Friday Vid

Just a video today, as we have a variety of contractors in-and-out of the house today.

“I Melt With You” – Modern English. Fall begins just after 4:00 today here in Indy. So of course we’re in the midst of the hottest, driest stretch of the year. Cross country practice was cancelled last night and Sunday’s meet as been moved up two hours to keep the kids out of the heat. Lawns are burning up all over the place. I felt like I was going to melt at L’s soccer practice Wednesday and all I was doing was playing some light goalie while the kids shot. Crazy to think that, back in early July, we were something like 12-inches over normal for rain. We’ve had almost none since then.

Is There Anybody Out There? Anybody At All?

Well this checks a few boxes for me.

General 80s nostalgia
80s pop culture and political sub-categories
Nuclear obliteration
And Kansas City/Kansas references

Yep, The Day After was a pretty big deal. And, perhaps, as relevant today as it has been for nearly 30 years.

The Day After traumatized a generation with the horrors of nuclear war

My favorite family story about The Day After was of some college friends of my parents who lived in Lawrence when the movie was being filmed. They showed up for the open casting calls but weren’t selected. They found out where they were filming one day and drove their VW back-and-forth on the nearest street with the 4-year-old waving every time they passed, hoping to show up in the background of a scene. When the movie finally aired, they were disappointed not to see themselves out of focus behind John Lithgow.

The videos embedded within this story are definitely worth your time, too.

More Kid Sports

Kickball is done.

As you should recall from last week, L’s team had to finish a game that was mysteriously cut short by their opponents, then play that team again in a full game. Sweep the game and they would go onto the City championship. A split meant a tie-breaker playoff game to settle matters.

In the suspended game Friday, we got a run in our half of the sixth to push our lead to 13, then got out of the bottom of the inning unscathed to secure the first win. That was the highlight of the day, though. We got absolutely trounced in the full game. It was 20–1 after two innings. We righted things a bit to keep from getting run-ruled, but still lost 40–17. We couldn’t kick, our defense was atrocious, and our girls just weren’t into the game at all.

Last night was the playoff game. I was really wound up on Friday but was pretty chill last night. I figured the second game was probably more true-to-form than the first, so was just hoping we could keep it close. We had a 5–3 lead in the second, and two outs on defense, before we made a couple misplays and suddenly were down 8–5. That was pretty much the game. We left the bases loaded without getting any runs the next two innings. In the fourth we gave up six runs with two outs. It was 14–5 going into the sixth. We got two runs but ended the game with a force out at home.

Here’s the thing, though: this was almost definitely our girls best game of the year. We had girls up-and-down the line crushing the ball. We just kept crushing it right at defenders.[1] L almost killed a girl in the first inning with a line drive, and only got a single out of it because the ball ricocheted right to the pitcher. Their pitcher caught at least six liners, and their suicides kept nailing our girls at home when we loaded the bases. On defense we were outstanding, those hiccups in the second and fourth aside. We had two 1–2–3 innings. We held their best kicker, who kicked four home runs Friday, to just one. The only thing we didn’t do well was run the bases. While St S’s girls were making turns and being aggressive, our girls kept stopping. We probably left 3–4 runs at third because of that.

St S averaged nearly 40 runs a game in their five regular season wins. We held them to 14 twice. I was really, really proud of our girls after the game. It would have been great to win and go to City, but I thought they showed a ton of improvement. We had a group of three or four girls who should be able to blast the ball but can’t quite do it yet. If we get those girls kicking the ball hard, that can turn a good team into a really good one. And hopefully beat St S in the spring.

L ended the season with a team-high seven home runs. The only games she didn’t kick a homer in were our two losses. St S had girls at the corners who were not afraid of the ball and knocked down her low-liners. She kicked four balls yesterday that would likely have been homers against weaker teams. Instead she went 3–4 with three singles. Yesterday she played part of the game at suicide and part at first, swapping with another girl. Those two were awesome together, getting a combined eight outs. Whoever was up front was making perfect throws and the girl at first made the catch every time.

On our way home she asked if we would practice between now and the spring season. I told her we could kick today if she wanted to.

“No, I mean the whole team, not just us.”

I like the way she’s thinking!

OK, it was a big cross country Saturday so a quick update on that.

Man, was it hot. I talked to one of the XC coaches Friday and we agreed there would be no PRs set the next day, as the forecast was for it to be hot and humid and it was an afternoon race. Mother Nature did not disappoint: it was pushing 90 and the sun was blazing all afternoon.

