Friday Vid

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen. I haven’t been able to cobble together a playlist this week, so only a video for this Friday. But it’s an epic one. Believe it or not – given it was only 1982 – but this was the final Queen performance in the US. And their only appearance on SNL. Despite losing his voice that day, Freddie Mercury was in fine form. This was a solid A- performance until the band decided to rip everything up and rock out for the last two minutes. 

Reader’s Notebook, 10/16/18

I’ve been on a sports book tear the past couple weeks. Football, futbol, and golf.

Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times – Mark Leibovich
This book, by The New York Times Magazine’s chief national correspondent, arrived with nearly endless praise about a month ago. Promised as an investigation to the troubles the NFL faces in current times, it delivered as something perhaps not so comprehensive but way more fun than I expected.

First off, Leibovich does not cover all that ails the NFL. He does hit the biggest topics – kneeling for the anthem, concussions and other crippling injuries, ownership-player relations, the length of games, Jerry Jones, how the game presents better on TV than in person, Trump – but most of his time is devoted to issues surrounding his beloved Patriots. And, most importantly, Roger Goodell’s role in the game and how he has used those powers with respect to the Patriots.

Leibovich admits up front that the Patriots are a joyless, likely soulless organization and its fans are a collection of insufferable Massholes. Still, he goes to lengths to show how the Patriots may not be as evil as the rest of the world believes them to be, and how Goodell may have abused his powers in order to win favor with the rest of the league by aggressively pursuing investigations into the Pats’ activities.

I think some of that is garbage, although I was on-board from the beginning that Deflategate was stupid and largely a waste of everyone’s time.

What makes those parts of the book work is how Leibovich never hides his fandom but also never comes across like Bill Simmons, whining about how his team has been persecuted. He points out how the Pats have, indeed, done some shady shit over the years. He struggles with rooting for a team that, to a casual observer, can come across as evil much of the time.

Leibovich turns great access – he has a couple meetings with Brady and Kraft, goes to several owners’ events, and even gets wasted with Jones in an RV – into insightful observations about the state of the league. He cuts through a lot of the distracting bullshit the league dispenses to get folks not to think about the real issues facing the game. And he always does so with immense humor. Much of the book is laugh-out-loud funny, whether Leibovich is making fun of himself, Trump, Jones, or any of the other book’s many unsavory characters.

I don’t know that this is necessarily a required book to understand the state of the NFL today. But it’s a damn fun read.

Encyclopedia Blazertannica – Roger Bennett & Michael Davies
Bennett and Davies host the Men In Blazers podcast and TV show, both of which focus on the English Premier League. I’m, at best, casual consumers of both of those, just catching an episode here and there. But I always find them deeply funny. So I figured why not cruise through their encyclopedia? It is filled with definitions of all they find important to modern soccer. And it is filled with both humor and insight. A fine book to flip through over the course of a week during commercial breaks in games.

A Course Called Ireland – Tom Coyne
I’m not really sure what’s wrong with me,[1] but this is the second book I’ve read this year about someone walking around Ireland. No, I have no plans to ship off to the Emerald Island and walk its perimeter any time soon.

Unlike Round Ireland with a Fridge, where Tony Hawks traveled counterclockwise while toting a tiny refrigerator with him – and generally accepted rides from strangers – Tom Coyne took the opposite path. He began on the west coast and traveled with the clock, hitting golf courses along the way to play a “round around Ireland.” Over four months in 2007, Coyne played over 4500 shots on both some of Ireland’s most famous courses and many more that no one outside their communities had ever heard of.

Where Hawks’ trip was based on a drunken bet, Coyne’s grew from a golf trip to Ireland his father had taken him on when he was a teenager. Having already spent an entire year failing to qualify for the PGA tour, Coyne thought the perfect next golf challenge would be to do Ireland on foot to attempt to tap into what was so magical about that trip from a decade earlier. And as a true Irish golf course plays best when walked, why not walk the entire journey?

