order of monks in Tibet. Although I don't like Tibetan monks very much. But first, I'm gonna beat the living crap out of ....'"

"...Dealin' Doug. Let's work on your credit problems together, so you can get the car you need and deserve. Because..."

"...the German capital, Berlin, is ringed by hundreds of anti-aircraft batteries which train their withering flak on wave after wave of B-17 heavy bombers. By late 1944, the Allies will be the masters of the skies, but for now Goering's Luftwaffe wreaks havoc on..."

"...American Furniture Warehouse.... 'Hi, I'm Jake Jabs. Because we buy in bulk we can give you a special deal on...'"

"...Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova. After Wednesday's loss, Kournikova denied that she has ever been romantically involved with..."

"...Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer confirmed earlier reports that President Bush has added Bermuda, Portugal and North Dakota to the list of rogue nations that pose a threat to the security of the United States. 'The President will protect American interests wherever they are threatened. Time is running out for Saddam and his henchmen, including...'"

"...Yankees pitcher David Wells, who was fined $100,000 last week for what the club called 'tarnishing the Yankee image' in a tell-all autobiography. We caught up with Wells at the Ace High Bar in Fort Lauderdale, where he was taking a much-needed break from his spring-training duties. 'Sure. That's right. I was drunk when I pitched the perfect game. I was drunk when I proposed to my wife. And when I visited those crippled kids in the hospital. I was drunk when I signed my contract. Hell, I'm drunk now. And if you don't like it, you can shove...'"

"...three-quarters of a cup of extra-virgin olive oil..."

" ...combined with the acquisition of quarterback Jake Plummer, will once again make the Broncos a force to be reckoned with. Since the retirement of John Elway, the team has floundered, but Jake the Snake is just the kind of weapon the Broncos need to..."

"...attack North Korea. Rumsfeld told reporters the Korea crisis is still on hold, but that Pentagon officials are keeping a close watch on dictator Kim Jong Il.... 'I'll tell you one thing. That little four-eyed midget better watch his goddamn step, or he'll get exactly what's coming to him...'"

"...a grant from Exxon Corporation and the generous support of viewers like you. And now, episode thirteen of our series on the role of basket weaving in the Shang Dynasty of ancient China. As dawn broke, the noble Shang king, Liu Ku, worshipped by all the citizens as the Son of Heaven, determined to take his revenge on..."

"...Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova..."

What state is this? North Carolina? For the first time since the Chauncey Billups era, the University of Colorado (20-11) men have earned a spot in the NCAA basketball tournament, while amazing Colorado State (19-13) slipped into the Big Dance like a burglar working a basement window.

At the same time, the CU women's team accepted their eleventh NCAA bid in 21 seasons with the usual grace. Ceal Barry's 22-7 Buffaloes know all about hosting a dance. Thing is, they wouldn't mind stepping all over Brigham Young's feet. The Cougars visit the Coors Events Center for Saturday's first-round game.

The last time CSU's men's Rams got a taste of March Madness, in 1990, George Bush I was in the White House, and a UNLV team led by forward Larry Johnson won the national title by blowing away Duke 103-73. As it happens, long shot CSU got into this year's 65-team field by upsetting UNLV 62-61 on Saturday night to steal the Mountain West Conference tournament title. The Rams' first-round opponent on Thursday? Duke.

Does fourteenth-seeded CSU have any chance against the Blue Devils, seeded number three in the West Regional? Probably not. But seven-foot center Matt Nelson gives opponents fits, and the Rams are thrilled to get their shot at the three-time national champions.

The CU men, a ten seed in the South Regional, get 2000 national champion Michigan State on Friday: Bracketmeisters say the Buffs have a great chance of pulling off an upset and facing Florida in round two.

March Madness is not likely to last long in these parts. Even Mike Dunlap's admirable Metro State Roadrunners, winners of two of the last three NCAA Division II championships, will not move on this year. On Monday night, they lost a double-overtime thriller to Nebraska-Kearney, which ended their season at 28-5.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Bill Gallo
Contact: Bill Gallo