C surprised us a little, though. She didn’t set a PR, but she did run her second fastest 3K ever. More importantly, she helped her team win the team title.

When the race started we were more concerned with whether she would stay in the top 25, which was the cutoff for ribbons.[2] After the gun, we walked out to the midpoint to wait for her. When she came through, she and her buddy were together at 28 and 29, a little back from two of the St P’s sixth graders.[3] Right when she passed us she made a move and passed four or five girls before they disappeared back into the woods.

We ran down nearer the finish line to watch them come in. Our sixth grader who won the first two races of the year was well ahead of everyone else again. Then we started counting. The next St P’s girl didn’t come in until #12. I figured the next sixth grader would be right behind her. But, no, it was C on her heels! Running hard and putting space between the girls behind her. She came in 14th, at 14:15, which was awesome given the heat and humidity. Over a minute slower than her insane time at City a year ago, but still good enough for her second fastest 3K by about 20 seconds.

She was the fifth 5th grader to cross the finish line. More importantly, she was the third St P’s girl, so she was in the points. She even placed ahead of one of her sixth grade teammates who had been well ahead of her a week ago. St P’s top four – the girls who claim points for the team – finished 1st, 12th, 14th, and 15th, which was good enough to easily win the team championship. They got a huge ass trophy for their performance. At practice last night they had a special presentation with the assistant principal and this morning they took pictures with both principals and the main priest. Now they have three weeks and two meets to prep for City, and a chance to take home another trophy.

  1. Full credit: St S played great defense. But this was the best we kicked, as a team, all season. Including the games we scored 40 runs.  ↩
  2. This is one of the biggest races of the year, thus the deeper threshold for ribbons. Also it’s the only non-City Championship meet with a team competition.  ↩
  3. The pattern this year has been three sixth graders are the first three St. P’s finishers, then C and her buddy E are some combo of 4th and 5th.  ↩

“I Want To Find What Can’t Be Found” – A Deeper Understanding Review

I’ve been listening to The War on Drug’s A Deeper Understanding nearly non-stop for almost a month now. Yet, I’ve been struggling to put some thoughts about it together to share here. I love the album, so it should be easy to write about, right?

Turns out I’m running into the same problem that I think Adam Granduciel faced when he began recording this album: how to deal with the legacy of the LP that came before it.

2014’s Lost In The Dream was a classic album. It was at or near the top of just about every major critic’s Best Of list for that year. It’s my favorite album of the decade so far, and one of my 10 favorite albums of all-time. It was a perfectly constructed album: a tremendous opening track, followed up by the band’s biggest radio hit; an absolutely massive song in the middle, two more radio-worthy songs, and one of the greatest final tracks ever. There wasn’t a throw-away song to be found. It also documented Granduciel’s personal issues at the time the album was recorded beautifully. It was all about being in the depths of romantic depression but beginning to find the strength to kick back toward the surface of being a normal human being again.

Granduciel took an interesting path on A Deeper Understanding. He didn’t try to top Lost In The Dream or take his band in a new direction. Rather, he took much of the soul and sound of Lost In The Dream and worked to perfect those elements.

In terms of pure sound, I will accept arguments that A Deeper Understanding might match Lost In The Dream. This is an amazing sounding album. Three of the greatest guitar solos of the current era are on this album. Album opener “Up All Night” could have been rescued from a lost Miami Vice soundtrack with its shimmery synths and heavily processed guitar solo. “Pain” would be the best song of the year, with the best solo of the year, were it not for “Strangest Thing,” which nudges it out in each category. “Thinking of a Place” is a wonderfully arranged piece that makes you forget it checks in at over 11 minutes long. And “Holding On” is the one song made with an ear for radio, where I’ve been hearing it on a fairly regular basis.

Lyrically and emotionally it falls short of Dream, though. It lacks that centered sense of loss and despair that made up Dream. I think Understanding recalls TWOD’s 2012 disk, Slave Ambient, which had a more general sense of unease and longing. Granduciel’s lyrics are often hidden, but I found many of them on Dream to be excellent. Here the vocal are as up-front as any he’s recorded, but some of them aren’t very strong to begin with and others sound a bit recycled from older songs.