He does take a few strategically placed taxi and train rides along the way, and jumps into a car a couple times to get lifts from strangers. But, for the most part, he sticks to his Keene’s and does his best to avoid distracted drivers, mis-marked short cuts, flocks of sheep that block the road, military firing ranges, and aggressive – possibly diseased – dogs who approach him.

Another difference in the books is that where Hawks was a comedian, Coyne is an English professor. Hawks’ observations were a little rougher. Coyne’s writing is beautiful and moving, whether he’s describing a course that clings to the cliffs on the edge of the Atlantic or relating an evening in a pub where, one-by-one, folks drift in to join a session of traditional Irish music and song. Thankfully the book as just as much of the later as the former. No matter how well you write, there are only so many ways to describe a golf course in prose, especially when you have to describe 36 different courses.

Both books relate the magic of Irish society, how strangers are always welcome with open arms and a fresh pint. Both authors run into people along the way who have been waiting for them to arrive, having followed their travels in the media. In Hawks’ book, that amazed me, that an entire nation would be locked into the same media outlets enough that he would always run into someone who was aware of his journey. Coyne, who went to Notre Dame, points out that Ireland is roughly the size of Indiana, which I did not know and makes it more understandable that a random story like this could bubble into the national consciousness.

So if Ireland and Indiana are about the same size, maybe I could walk around Indiana with either a fridge or golf clubs next summer!

  1. Friends have been wondering this for years.  ↩

Weekend Notes

Finally a (fairly) easy and relaxed weekend.

No cross country for the first time since August. Coincidentally Saturday morning was the day one of C’s cross country coaches hosted his annual fall get-together. He’s a real estate agent – actually the listing agent on our new home – so he invites lots of clients in addition to friends and St. P’s families. So it was a pretty big gathering. The XC parents stood around in the fall chill and commented on how different it was from last Saturday. Granted, the party was in the morning and last week’s meet was in the afternoon, but there was a 40–45 degree difference. Wacky, wild stuff.

I don’t believe I shared that two weeks ago our furniture for our outdoor entertaining area arrived. I also had a handyman come help install a TV mount above the fireplace out there. A week ago I watched some of the night time football games out there in shorts, a t-shirt, and with the ceiling fan running. This Saturday afternoon I sat in jeans, a sweatshirt, and with the fireplace on. And I was still cold. It’s going to be very Midwestern if we get like two weekends to use the outdoor area between the heat and humidity of summer and the snow and freezing temps of winter.

Sunday L had her second basketball game. They again won easily – 26–11 I think and it was never close – although it was a little more work than last week. The fourth quarter was especially rough. Neither team scored until L got a steal and layup with under 10 seconds to play. The other team had a thuggish girl that was literally tackling people on breaks but never getting called for it. By the fourth quarter I think our girls were either afraid of her or just wiped out from all the running and shoving.

L had a better game, scoring 8 and actually converting a few layups. She had some more steals and made a couple decent passes. She got a little too cocky with her dribbling, though. She tried to crossover in front of a girl three times. On the first two, the girl didn’t bite and nearly got her hands on the ball. The third time she ripped it out of there. After the game I told L she can’t cross over when people are right on her. She said next time she’ll try to dribble between the defender’s legs. Good Lord…

While we were at basketball M and S were at Cathedral high school for M’s entrance interview. S was in the room with her during the interview and said M did very well. That girl does love to talk so I doubted she would have any trouble. Later in the day I asked her how it went and she shrugged and said, “OK, I guess.” When I asked what questions they asked her she wrinkled her face and said, “I don’t know, why would I remember that?” Yep, we’re going to spend more a year on high school than my parents spent on my first year of college and she can’t remember a few questions she was asked three hours earlier.

Friday Playlist

“Full Disclosure” – Line & Circle. Fall has finally arrived. We were pushing 90 earlier this week – with the heat indices well above 90 – but suddenly this morning it was below 40 and people were scrambling to turn on their furnaces. The next week promises only one day above 60. Mother Nature is a bitch… Perfectly timed is this song, which may hew a little too close to early R.E.M., but still fits the mood of the season, when the days get shorter and thoughts get a little more wistful. 

