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Crystal ball view of a whacky '08


   By Tony Ahern
   Publisher
   Sure, it's easy to do a year in review. But here at the Pioneer, we occasionally like to do a year in preview, to showcase some of what we have to look forward.
   Here's a month-by-month account of what we can expect in 2008 ... or not.
   January - The community of Madras is giddy with anticipation over the opening of their beautiful new aquatic center. No longer are we going to be the largest town in Oregon without public swimming facilities. But then, sometime during the myriad of kickoff events and ceremonies for the center, an embarrassing fact starts coming to light: None of us knows how to swim.
   February - Green Bay beats New England in the Super Bowl, proving that all is right in that whole Good vs. Evil thing.
   March - Madras has exchanged mantles, from the largest town in the state without a swimming pool, to the biggest without a movie theater within 26 miles. Until now. It's announced that the Sage & Juniper Cineplex is going up on the north end of the Palisades Shopping Center. The plan is to have it open in time to host the world premiere of "The Management," partially filmed in Madras in 2007.
   Jennifer Aniston, still smoldering over the bogus report in the Star magazine that claimed she despised being in Madras during filming, announces that she'll come to town for the premiere, and "even cut the ribbon thingy" for the grand opening. The paparazzie immediately start booking local rooms.
   April - Work turns fast and furious for the 15th annual Collage of Culture. Organizers promise it will be the best to date, more hot-air balloons than ever, bigger and more colorful too, and the most famous headliner. Who might that be, the media asks. "We could tell you, but then, you know, we'd have to remove your brain," say organizers.
   May - It's Collage Saturday. It's rainy. Not just that misty haze of wet, but cats and dogs style. So befuddled that their event has once again coinciding with the wettest weekend of the year, organizers move about the fairgrounds with distant, glassy stares. Eventually they're rounded up into the Keeney Building and placed under a "rampage alert" by authorities.
   (Not really. Collage '08 will be great. Sunny, temps in the 80s. Huge crowds. Perfect. Really. Trust me. I did hear who the headliner might be ... but mysteriously blacked out shortly thereafter, so I don't know if I really heard it or not).
   June - School's out. The early summer clamor of kids saying "there's nothing to do around here" that has rung for decades is missing. Traffic on B Street is nuts. Swim, swam, swum. Had they'd known it was such fun, Madras would have voted in a swimming pool a half-century ago. The kids are glad voters waited, though, as this modern pool center is the coolest thing in Madras since, well, ever.
   July - It's hot. The fair brings in the Dixie Chicks. They put on a great show, until the lead singer stops mid-song and says, "You know, that Huckabee guy ain't so great either." Just when Republicans were starting to really not give a rip about the Dixie Chicks, they raise the ire of the GOP again by slamming their presidential nominee. It becomes known as the Chicks' Madras Mess-up, gets them (and Madras) back on CNN, and their music is banned from all Christian music stations. The ban from classic rock, top 40 and talk radio remains intact.
   August - It's smokey and hot. At 10 a.m. on show Saturday, after trying every year, the airshow finally gets its jet flyover. At 15 seconds after 10 a.m., show organizers look at each other, each thinking the same thing: that was fast.
   September - When a date suddenly opens on its independent football schedule, Madras High hurriedly tries to fill it. Culver notices they have a bye that Friday, and suggests, "We'll play 'ya." Madras figures, "What's the worst that could happen," then finds out.
   October - Call it Taco Two, or Revenge of Tacoby Bellsbury. Jacoby Ellsbury puts the second Taco Bell World Series Steal a Taco For America promotion to bed early. He lines a single up the middle to lead off the bottom of the first inning in Game One of the Red Sox-Dodgers World Series. He then steals second on the second pitch, winning a second taco for America.
   November - After pocketing the Rookie of the Year and World Series MVP honors, Ellsbury films an ad for Taco Bell, for their new "Take Two" promotion. It shows Jacoby, in uniform and cleats, buying a taco, then quickly jumping the counter and stealing a second off the rack in the kitchen, then head-first sliding out the drive-through window while, mid-flight, managing to grab a large Pepsi from the stunned young girl in a headset.
   "But Jacoby, don't you know?" she calls after him. "You don't have to steal. The second taco is free when you buy the first."
   The ad gets so much airplay that, by Thanksgiving, even Madras and Red Sox fans are weary of it. But it's so successful for Taco Bell, quadrupling their taco units sold for the quarter, that the corporation builds an Ellsbury-themed Taco Bell in downtown Madras in his honor, providing Free Taco Friday in perpetuity to all local residents.
   December - The Sage & Juniper Cineplex (could there be a worse name?) opens just in time for the world premier of "The Management." But Jennifer is a no-show, leaving MC Rick Allen to ad lib. It's later learned that Aniston spent premier night at Madras Bowl, as a fill-in during Friday Mixer league action.
   "Honestly, I just wanted to come back to Madras and bowl," she said through her publicist once back in L.A. "Bowling during the filming was the most real, pure fun I'd had in years."
   The Star covered the event with a photo of an angry Aniston, probably taken four years ago, and a perplexed Allen at the movie house, with a story under a headline that screamed: "Aniston still hates Madras."
   But most of us take the whole Aniston affair in stride. By the end of the year, we're swimming, watching movies and eating free tacos. All in all, a pretty great 2008.