I have to admit I was also ever-so-slightly disappointed by the album simply because the five singles released in advance of the entire disk are the five best songs on it. There was no “OH SHIT!” song waiting for me on my first full listen. Three of the “new” songs are still quite good, but two songs I’m just not that into.

Those are minor quibbles, and ones that are perhaps more apparent simply because Lost In The Dream was such a flawless album. A Deeper Understanding is easily my favorite album of the year, and it will take something massive in the next three-plus months to knock it out of that spot. It closes a magnificent, three-album run for TWOD. Slave Ambient was a surprise to me, with its combination of heartland rock and ambient, electronic sounds. It was an announcement that the band was ready for the big time. Lost In The Dream confirmed Slave’s promise and was, for all the pain that went into creating it, the album most artists spend their entire careers yearning to create. And Granduciel did it on his second full-length disk! A Deeper Understanding doesn’t break any new ground, and thus to me feels like the end of a chapter for the band. They’ll tour it for a couple years, take a break, and likely spend another year working on their fourth LP. I expect that’s when we’ll hear The War on Drugs take things in a different direction.

This was indeed a tough album to write about. Reading back, my words may be a bit too harsh, or make it seem like I don’t really like the disk. That’s definitely not the case. A Deeper Understanding is a fantastic album. It’s just an A- where Lost In The Dream was an A+.

Friday Playlist

“Plimsoul Punks” – Alvvays.

Man, this song is just so good. Power, jangle pop with just a hint of shoegaze in the background. Perfect.

“Strangers Kiss” – Alex Cameron and Angel Olsen.

Something about this song feels straight out of 1981.

“Rained On” – Frightened Rabbit.

A surprise three-song EP dropped today from my co-favorite band. The entire thing feels perfect for fall, more restrained and folky than most of their music. This song hints at busting loose, but never quite gets there. I like it a lot.

“Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely” – Hüsker Dü.

I admit, I was never a HD fan. As much as I love/admire Bob Mould’s post-HD music, I’ve never gone back and dived into his original band’s music. As you likely have read, the other creative half of HD, Grant Hart, died yesterday after a long serious of health issues. So I spent about 30 minutes listening to some of their music yesterday. Of the Hart songs, this was the one that most jumped out at me.

“Could You Be The One?” – Hüsker Dü. 

OK, this is a Mould song, and I believe I’ve shared it before, but it deserves re-sharing today. The Today Show visited Minneapolis in 1987 and, somehow, decided HD would be a great live musical guest. The story I’ve read about this performance is that the band was pissed NBC only have them of few seconds of live air time, so they decided to just keep playing. So, as you see Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley signing off for the day, HD is blasting away in the background. If what I’ve read this morning is correct, they just kept playing for about 45 minutes. Much to the delight, I’m sure, of people throughout downtown Minneapolis. Punk rock, baby!

Big Ol’ Sports Notebook

I had hoped to wrap up the kickball regular season today. But Irma’s remnants turned yesterday into a drizzly mess, and our biggest game of the year was postponed. More on that in a bit.

M ended her season last week. Her team finished up 5–1 and claimed second place in their division. Just that opening game loss to their arch-rivals, who will no doubt crush someone in the City title game next week. M had a decent season. She kicked better at times. Sometimes she fielded well, sometimes she still got the hell out of the way of the ball when it whizzed by her. As always, though, she was excited to hang out with her classmates and be part of the team. Amazingly, late in the season, she was actually asking me to go out and practice with her. Maybe I get her to kick the ball through the infield by the spring season.

C’s season ended Monday in crushing fashion. They were out of the running for the division title, but were playing the team that was in first place. They played earlier in the season with C’s team losing by 7. Monday, C’s team controlled the game through the first six innings. They got the lead early, played great defense, and kept scoring enough to stay ahead. She had a three-run homer early in the game. Going into the 7th inning, they were up by 2 runs. Then came a total meltdown. They gave up 23 runs! It was brutal to watch, as they made mistake after mistake in the field. Bobbling the ball. Throwing to the wrong base. Turning their back on runners and letting the advance. Girls standing and watching while the ball rolled by them. Everything bad that could happen did. The other team didn’t kick a ball out of the infield and still managed to go through their order nearly three times. C’s team got two runs back in their half, but that wasn’t enough to even make it a respectable loss.