“The Flowers Beneath Your Feet” – Laura Carbone & The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Keeping it in the fall vibe is this dreamy, shoe-gazey gem. Carbone opened for TPOBPAH on their most recent tour, and they sat down to write and record this song together after. You would think they had been recording together for years based on this track.

“Spit” – IAN SWEET. IAN SWEET is a band, not a man, thus, I guess, the all CAPS offering of their name. I don’t listen to 90s music nearly as much as I do 80s music these days. But when I hear a song like this, that recalls the best of the middle part of that decade, I’m all for cranking it up.

“Panic Attack” – Liza Anne. Steven Hyden put Anne’s album, Fine But Dying, on his list of near-great albums you may have missed over the summer. He was right, it is a really good piece of work. However, I’ve struggled with what to share from it because it is filled with a bunch of B+ songs, but there is no great, centerpiece song that stands out. I finally picked this, one of my favorites, but like so many others comes up just short of being something I throw into my Best of ’18 working list.

“Eyes to the Wind” – The War on Drugs. Yeah, I know I’ve shared this one before. But it fits the moment and YouTube keeps wanting me to watch it again.

It fits the moment because, back in 2014 when the song was new, I was making a quick grocery store run right around dusk on the last night of summer when this song came on. The air was warm and heavy, but the earlier sunset was a reminder that winter wasn’t that far away. I also believe that was the first time I noticed the song had some strong elements of Bob Seger’s music in it. I found some irony and pleasure that I was driving a large Chevrolet automobile listening to something that recalled Seger. Forty years earlier on the last night of summer, there were probably plenty of dudes driving around in Chevys listening to Seger with the windows down. When the weather changes, I always think of this song.

As for the YouTube thing, I guess I’ve watched this video a lot because no matter what I’m watching on YT, this will always be sitting over in the right column as a suggestion of what to watch next. Doesn’t matter if I’m watching another music video, a sports highlight, or something completely different, there it is. So a few times a year I click on it and I’m sure that keeps it over there. 

There’s so much to like here, but by far the highlight is the ridiculous guitar solo that begins at the 3:55 mark. Adam Granduciel has a whole closet-full of epic solos, but, man, this one gives me every single feel. He plays so hard he knocks his headphones off, which is kind of fresh. 

Usually after watching I check out their Austin City Limits performance of the song. The audio isn’t as good, but it has the added bonus of adding an outrageous sax solo that kicks in at the 4:30 mark. 

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 14

Chart Week: September 27, 1986
Song: “Heartbeat” – Don Johnson
Chart Position: #14, 6th week on the chart. Peaked at #5 for two weeks in October.

The history of pop music is riddled with vanity projects by actors, comedians, athletes, and others in the public eye who decided to leverage their fame in other mediums in an attempt to get a hit record. The 1980s in general, and 1986 in particular, were thick with these songs. Early ’86 brought us Eddie Murphy’s album. Bruce Willis recorded his The Return of Bruno album in ’86, although it was not released until early 1987. Eddie’s music was ok; he could clearly carry a tune but, as I recall, there was nothing special about his voice or his songs. He came across as being careful, offering fairly generic music that could get airplay on both white and black stations. There was always a sense that if Eddie really wanted to throw down, he could have done something so much better than this.

Willis’ album was also rather generic. His sound was exactly what you would expect: that of a guy who, after a couple drinks grabs the mic and leads a band and gets away with it because he has the most charisma in the room and his voice isn’t great but it’s not terrible either so, hey, let the guy sing a couple songs…

Smack in the middle, in the late summer of ’86, came Don Johnson’s Heartbeat album, fronted by this title track. I’ll hear this song once or twice a year and always laugh. I laugh at 15-year-old me, because, as I was into all things Don Johnson at the time, I loved this track. I laugh at America, because we bought this shit up, pushing the record to #5 and snatching up half a million copies of the album. I laugh at the lyrics, which are pretty terrible:

I don´t care what you say
You can give it away
Your money don´t mean much to me
I´ve been out on my own
Going to go it alone now
Cause that´s the way it´s got to be

I laugh at the track’s production, which has every element of bad, mid–80s pop rock in it.

