Enlightened Bracketology

Posted March 07, 2007

Finally it's March. February’s out and we can get onto the serious business of ... gambling. Sure, I should write "ordering seed catalogues for the garden,” something food-ish and wholesome like that. But come on, March Madness!

The NCAA tournament starts next week, Do you have your bracket ready? I don't, either. But Bill Yosses does.

A little background: During the NCAA college basketball tournament every March, the 64 best teams in the country play each other to eliminate 32, then 16, and so forth until only the Final Four are left. The last one standing is the champion. Before the tournament kicks off next week, fans can make their own brackets – handy charts mapping out those 64, 32, 16 teams, and so forth (/sites/default/files/lick here for an example). Those who guess every team correctly can win prizes .

Bill Yosses, the White House's new pastry chef, is one of 101 experts recruited for a hilarious new book, The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything. Authors Richard Sandomir , a sports columnist for the New York Times, and literary agent Mark Reiter had the great idea of asking specialists like Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings and cartoonist Roz Chast to design brackets. (Jennings created a bracket on game-show catchphrases; Chast on comic-book characters. For more, see Slate.com's feature on the book next week.) Yosses did one on cooking tools, pitting the rubber mallet against the vegetable peeler, the pastry bag against the Silpat nonstick baking mat, the cookbook against the rolling pin; the winner is the ultimate cooking tool. Having gotten a sneak peek, I must say I have issues with his choice for the victor. I won't spoil it for you, but in my opinion the chef's knife belongs in the Final Four, if not taking the cake. But like I said, I haven't done my bracket yet.

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