A week earlier C’s team played an amazing game against our big rivals St B’s. Both teams scored two runs in the first, and single runs the next two innings. And then it remained tied 4–4 all the way through to the seventh inning. Neither team kicked particularly well that day, but both teams were playing amazing defense. In the top of the seventh we got a runner on, moved her to second, and then got a ball through the infield to bring her around to take the lead. C made all three outs in the bottom of the inning and we had a 5–4 win. Normal games between good teams are still usually in the teens. You never see 5–4 games!

C was amazing in this game. She took three absolutely monster line drives off various parts of her body – she basically caught one with her lips – and the game had to be stopped so we could check on her. Once she shut off the tears, she made every damn play in the infield. She threw people out at first. She threw people out at third. She beat people running home. She caught at least four balls in the air. She didn’t do much at the plate, but her defense saved the day. After the game two of the girls from St B’s came over to check on her to make sure she was ok, which I thought was incredibly cool.

C made a big jump this year from good player to arguably the best player in her grade.[1] She’s still a little inconsistent kicking, but when she connects she can blast the ball on a line that is almost impossible to catch. As I’ve shared, she’s generally an excellent fielder. Her area to work on is true to her personality: she just needs to take a deep breath and calm down sometimes. You can see her getting worked up, whether by a bad call, an injury, or just the game getting extra stressful. She starts running around a little too fast, looking nervously around, unsure of her play. But, as an older brother of a teammate said, for the most part “C is a beast!”

Now for L. Through a schedule quirk, her team played the two weaker teams in her division two times each before they were set to finish the season with two games against the other good team. In their final game against a weak team, our girls played their worst game of the year. If they were older, you would say they overlooked St L because they had beaten them by 30 runs the first time they played. I’m not sure if 3rd graders think that way, though. Anyway, we were behind the entire game until L kicked a three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the 6th to win it.[2]

On to the final two games against St. S to see who goes to City. I watched the first two innings of the first game before I had to leave to get M to her game. While there L kicked her seventh homer of the year to tie it. Midway through M’s games I started getting texts that we had won by 12, but it was really controversial. All I heard that night was the other coach was kind of crazy and some of the St S parents were complaining about a specific call.

Then, the next day, I get a call from our head coach saying that the St S coach had pulled her team off the field at the end of the 5th inning thinking the game was over. The umpire asked her if she was sure, twice, and the coach insisted yes, she was done. I have no idea why she did this, and her story has changed a couple times since the game. Anyway, there was a call to the league office the next day from St S and we were instructed that we had to play the final inning of the game when we went to St S to end the season. Since a division championship is at stake, they want every game played to completion. Which I kind of understand. But, also, she pulled her damn team off the field! She gave up! Twice!

Yeah, the other coaches and I have had some interesting conversations about these events for several days now.

So last night was supposed to be the final night of the regular season for us. And then it rained. We’re still trying to lock in the makeup time, but it looks like Friday we’ll go out there, play an inning, take a quick break, and then play a full game. If either team wins both games, they go onto City. If there’s a split, we’ll have to play a tie-breaker game next week.

The good news is we lead by 12 in the “suspended” game, and we will kick first. Bad news is we’re near the bottom of our lineup. But if we can get some girls on and turn the lineup over, we have a great chance to really extend the lead. Good news is we played excellent defense last week and never let St S score more than 5 runs in an inning. The bad news is we had one 20-run inning and the rest of the game was kind of a struggle on offense. But I think we learned some stuff about St S’s defense that will help us.[3]

The best part of all of this was how everyone was pissed off about it. At cross country on Sunday I was suddenly in the middle of a group of parents who were asking, basically, “What the hell happened?!?!” Most of these parents don’t even have kids playing kickball, they had just heard about it through the school grapevine. St S allegedly had a couple crazy parents at the game last week. Their coach is an odd duck. The other coaches and I keep reminding ourselves to take deep breaths before the game when we finally play. Last night L told me not to worry, “We’re going to beat them.” Oh boy…

Oh, cross country. C ran her first individual race of the year last week. She ran kind of slow – I don’t think she practiced at all the previous week because of kickball – but still managed to take 13th in the 5th–6th grade race. That got her a ribbon. St P’s is really strong in this age group. There’s a sixth grader who has never run before who won the race by nearly two minutes! We had five girls place, which means they have a great chance to win City next month.

And, finally, L’s soccer season began Sunday. She scored two goals and they won, although we almost pissed the game away late when we had a couple kids in goal and on defense who were literally running away from the ball rather than trying to, you know, defend it. I’m helping coach this team so more about that later.