And I laugh most at Johnson’s vocal efforts, especially on the song’s verses, where it sounds like he came straight off the Miami Vice set and started reciting lyrics as he would lines on the show. And now, after doing some research, I laugh at what Johnson said about the album upon its release.

“I didn’t want it to sound like something that other people designed and I just stopped by for a few minutes to do the vocals. And I made it clear to Walter that I would walk away from it if I didn’t think it was credible. I was prepared every step of the way to throw it away and walk away."

That’s some beautiful, first-class bullshit there.

But here’s the thing…his vocals on the chorus are pretty solid. I mean, there’s not much to work with lyrically. But he throws himself into those words and shouts them out much better than you would expect him to. He’s no Springsteen, Bryan Adams, or Kenny Loggins for sure. It’s not totally terrible, though. Which, I suppose, makes the song a success.

The song’s video was perfect for the era, too. Just look at Don prowling around the stage in his silk shirt! That’s Dweezil Goddamn Zappa playing some kick-ass, cheeseball guitar! The headless bass is beautiful. And if you have an actor singing, you have to throw in some segments from a “mini-film” that don’t really make sense but make grandma and grandpa say, “Oh, yes, I remember this young man. He’s on that Miami Vice program. Isn’t he married to that actress, Melanie something-or-other?”

Oh, and holy shit!: Don Johnson was not the first to record this song. Helen Fucking Reddy first recorded it in 1983. That’s right, Don Johnson decided to cover the lady who sang “I Am Woman,” “Delta Dawn,” and “Angie Baby,” all of which went to #1 in the early 70s. I’m not sure how that all came about but it’s more than a little insane.

Weekend Kid Sports

This was a weekend of sports endings and beginnings. And waitings, too, I guess.

C wrapped up her cross country season with the annual City championship meet. Once again it was hot and humid for the biggest meet of the year, which is always an afternoon meet to avoid high school sectionals. I will give her this: she might fuss and worry about the conditions on hot days, but she almost always powers through where other kids wilt.

Again, for the fourth-straight year, she ran her fastest time of the year at this meet. For the third-straight year, it was good enough to get on the awards podium. For the second-straight year, she claimed 16th place, this time out of 114 runners. That’s a lot of streaks!

I was actually worried about her before the race. She ran decent times all year, and placed in every event for the second-straight season, but it also felt like she plateaued a little this year. As nice as that consistency was, she never busted out that really fast run like she had done in the past. On several race days, she showed signs of nerves and discomfort before her run. So, Saturday, I really had no expectations for her to do well. I figured it was hot, she seemed off in the morning again, and there was a huge field to run against. I was just hoping she broke 14 minutes for the first time all year.

She ran a really solid race. She was in the medal group the entire, and improved her position steadily. She passed a girl in the closing stretch to bump up to 16th, which was a nice way to finish the year. Her time of 13:47 was her third fastest ever. Ironically, or strangely, she still hasn’t come close to the ridiculous 13:13 she ran as a fourth grader when she finished 6th at the City meet. Last year’s City time was 13:24. That course brings out the best in her, although she seems to be getting slower on it.

Anyway, it was a good ending to a strange year. We had two meets washed out by storms. Two other meets were in brutal heat. Kickball kept her from practicing more than once a week most of the season. But her five runs earned her 9th, 19th, 5th, 10th, and 16th place finishes.

CYO does not mess around. The day after cross country ended, girls basketball began.[1] Yes, CYO girls basketball is a fall sport for some reason. I have really never understood why. Volleyball is their winter sport, but the boys’ volleyball and basketball seasons run in parallel in the winter.[2] Weird.

Yesterday was L’s first ever CYO basketball game. She has a huge team – 11 players – so their coach decided to run them out in waves, subbing every three minutes. That worked out pretty well yesterday. They got off to a 24–0 start, which I think is pretty good. It was 26–1 at halftime. Apparently he told them to stop stealing and pass five times before shooting in the second half, so the final was only 30–4. Soft…

L had a decent game. She had a bunch of steals. She had a couple assists. But she missed at least 853 layups. She was back into her old habit of going too damn fast and chucking the ball off the backboard so hard it has no chance to go in.

