This past weekend was the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight of the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament of Insanity. This is the weekend that separated the wheat from the chaff. Although, ever since I went low carb, I’ve been a real chaff guy. I put it on everything. I mean they just give the stuff away.

Sorry, I just wanted to prepare you for how odd this one might get. Anywho, I like both rounds of the tournament, but I’m really into the Sweet 16. Like, chaff-level into it. There are enough teams that it recaptures some of the rat-a-tat-tat games-coming-at-me-from-all-angles fun of the first weekend, yet I can also focus in on each matchup better.

This past weekend also put us smack in the heart of bracket season. The public just can’t get enough brackets. I love bracket season even more than early fall–when I can layer up and walk amongst the chaff. In honor of this magical time, I created my own bracket. This sixteen team tournament is made up of my favorite aspects of life-related to the number 16. You may be asking yourself if there’s a point? To that, I’d say, BRACKETS! And yes. You’ll just have to find out who wins. 

Let’s get to the matchups.

#1 Getting my driver’s License vs #16 King Louis XVI

Like most 1 seeds vs a 16 seed, this one isn’t really that close of a contest. The Sun King is certainly a major historical figure, sure. Not every monarch can say they ruled for 72 years. In fact, no other monarch can say that. Versailles is as impressive as a residence gets, France had unquestioned military might, and he was a proponent of the arts. Still, he may have bankrupted France and he really has no bearing on my life other than when I had to read about him in high school.

Getting my license, on the other hand? Impactful. Getting to drive my parent’s minivan alone was a major moment of freedom. It was a right of passage. I could get to friends’ houses or the movies, without being reliant on rides. If anyone had wanted to date me, I could have done that too. It was just me, the Van Morrison Greatest Hits cassette tape and the open road. I still love to drive winding country roads. 

The license speeds off to a big lead for the win. 

#8 16mm film vs #9 Peja Stojakovic

I wanted to choose the best basketball player to wear the number 16. Pau Gasol was my initial thought, but he was a part of an emotionally crippling NBA Finals in 2010, when his Lakers beat my team, the Boston Celtics. I still cringe inside. There are some other historically great players to don the one-six. Al Attles, Jerry Lucas, Al McGuire, Tom Sanders, and Steve Novak. Still, I had to put Peja Stojakovic in this spot. He was a player ahead of his time; a tall man who bombed threes. His claim to fame for me though, was that he was the most unstoppable force in the video game NBA Street. The game gave athletic boosts to the standard stiffs and when added to that size and shooting ability, he was absolutely lethal. 

Shooting in 16mm film adds that Cinema Verite touch, which means it is obsolete. The format does get some love now and then for its grainy texture and nostalgia factor. Christopher Guest’s use of 16mm is probably why it got this high a ranking. Peja wins easily. 

#5 UMBC vs #12 The Letter P

In 2018, the University of Maryland Baltimore County stunned the basketball world by upsetting the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers. It was the first time this had happened and it was completely flummoxing. You might call it madness. I remember flipping over to the game and watching in awe. 74-54 is not a fluke. That’s a whooping.

Tough to imagine life without the letter “P” though. The sixteenth letter in the alphabet, is irreplaceable. I love how a well-enunciated “P” can really punctuate a word. Think of the proliferation of powerful proverbs that would be pulverized. Sure, we could lose it from a pterodactyl. That isn’t enough to sway me. “P” moves closer to the pinnacle.

#4 16” pizza vs #13 Sulfur

Sulfur is number sixteen on the periodic table. It smells like farts.

A 16-inch pizza does not smell like farts. Hopefully. Some call it a large, some call it an extra-large, I call it delicious. I could eat pizza every day–I honestly believe that. After all, there are so many types. Every single pizza commercial ever has made me hungry. Easy win. 

#6 Joe Montana vs #11 Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

There are sixteen different personality types associated with the Myers-Briggs test. Subjects can answer a series of tests to see where their preferences lie along four basic dichotomies. First published in 1944, some believe that the identification of certain personalities can be beneficial in understanding the way we interact with the world. Some believe it’s a load of junk or at least not a real psychometric instrument. I think any insight into our tendencies or proclivities can lead us on a path to self-discovery.  

