Around the Hardwoods with Wild Bill

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by Bill Turner

High school tournament play has reached the regional level and for our local teams the troops are beginning to dwindle. Here’s a quick look at who’s still standing on the road to Richmond.

At press time, in the Northwest Region boys, Patrick Henry remains in contention, although Mother Nature may play the spoiler. The Patriot’s home game Tuesday night against C.D. Hylton was postponed when snow disrupted Hylton’s trip from Woodbridge. PH now potentially faces three games in four nights.

The Lord Botetourt girls are still in the mix in Region III Division 4, while no area teams remain in Division 3.

Hidden Valley was the big winner in Region IV Division 4 with both the boys and girls winning Tuesday night. The girls were set to play Carroll County Wednesday while the Titan boys took on Abingdon. The Salem girls were facing a Wednesday showdown with River Ridge foe Pulaski County.

In Region C Division 2, the Glenvar girls and boys remained in the pack heading into Wednesday night’s games.

With basketball winding down on the high school level and baseball still a few weeks away, the opportunity presents itself for the Wild One to give you readers my periodic take on the state of the economy. As gas prices rise, the discretionary dollar for sports gets squeezed, so we look at what to expect.

I’ve never understood how they calculate the Consumer Price Index or Gross National Product figures. I’m not even sure anyone knows the formula, except to announce a number and simultaneously have people on the stock exchange floor go wild as the Dow soars or plummets a couple hundred points. Then, a talking-head economist explains it has something to do with a storm in the Indian Ocean or a poobah in Kuwait pulling the plug on my gas station.

I prefer the hands-on approach, so the Wild One paid his quarterly visit to Valley View for your RSS economic update and a layman’s look at what’s going down on the Roanoke scene.

First stop was a major department store where I got a look at spending habits and how retailers are handling the discounts. Right away I saw red flags as I happened upon a guy checking out a sales rack offering an aggressive promotion on my favorite clothing brand, Polo. The sign said 50% off original price- then, above that one, the word ‘clearance’- take an additional 50% off. To me, if you take half off, then take half off a second time, you should be getting the item free.

After clearing this rack of items in my size and proceeding to the register with what I felt was a windfall, the reality hit. A lot of scanning, register button-pushing and seven shopping bags later, the clerk informed me my total was 632 dollars. After the girl explained taking 50% off twice was like taking  75% off once, I cancelled the whole transaction, resulting in another series of scannings and a comment from the clerk in a foreign language that didn’t sound like “we appreciate your business.” Obviously, this pricing gimmick tells me retail sales are still sluggish. You shouldn’t need an abacus to buy a pair of pants.

At this point, I decided to investigate what the analysts call ‘big-ticket items.’ Since Valley View doesn’t have a car or boat dealer, I reverted to the next best thing in the luxury category – pianos. Whenever I see a piano or a harp, I always think of a Marx Brothers movie, so choosing a piano store may have been a faux pas on my part from the start.

Having never taken music lessons of any kind, this was unchartered territory for me. But, I felt anyone could expand their horizons amid the world of pianos. Unfortunately, the encounter got off on the wrong foot.

I was wearing one of my old Roanoke Express warm-up jackets, and when the salesman asked if I played, I laughingly responded ‘no, not anymore.’ By the disgusted look on his face I finally realized he was asking if I played the piano, not hockey. This is where I blew my chance. Once I said ‘no’ again, I was no longer a hot prospect for one of the baby grands. I should have firmly extended my arm, said yes, and introduced myself as Wild Bill Liberace. The whole store would have been at my fingertips.

I tried to ask a few piano-related questions, like what do you call the top of a piano and why the piano top, when raised, has two height notches. Neither inquiry impressed this guy, so I decided to move to the bench and bang out a few notes. That is until I saw the list price on this monstrosity was $17,000. I wouldn’t have dished that out if they threw in lessons, a candelabra, sequined jacket and Liberace. Bottom line – no other customers the whole time I was there, so the luxury items are moving slowly. I give the Wild Bill Economic Index a C- for the first quarter with negative bias due to rising gas prices.

Hang in there folks – economic improvements or not, Spring sports are on the way!

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