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Ice, Ice, Baby 

Charlotte's own rinka-dinka-doo

Good ideas, ideas that are creative and challenge the prevailing thinking on what is and what isn't acceptable in a given setting, ought to be encouraged at every turn. I know, not exactly an original idea in its own right, but bear with me.

Think about what downtown Charlotte needs most. More parking, some might say. New government leaders, perhaps, or more ground-level commerce in the form of places people can shop after they sample some of our fine restaurants.

Or maybe... an ice skating rink!

WBT, I salute you, even as you're quickly becoming Fox News South with your back-to-back programming of Rush Limbaugh and conservative "thinker" Jason Lewis. Yes, your Holiday On Ice idea is a grand one. So what if there are more effective ways to spend the money? So what if no one's going to compare the makeshift rink with Rockefeller Center? It's a bona fide curio, something to help uptown foot traffic. And who's kidding whom? At five bucks a pop -- or, in my case, about a quarter per every fall -- it's a good deal besides.

Yes, things don't always have to make sense to make sense -- or cents. Let's hope some downtown movers and shakers learn from this little experience in progressive thinking. Sometimes skating on thin ice only adds to the fun.

If you own a television, odds are you've seen the infamous Pacers/Pistons "basketbrawl" footage of a couple weeks back. The predictable gnashing of teeth followed, with radio, TV and print outlets reaching to put the whole sordid event in a larger context: the disconnection between the rich professional athlete and the average fan, the breakdown of societal mores, and the plight of the Young Black Male.To which I say: poppycock. To which I might also add: People always have, and always will, do all sorts of stupid shit. What did this whole fiasco tell us? It tells us Ron Artest and a couple of his Indiana Pacers teammates are hotheads. No more, no less.

This year, the Charlotte Bobcats and sports radio station WFNZ teamed up for the second year of their "Street Turkeys" food drive for underprivileged folks. Outside of the station's stadium-side hangout at the corner of Mint and Morehead, the WFNZ/ADT "Doghouse," Mark Packer hosted his Prime Time radio show with a host of professional athlete guests like Bobcats guard Keith Bogans and Panthers lineman Jordan Gross. (Why the station calls its party headquarters the "Doghouse" is a mystery to me, too. Then again, professional athletes cavorting in "cathouses" is probably not something league commissioners want to hear about anymore.)

This year's event was said to have raised over $30,000, as well as a couple truckloads of fresh turkeys and a few donations from the Bobcats and individual athletes. Which is important to remember in the wake of Artestapalooza. People are people, and if we gave more valuable column inches and TV time to those folks working to do good in the world, we'd be better off as a result. Bad news may travel fast in this day and age, but good news is what those in the biz call an "evergreen": good year-round.

After the Carolina Panthers' last-second 21-14 victory last Sunday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fans partied in parking lots and bars long after the game's 4pm close. Players and fans alike made mention of how much the team's recent three-game winning streak reminded them of last year, when the team went to the Super Bowl.Can I say "poppycock" twice in one column? No? Well, let me lapse into coach-speak and drop phrases like "it is what it is" and "we have to take each game one at a time." I will say that both the team and its fans once again seem to believe the old "on any given Sunday" maxim, which always makes for exciting games, and victories against arch-rivals like the Bucs can only help confidence. Whether or not we make the Super Bowl (hell, the playoffs) is certainly up in the air at this point. However, for such an injury-decimated team to dust itself off and make a go of it shows that there are at least a few professional athletes out there who care about doing what they get paid to do: Play with effort and heart. As the sellout crowd on Sunday proved, a little belief -- even in the midst of a losing season -- goes a long way.

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