The interesting thing, though, is that for the first time ever L is not clearly the best player on her team. There is another kid who is freaking amazing. And he’s just a little guy, barely bigger than her. He’s so good that he’s playing on an older age-group team, too, and had to leave our game at halftime to go play with them. When he was on the field, we almost never gave up possession and could have scored about 20 goals instead of the five we had at halftime. And he’s not just a scorer. He’s an amazing dribbler and passer. He would get the ball, cut it out wide, see L in the middle, and rifle a perfect pass through traffic right onto her foot so she could immediately control it. Both of her goals came off passes he made to set her up. I really hope this kid plays a full 50 minutes for us each week!

  1. We have two 5th grade teams, so while I’m sure she was the best on her team, I think a couple girls on the other team deserve consideration for that honor, too.  ↩
  2. Third and fourth graders play six innings; fifth and up play seven.  ↩
  3. The guy doing our bathroom project has a girl on our team. Last Friday while his painter was doing some work, we talked for about 90 minutes on how to defend them better.  ↩

Looking Back

I wrote this yesterday, but forgot to post it before heading out for an afternoon of kickball.

I believe M is coming home with an assignment tonight to ask S and I what our memories of September 11, 2001 are. Her social studies teacher wrote her memories of that day on her whiteboard and shared a pic of it on Twitter, along with the warning our kids would be asking questions tonight. So, in between my normal Monday errands and tracking the remnants of Irma – hoping my in-laws’ home in Jacksonville will be dry and damage-free when they return from their European trip in a week – I’ve been thinking back 16 years.

I think most of our initial memories are of when we first heard what was happening, where we were, who told us, etc. And then how we followed the events of the rest of that morning until we all settled into a daze after the second tower fell.

As I think more about that day, I get to the evening. And the part of the day I keep thinking “Somewhere in here are the seeds for a decent novel,” but have never tried to hash out.

My evening of 9/11/01 was different because I was with a group of people that kind of went off the rails a little. That week was my employer’s annual conference that brought people in from all over the country. A group of us who worked together, but were scattered from Texas to Oregon, had planned a dinner on Tuesday for weeks. Despite the day’s events, the out-of-towners insisted on keeping our dinner reservation. Probably so they didn’t have to sit in their hotel rooms and watch the footage over-and-over.

We went to Manny’s, the now defunct Kansas City Mexican food institution. As I recall we all pounced on the pitchers of margaritas as soon as they hit our table. I’m pretty sure everyone was pretty well lit before we ordered our food. And we continued to hit the tequila hard. While the rest of the restaurant, which was serving a rather light crowd, was reserved, quiet, and somber, we were loud and laughing and likely obnoxious. I don’t remember anyone saying a word about what happened on the east coast, but instead carrying on just like it was any other night.

I also remember the other diners giving us looks. Not angry looks, but more “Why are they so happy?” looks. After making eye contact with a few people who appeared to disapprove of our revelry, I stopped looking around. Even in that moment I had a feeling that when this dinner ended and I went home, nothing might ever be the same again. If the other dozen or so people I was sitting with were down for a night of ignoring the horrific attacks for a couple hours, I was gladly along for the ride.

Things did get a little dicey as we made our way out of the restaurant. We were splitting the ticket so had to do that up front near the bar. We were kind of loud – a couple people could barely stand at this point – and President Bush was about to speak. Several folks at the bar loudly told us to knock it off. Those of us who were in halfway decent shape tried to shuffle the more impaired members of our group out the door to avoid things getting really ugly.

And then the night was done and reality hit.

Somewhere in there is a book, I bet. Maybe someday I’ll be able to find the thread that leads out of that night into a bigger story.
Two years ago C came home with a 9/11 homework assignment that was several questions to ask parents about 9/11. One of the questions was “How do you think life has changed in the US since 9/11?” There was a broad, poli-sci answer I could have given which was probably too much for a third grader. The answer I did give was that I didn’t think life had changed all that much. Airport security is different. No one close to me has served overseas, so I haven’t had to live with the fear of a loved one serving in harm’s way. And even then, I feel like the War Against Terror has always been in a distinct pocket in our culture. We get constant reminders about the troops, but I don’t think America in the ‘00s and ‘10s feels like a country at war the way it did during previous wars.