Her highlights, though, were destroying people off the dribble. She was blowing by people on the perimeter. She had a crazy crossover that damn near made the girl guarding her fall over. And she, somehow, went between her legs and left a defender in the dust. The best part of that was they were playing a school that is from a little more urban part of the city: their roster was about three-quarters black girls. When L was juking people, there were several “WHOOOO!!!”s and “DANG!”s from our opponents cheering section. L noticed. After the game she said, “I heard people saying ‘WOW!’ when I went between my legs!”

As I was congratulating her coach following the game – he and I coached this group together last year – he said something, jokingly, about was she ever going to hit a layup. She quickly had an answer, “See, dad, you need to get me a basketball goal!” Our new driveway isn’t ideal for a hoop so we’ve done our best to put that purchase off. Later she asked me if it was ok for her to dribble between her legs during games. I told her as long as it helps her make a basketball move that is necessary, sure. I have a feeling it was kind of an accident yesterday and now she’s going to try it again and start turning the ball over.

Oh, and the game was the general chaos you would expect. You could tell our girls have all been playing together for three years. The other team…well, I’m not sure any of those girls had played an organized game before. There was a lot of grabbing the ball and walking, uncertainty about how to inbound the ball, and so on. I told L after the game not to expect other teams to struggle as much as Sunday’s opponents did.

As for the waiting, Sunday worked out better for us than we had expected. L was also supposed to have a soccer game, which was to begin one hour after basketball. Our plan was to play basketball as long as we could, then run over to the soccer field. Fortunately, the soccer team was going to be missing three girls because of fall breaks, so we decided to forfeit that game.[3] We figured playing at least one girl down – and perhaps more if someone else didn’t show up – and then with two girls coming from basketball was going to make soccer ugly. Especially in the heat. Sadly we may have to forfeit next weekend, too, as we know three girls will be on fall break.[4] That’s kind of a bummer. There’s supposed to be a tournament at the end of the season, but we don’t know any details about that. I’m hoping we get to play at least one more game with this group of girls.

  1. Although some of the older girls had preseason tournaments last week.  ↩
  2. Along with wrestling.  ↩
  3. Seriously, fall breaks suck.  ↩
  4. Fucking fall breaks…  ↩

Friday Playlist

“Heaven” – Late Bloomer. I’ve been meaning to share this song since July. It’s a big, crunchy, aggressive song that would have fit right into alternative rock radio in 1996.

“Apocalypse Now (& Later)” – Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers. LJG’s announcement that she was transgendered and would be transitioning tore her previous band, Against Me!, apart. A few members of the band could not deal with her changes. She has been performing solo for the last several years, but this new band, which features two former members of Against Me!, seems to be her new home. This song has a sense of warmth and peace, which I hope is a sign that her life is more settled than it has been since she first came out.

“In a River” – Rostam. A beautiful song from the former Vampire Weekend member.

“Comeback Kid” – Sharon Van Etten. After four years away – a period in which she earned a degree in psychology and became a mother – SVE is back with this song. It is a complete kick in the ass, as it is bold and fun and unlike anything she’s ever done before.

Reader’s Notebook, 10/2/18

Righteous – Joe Ide
I was a big fan of Ide’s debut novel, IQ, which I read earlier this year. I was very pleased to read an interview with Ide in which he confirmed he would continue writing about the lead character, Isaiah Quintabe, aka IQ, the Sherlock Holmes of south central Los Angeles. I did not know he had already published his second book in the series until I saw this on the shelf at the library.[1] I snatched this right up as soon as I saw it.

As with most series, Righteous refines familiar territory. IQ and his reformed criminal sidekick Dodson investigate the disappearance of, hang on, the younger sister of the ex-girlfriend of IQ’s murdered older brother.[2] The missing sister is in deep gambling debt; running with an idiot, good-for-nothing boyfriend; and has crossed not only the most vicious loan shark in Vegas but also the Chinese Triad crime syndicate. IQ and Dodson face a supreme test of their wits trying to solve the case while dealing with pressures from two sides.