Joe Montana is a WWWW on the NFL test. Winner winner winner winner. Just to annoy my mom, a mental health professional, I’m going with Joe. 

#3 16 Days Campaign vs #14 My Age When I Met Sasha

I was sixteen years old when I met Sasha Klare-Ayvazian, the founder of this here website. We went to a Quaker-based summer camp in Vermont together. Our lives have rotated in similar circles ever since and I couldn’t be happier that he let me come aboard this project. I love all that MMH stands for and am excited for all that it will become. Thanks, friend.

**Tone shift warning**

I had not heard about the 16 Days Campaign before doing my research for this article. Please go check out their website. The campaign, started by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, advocates, organizes, and coordinates global activism to eliminate Gender-Based Violence.

In their own words, “it aims to increase awareness of GBV, ensure prevention, and demand accountability for ending gender-based violence and discrimination in all spheres.” Thousands of organizations partner through the campaign to hold every level of leadership, from local to global, accountable for ending GBV. Since 2018, the subset focus of the campaign is on violence towards women in the world of work. As we begin to understand the challenges of returning to work at this stage of the pandemic, I feel like this is vital. Gender-Based Violence and harassment have mutated right along with the COVID strands. We need action. I want to lend my voice as an ally. Thank you for letting me get serious for a moment.

I think Sasha understands that this is the clear winner. 

#7 Hexadecimal System vs #10 Sixteen Candles

John Hughes was crushing it in the 80s. His IMDB page from 1984 to 1990 is just one giant fire emoji. The man defined a decade, a generation, with his screenplays and movies. Sixteen Candles was his directorial breakout. It was like the LaMelo Ball rookie year of movies. Undeniable flaws, but flashes of true magic. One of those flaws is the character of Long Duk Dong. It is messed up, no debate necessary.

The Hexadecimal system is something about computers that I don’t understand. I like computers. I’m using one right now. This feels like the right way to go. 

#2 Balvenie 16 vs #15 Chess Pieces Per Side

Chess really had a moment earlier on in the pandemic. Queen’s Gambit was as accurate a depiction of the game as has appeared on screen. At least that’s what a nerd told me. I like the pieces and there are sixteen pieces per side at the start of the game. After one Hartsfield Feint, I’d already be down to fifteen. I have been planning to teach my daughter chess soon so that that can be our thing while we get food at the diner. I had that idea before the show. At least now, I know that spooky basements and drugs are more conducive to learning the game. You can pick up parenting tips in the weirdest places.

One piece of parenting advice I always give is to enjoy the little things. Like, when things are finally quiet, drink a delicious scotch. And Balvenie 16 Triple Cask is truly a delight. An unmistakable flow of vanilla on the tongue settles into an easy, easy finish. Notes of fruit pop and dance to and fro with toffee. Oh, it’s so good. I’ll teach my daughter checkers, the scotch wins. 

And that finishes the round. I will blitz through to the end now. 

Elite Eight

  • My license beats Peja. Peja never drove me anywhere.
  • I know you can’t spell Pizza without the letter “P.” However, you could call it dog turds and I’d still eat it. 
  • Joe Montana loses hard to the 16 Days Campaign. Please donate or get involved if you can. 
  • The Balvenie beats the Hexadecimal. I’m more of a binary guy anyway. (I don’t know if those are different.)

Final Four

  • 16” Pizza wins over my license. I’d crawl for a slice right about now.
  • 16 Days bests The Balvenie. 

The Finals

Come on, is it really a question? 

Activism can take many forms. There are an overwhelming amount of problems in the world. My goal is to try to do one little thing whenever I can. Those little things building into a big thing. Like this bracket. I had a lot of fun putting it together. Being creative while weaving a message through one’s work is a great way to start a conversation. So if you want to talk pizza or politics with me, let’s start that conversation. Hit MMH up on social media or in the comments. 

In the meantime, thanks to the real Sweet 16 for the hours of escapism. That is important too. And thanks to the Elite Eight for ruining my bracket. I got so close. Long live brackets!!! 

Have a great day.