My answer might change if that question comes home tonight, though. I think Trump is a direct effect of 9/11. No, I’m not saying he’s a sleeper agent for al qaeda. While fear has always been a part of American politics, I think 9/11 both institutionalized perpetual fear and broadened its effects across the country. People were fearful, and rightly so, of the next attack, of anthrax, of anything that seemed a little hinky for quite a while.

Eventually, we settled down. Well, most of us did. But that fear remained strong in a significant part of the electorate, and eventually attached itself to things that had nothing to do with Islamic terrorism. The raw hatred for Barack Obama grew from this fear. The rejection of modernism, of science, of the progression of civil rights all grew from this fear. The Tea Party movement solidified that fear, both against Obama and more broadly against the modern welfare state, and injected it directly into our political process.

The blueprint was in place: if you say the right words loud and long enough, even if they have no basis in fact, you can mobilize an extremely angry and motivated segment of the electorate. Trump was the perfect – and only – candidate to capitalize on this fear. An empty, soulless man interested only in himself, who was willing to say, do, and attach himself to anything that moved his brand forward. He came along at the exactly right time, and against the exact right set of opponents, to blow that fear up into something that carried him to the presidency.

Make no mistake, not everyone who voted for him did so because of the wave of fear he capitalized on. But in US presidential politics, where mobilizing a tiny swath of the electorate can tip a national election, those folks who had lived in fear since 9/11 were the difference in Trump winning the White House.

Friday Playlist

A very special playlist this week. I don’t listen to a ton of 70s music – there’s some OG punk and very early new wave that sneaks in, along with a pinch of classic rock – as I generally skew towards 80s music when listening to the old stuff. But my love of music came from my parents always having music on when I was young. And their parents, too, for that matter. I don’t think any of my grandparents were huge music fans, but as the local radio station was a generic, 70s, Top 40 station, I still heard plenty of that stuff when I spent summers with them. I do have the 70s on 7 plugged into my SiriusXM favorites, and these are all songs I heard while flipping past it over the last week or so.

“Let Your Love Flow” – The Bellamy Brothers. Here’s everything great about AM pop radio in the 1970s: part country, part pop, it was a #1 hit in the spring of 1976. I dare you not to sing along to the chorus.

“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” – McFadden & Whitehead. Disco was dying, but its influence remained. This song has one foot in the disco world, one in more straight-forward R&B. #13 in 1979, it’s had a long life, being used as the theme song for several sports teams, in political campaigns, and on the Boogie Nights soundtrack.

“Running On Empty” – Jackson Browne. Browne is one of those artists who did not age well, at least at first. He fell into a certain category of music that was discarded as time passed. While his contemporaries like the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac remained popular, if uncool, somehow Browne remained neither. Which is a shame because he has a handful of amazing songs, most notably this one which peaked at #11 in 1978. I always think it’s crazy to get to the end and hear the crowd and realize the track was recorded live at a concert. It has a tightness you would presume came from being carefully worked over in a studio. I’ve reconsidered his music – along with Bob Seger’s – thanks to the War on Drugs references back to their era.

“Sundown” – Gordon Lightfoot. As with the Bellamy Brothers, Lightfoot epitomizes a certain sound, the early 70s folk-pop sound. This is a pretty solid jam – it went to #1 in 1974 – but he has a better song I’ll share in about seven weeks.

“Don’t Leave Me This Way” – Thelma Houston. The greatest song of the disco era. Not sure anyone in the audience realized how privileged they were to be watching Ms. Houston throw down.

Professional Football Prognostication

Oh boy. Football season is here.

“Do I detect a certain ‘Meh’ in that statement?” many of you might ask.

I will confirm, there is plenty of ‘Meh’ in that statement.

For a variety of reasons, I get a little more disengaged from the NFL every year.

Likely the biggest factor is how L plays soccer on Sundays,[1] something she’s been doing for four or five falls now. I just don’t sit down and watch football on Sunday the way I used to.

I generally prefer college football to pro.

I don’t play fantasy football.

There’s a part of my that finds it hard to get interested in the NFL simply because it has become so corporate and forced down our throats for 12 months of the year. Every other major sport takes a break. Not the NFL, which is always pumping content.

Finally there is the fact that I live in Indianapolis, and am a Colts fan. These are not good times for the Colts. And here’s where things get interesting. Because I think I’ve cracked the mystery of why the football gods are so angered at the Colts.

Andrew Luck was never supposed to be a Colt.