This storyline is layered with IQ’s continuing search for the killers of his brother. Ide brings these two storylines together at the end for a somewhat messy if satisfying end.

For most of the book, I was not enjoying it as much as I enjoyed IQ. However, there was a moment about three-quarters of the way through, where I saw what Ide was trying to do. Rather than move the broader story forward, instead this book was very much about still establishing a base for how to build on IQ and Dodson in the future. Both have to make sacrifices to choose to work together and create a permanent professional relationship. It was that “Alright, ok, I get it now…” moment that salvaged the book for me.

In each of his first two IQ books, Ide has flipped back-and-forth between two storylines that compliment each other but are also distinct. I’m eager for him to drop that technique in his next book and focus on one, tight, central story.

Star of the North – D.B. John
Setting a novel in North Korea presents an author with many freedoms and restrictions. On one hand, it’s the most isolated country in the world, and our rather limited impression is of a very strange nation. For an author, that means you have a tremendous opportunity to create settings and characters, as we have no idea what the country is really like. However, I think it also makes writing difficult, because it can be easy to drift so far from reality that the story seems more like science fiction or fantasy than whatever genre you were planning on writing within.

D.B. John has an advantage over most of his readers: as a Brit – he was born in Wales – he has visited North Korea. Although his access was incredibly managed while in the country, he has actually seen the streets of Pyongyang. Also, he helped Hyeonseo Lee write her accounting of her escape from North Korea, The Girl With Seven Names.

Here he writes a story of espionage and international intrigue. And does so successfully. His story is centered on three characters.

Jenna Williams is a brilliant professor at Georgetown, daughter of an African-American former serviceman and a Korean mother, who is haunted by the presumed death of her twin sister, who disappeared from a beach in South Korea while studying there. Dr. Williams is recruited by the CIA and eventually brought into negotiations with a North Korean delegation where she meets our second major character, Cho, a high ranking member of the North Korean delegation.

Cho has risen to the highest levels of the North Korean ruling body, but has deep misgivings that something bad is about to happen to him. He becomes a hero to the nation after his forceful speeches during meetings with the Americans. But upon his return home, his life quickly falls apart as suspicions are cast upon his family’s background.

Finally there is Mrs. Moon, an elderly woman living in a North Korean penal community who struggles to make a living selling food and other commodities on the black market. She becomes a voice of resistance and protector of those the state wants to crush.

Eventually the three characters are brought together. Williams, who always believed that her sister was still alive, learns of a North Korean program that kidnapped South Koreans and Japanese from beaches using submarines. When she and Cho meet in New York, she confronts him with questions about her sister. Upon his eventual fall from grace, he smuggles information to her about the abduction program, a program to sneak spies into the US, and the truth behind the North Korean missile program.

Cho and Moon connect in North Korea’s most notorious prison camp, where they learn that Moon is Cho’s biological mother. After months of extreme torture, during which Cho refuses to confess his “crimes,” it is Moon who nurses him back to health and gives him the will to live.

The book comes to a very interesting and satisfying finish – including an alternate explanation as to how and why Kim Jong-Il died in 2011 – while also leaving some of the big questions it offers unanswered. This is a first-rate novel of espionage and modern politics. It is both a ruthless accounting of the evils of the North Korean state and a story filled with heart and the belief that the human will is impossible to crush if people can cling to hope.

  1. And his third book is due out in a week.  ↩
  2. That’s a mouthful.  ↩

Weekend Notes

To get the week rolling, I’ll knock out a variety of subjects in one post.

First, apologies for the lack of a playlist or video last Friday. We added one, final task to phase one of our home improvement process and that was getting wrapped up on Friday. I have to say, our house looks pretty fantastic now. A week ago Friday our living room furniture arrived. It was nice to have that but after our designer “fluffed” everything Thursday and Saturday, it has transformed from nice to spectacular. She did an amazing job and our house feels like it came out of a design show. Now to keep the kids from ruining it…

C ran last Thursday night. It was a small meet, so we were all hoping for higher placements by our kids. C was fourth much of the race but faded and finished 10th, running right about the same time she’s run all year. This coming Saturday is the City championship meet where she’s run the two fastest times of her life. I hope she has another big run in her and can place for the third-straight year.

