Happy birthday, Dolly! (Parts of)You don’t look a day over 35!
To say I love Dolly Parton is an understatement; my affection for her is as exaggerated, tacky, and unabashed as the woman herself. Only someone as lovable as Dolly could get away with being that outrageous, nipped, tucked, stuffed, and in any other scenario, downright ridiculous. But that’s what we adore about her. Why? Because, in addition to being sassy as a sista from the south side, Dolly is incredibly self-deprecating, a trait that will forgive almost any flaw in my book. Dolly will be the first to admit that she looks “just like the girls next door, if you happen to live next door to an amusement park.” I often wonder what the inside of Dolly’s house must look like; in my mind, it’s a drag queen’s Graceland, with sequined walls, faux fur carpeting, and swags of lace streaming from the ceiling. And for some reason, it probably all smells like fake hair. My old college roommate and I are still planning a trip to Dollywood, which, judging by the way Dolly sells it in the commercials, must be the most fun place ever. Seriously, try not to smile during a Dollywood commercial…it’s impossible!
My Dad is a huge Dolly Parton fan. Growing up, my family would always give him a hard time for it because of Dolly’s, well, obvious attributes, and I always found that odd…not because my Dad may have liked her for those reasons (please), but that everyone felt so comfortable discussing those reasons when it comes to Dolly. In the buttoned-up bible belt stretch of central Kentucky, as I’m sure you all know, there isn’t a lot of talk about women’s assets in public, and definitely not around children. But with Dolly, it’s no holds barred. At church? Plenty of time to get in that joke about Dolly’s cans before the sermon starts. Waiting in line at Baskin Robbins? “I’ll have two scoops of vanilla…you, big scoops, like Dolly’s!” Everyone feels comfortable making jokes about Dolly’s boobs; it’s like they’re so big, they’ve become asexual. Maybe that’s why she keeps making them bigger…
The only thing more fantastic than Dolly’s exterior is her interior. I’m not a fan of country music (despite living in Music City), but Dolly’s “Jolene” is easily one of my favorite songs. Her performance in “Steel Magnolias” was severely underrated, and I’m proud to say I’ve seen “Straight Talk” enough times to quote lines by memory. This new movie she’s in with Queen Latifah? I have no idea what it’s about, but bet your bottom dollar it’ll be on my Netflix queue. It may sound odd, but I consider Dolly a role model; she’s a smart, confident, funny woman of many talents. Despite looking like the complete opposite, Dolly is one of the classiest acts in the business, and knowing her, she’ll have one heck of a 66th birthday. Cheers to you, Dolly.
With that out of my system, let’s move on to the news and views…
— The better part of Wednesday was spent reveling in the Cats’ blowout of Arkansas. Prior to the game, much of the fanbase was feeling a bit of malaise after so-so wins over South Carolina and Tennessee, but the Cats stormed back in style on Tuesday night. The squad shed its passive, error-prone coat and stretched their legs, clearly not bothered by Arkansas “40 minutes of mild humidity.” The performance was heartening for a number of reasons: the Cats handled the press with ease; players who needed confidence boosts stepped up and got them; and they didn’t let off the gas until the very end. Also encouraging is Kentucky’s 38-26 rebounding edge, an area in which they had struggled the past few games. The Cats played cleaning and efficiently, capitalizing on opportunities while minimizing turnovers; yes, the comfy confines of Rupp Arena helped, but it’s hard to find many faults in their win Tuesday night.
— Pick a player, give a compliment. Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Kyle Wiltjer and Darius Miller all showed renewed aggression against the Razorbacks, but, aside from Anthony Davis, it was Marquis Teague’s performance that impressed me the most. (Okay, that sentence alone should show you how stocked this team is…sheesh.) Teague looked as though he was taking Cal’s lessons to heart, focusing on creating plays for his teammates rather than himself. He finished with seven points, nine assists, two steals and three turnovers. Calipari called his performance “unbelievable,” praising Teague’s patience, control, and defensive presence. I expect a few more growing pains along the way, but Tuesday night was a big step forward in Teague’s progression.
— In the aftermath of his record-breaking game against Arkansas, the sports world couldn’t get enough of Anthony Davis on Wednesday. The guys on “Around the Horn” debated whether or not Davis could be a NBA franchise player, with Michael Wilbon arguing that Davis will have the same impact on the NBA that David Robinson did coming out of college. Davis’ dominance as of late has drawn comparisons to Marcus Camby, another Calipari pupil, and Chad Ford of ESPN predicted Davis could end up being better than the current Portland Trailblazer once in the league. Davis is invaluable to this team, making plays and cleaning up errors on both sides of the court. Cherish every minute he’s in blue, because it won’t last long.
— Well, Kevin Stallings must be sad, because Taco Bell is sold out of Beefy Crunch Burritos. On Wednesday, Vandy’s head coach whined to the media because Kentucky doesn’t have a Thursday-Saturday combo in SEC play and Vanderbilt does. Stallings complaining about this when his team doesn’t play Kentucky for almost another month marks another victory in his campaign to be the whiniest coach in college basketball history. Watch out Coach K, you’ve got competition.
— Remember Devonta Pollard, the number two small forward in the 2012 class? Today, his AAU coach told Adam Zagoria that Pollard was arranging visits to Texas and Kentucky, with his trip to Austin coming up this weekend. Pollard, who is also considering Mississippi State, Alabama, Marquette and Georgetown, says the Cats have contacted him “several times this month,” but that his recruitment was still “wide open.” Like other late signees in his class Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett and Amile Jefferson, he plans to sign in the spring after basketball season is over.
— After charming the media with wins over Kentucky and Ohio State, Indiana got another cold, hard slap of reality with its third loss in a row on Wednesday night. The Hoosiers lost to the mighty Cornhuskers of Nebraska, 70-69.
— Meanwhile, darling Murray State remained undefeated, with a 66-60 victory over Morehead State. Morehead put up a fight, but came a bit short, leaving the Racers’ 19-0 record unblemished. Keep it up, boys; I’m planning on making the one mile drive to watch Murray State play in the OVC Tournament in March and I like perfection.
— If sports writer Jeff Pearlman didn’t know the power of the Big Blue Nation, he does now. On Wednesday, Pearlman tweeted “I would rather my child not attend college than play for someone like John Calipari.” As you can imagine, an angry Big Blue backlash ensued, and whereas most would cower in the corner, little Jeff struck back, spending a good part of the day responding to UK fans’ tweets before changing the subject to Mitt Romney’s tax returns. That’s an odd use of time for a man who turned down Matt’s request to come on the radio to talk about it because it was “just a stinkin’ tweet.” Lesson learned?
That’s all for now. We’ll be back before you know it to talk all Cats everything. Matt and company hit the ‘waves at 10 a.m. Maybe they’ll play this classic Dolly tune…