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Marg-Ins College Hoops, Crazy Karaoke
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March Madness remains in full swing ... even though it's now April. And for the first time in many years, we didn't have one of those yes-it's-not-legal-but-everybody-does-it office pools for the NCAA basketball playoffs. No picking the Cinderella team to pull the upset; no dumb luck draw of some obscure squad that makes it through to shine at the end. Strangely, I miss it, even though college basketball is one of the relatively few sports I don't follow that closely.

Now, give me the Sharks (Pacific Division champs!) or the Giants (no Barry to distract us this year) and I can give you a pretty good idea of what's going on with them. But the game of basketball, whether it's college or the pros, has not been able to hold my interest for any great length of time. Don't get me wrong, I love to cover it at the high school level - sports are always better viewed in person - but I never got into watching it on TV.

So it kind of surprised me when I tuned in that first day as the round of 64 was just starting and the local ESPN radio station was doing a marathon broadcast of game after game after game. It was riveting. I couldn't bring myself to change the station. It didn't hurt that there were several close games, a few even needing overtime to decide the outcome. And the radio broadcasters just work harder than your average sports play-by-play team. Since you can't see what's happening, they paint the picture for you and it was so entertaining, I thoroughly enjoyed listening. Even if I don't have any teams specifically to root for, it was fun just the same.

Spring break has also come to a close so now the kids will be back in school and things can get back to normal. Having a child off school for a week tends to throw a monkey wrench in things. Thankfully, due to the kindness of friends and assorted relatives, my 12-year-old was kept quite busy; her social calendar was full for the week. It included, among other activities, a visit with some friends in Escalon for a day of video games, music and fun. They roped me in when I went to get her and what I thought would be a relatively quick stop before heading home turned into a nearly three-hour marathon of karaoke, rock band and watching the kids rack up the points on guitar hero. My daughter wanted me to play the drums on the rock band video program, since I was a drummer in school. But you have to hit whatever color drum on the little set in front of you when that color appears on the TV screen and only hit the bass pedal when the line goes all the way across the screen and ... well, it's just easier for me to keep the beat all the way through. So I just grabbed the drumsticks and used the cushioned couch arm for my drum set. It worked much better; I could keep up the beat on a consistent basis and hit my imaginary cymbal in time to the music.

It was also the first time - ever - anyone has gotten me to sing karaoke. It's a little degrading when the on-screen audience treats you like you're on American Idol after every phrase you sing. I had my share of 'lousy' in there but at least there were a couple of encouraging passages. I never did reach 'star' status but I did get a couple of 'good jobs' thrown my way.

We all had a good laugh over each other's performances and it really pointed out the fact that I need to confine my singing to the time when I'm in my car. All alone. With the windows rolled up. And no one around for a few miles.

But perhaps the funniest, and most satisfying, part of the evening was when my daughter and I were headed home, a couple of hours later than I intended, and the 18-year-old called me with what sounded like a little bit of panic in his voice, asking where was I at and when was I coming home because I was supposed to be home two hours ago and didn't I know what time it was and etc., etc., etc.

I just had to smile that the shoe was on the other foot ... and he was calling to check up on me for a change. Now that was March Madness.

Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.