L had two soccer games over the weekend. She scored two goals in a 3–2 loss Saturday. She ripped an absolutely vicious shot that the goalie got her hands on and pushed just over the bar that could have tied it. Sunday she was held scoreless in a nervy, 2–1 win. We were playing a team filled with 5th graders, some of whom go to St. P’s, and we gave up their goal in the first two minutes of the game. But our defense rallied, our other top player scored two before halftime, and we hung on for dear life in the second half.

L went scoreless largely because she had her first nasty soccer injury in the first half. She took a clear to the inside of her knee that knocked her out of the game for about 10 minutes. She was able to go back on when another girl got hurt – we had only one sub to the other team’s five – but struggled to get move.[1] We started her on defense in the second half and once she was able to loosen the knee up a little, she begged to go forward again. That kind of made me laugh because she clearly wanted nothing to do with playing on the back line. She was never really right the rest of the game, but this morning she was fine other than a really nasty bruise and cleat marks on her leg.

M had the big, milestone family event of the weekend: we submitted her application for high school Saturday night. She decided to go through the early admissions process so that she will find out whether she gets into Cathedral the week of Thanksgiving instead of early February. We’re pretty sure this is all a formality. She has good grades and test scores, and has a parent, aunts and uncles, and a grandfather that all went to school there. Still, we wanted her to take the process seriously. There were three essay questions that we worked with her on. She kept giving us sarcastic answers when we gave her prompts on how to improve her initial efforts. I threatened at least once to send her to a public high school. Or to submit her dumb-ass answers and see what the admissions committee thought of them. She got her act together and we were able to push Submit Saturday evening.

She cheered on Sunday and I was talking to a couple other dads about the process. One has had two go through it already. He said with their oldest, they were also anal about getting everything just right. Then, when they saw some of the other kids who got in, they eased way off for the #2. “I think as long as you can pay tuition, they’ll let you in. There’s one kid I know had straight F’s at St. P’s who got in.” He may have been exaggerating a little.

There’s still more to do. We have to submit grades and state test scores once her first quarter grades are in. She has to get two letters of recommendation from teachers, which she is dragging her feet on. And she has to go through an interview with the admissions folks in two weeks. But the ball is rolling and the first tuition check for high school is not too far in our future.

Finally, having nothing to do with kids, a few words about the Colts. M was cheering during most of the game but I was able to listen to a big chunk of their comeback on the way home, and then watch all of overtime. When the Colts lost because they went for it on fourth down with 27 seconds left inside their own 45, I texted a couple friends and said they had just set a record for the dumbest loss in NFL history. Just take the damn tie and move on.

But, you know what? I’m reconsidering that today. What the hell are the Colts playing for this year? Nothing. They will not make the playoffs, even given the surprising effectiveness of their defense so far this season. Andrew Luck had a monster game yesterday; if they had converted that fourth down and then he moved them up into field goal range, he would have been within shouting distance of 500 yards passing for the day. But he’s still not 100%, and if he ever can be again, it won’t happen this year. The offensive line still sucks. The running game and receiving corps remain suspect. This is a team that is at least one more good draft and free agency class away from being a playoff contender.

So why not go for it? The game is, basically, meaningless. If you convert, get another 20 yards, and Adam Vinatieri drills a game-winner at the horn to cap off an 18-point comeback, this becomes a mythical game. It becomes the moment everyone points to in a year – or two or three – when the Colts are playing for an AFC title again, as the turning point for the organization.

As it stands, the loss means nothing. It doesn’t set the Colts back in their rebuild. It may even help them earn a better draft position next spring. And, apparently, the players loved it, so it helps to bring a team together that had been struggling for several years.

Not saying I would have made the same call in the same situation. But I don’t think it’s as terrible a call as I did in the moments after it happened.

  1. Worth noting that Dr. Mom did take a look at her and pronounced her fit to play before we sent her back in.  ↩