Oh we thought the football gods were on our side when Peyton Manning missed a full season just in time for the Colts to tank and get the #1 pick the year Luck came out. And things looked good at first. By Luck’s third year, the Colts reached the AFC title game and it looked like a long run of success was underway.

Then it all went to shit. Dozens of horrible personnel decisions caught up with them. They couldn’t keep Luck healthy. They had no backup plan for when Luck got hurt. They let him play too long when he was hurt. No one seems to know what condition Luck’s shoulder is in right now, if/when he’ll play this year, and whether he can be effective if he does get on the field.

At first, I figured all of that was on the Colts. But I’ve come to accept that the football gods realized they made a huge error in allowing Luck to end up in Indy. And they’ve done their best to correct that mistake. We might get Luck, but he will not enjoy the long, charmed run Peyton had before him, always playing with an amazing offensive line in front of him, Hall of Fame caliber running backs and receivers to support him, and a cutting edge offensive coaching staff calling the plays. Oh, and Peyton never got hurt until his final season on the field in Indy.

Luck’s spent the better part of his career handing the ball off to terrible and/or washed up backs, throwing to one very good (but not HOF) receiver and a bunch of stiffs, having the offense change every season, and running for his life behind an atrocious offensive line. The Colts can’t even put a decent defense together to at least balance the lack of talent around Luck on offense.

Realistically you have to write off this year for the Colts. Even in the weak-ass AFC South. Even if Luck plays most of the year, and at a high level, the team is still trying to dig out of the mess of the Ryan Grigson years and isn’t ready to win this year. That means maybe, hopefully, next year they’re back in contention. And that is the season Luck turns 29. Elite QBs who can stay healthy can play deep into their 30s, as Peyton and Tom Brady have shown. But there’s the risk the Colts pissed away Luck’s best years because they couldn’t build an offensive line that could protect him or give him a running game to keep defenses honest. Plus Luck has taken way more abuse than Peyton or Brady did when they were young.

Some folks will blame Grigson, Chuck Pagano, and Jim Irsay. I say the football gods have as much to do with it as the Colts leadership.

Prediction time! Remember, DO take these to your bookie, because they are rock, solid, gold picks based on several minutes of glancing at other folks’ predictions.

AFC East: New England. As long as Belichick is coaching and Brady is QBing, this is the pick.
AFC North: Pittsburgh. One more run for Big Ben?
AFC South: A cesspool of a division. Some people love with Tennessee. I don’t really trust them, but can’t pick Houston, so I guess it’s Tennessee by default.
AFC West: Likely the most fun division in the game. You can make an argument for every team getting the right collection of breaks and winning it. And each team is one key injury away from thinking about drafting in the top five next April. Since I’m not a Chiefs fan, I’ll try to jinx them by picking them. Kansas City.
Wildcards: Oakland, Cincinnati

NFC East: Dallas. Don’t expect a season like last year, but the Cowboys should still be good enough to win their division.
NFC North: Green Bay. We’re all pulling for America’s official Second Favorite Player, Aaron Rodgers, right?
NFC South: The Redemption Division! Carolina wants to redeem themselves for last year’s post-Super Bowl collapse. Atlanta wants to redeem themselves for their in-Super Bowl collapse. Should be a great run. I’ll take Atlanta to eek out the division title.
NFC West: Seattle. Team turmoil will take their frustrations out on their opponents and claim the #1 seed.
Wild Cards: Carolina, Arizona



Oakland over Tennessee
Kansas City over Cincinnati

New England over Oakland
Pittsburgh over Kansas City

New England over Pittsburgh


Green Bay over Arizona
Carolina over Dallas

Carolina over Atlanta
Green Bay over Seattle

Green Bay over Carolina

Super Bowl

Dude, come on. It’s one thing to go with a sexy, sentimental pick of Green Bay to get to the Super Bowl despite thinking they’re probably not the best team in the NFC. It’s another to pick them over New England. Hell, an NFC team could be 18–0 coming into the Super Bowl and it would still be dumb to pick them. Because, as you know, as long as Belichick is coaching and Brady is QBing… I think we all learned our lesson last February.
New England 35, Green Bay 31

  1. And her sisters used to. For one fall we usually had three games every Sunday.  ↩

Summer’s End

The last real weekend of the summer is in the books. And, if you judge only by how tired I was last night, it was a good one. Fortunately by nearly every other measure it was indeed a fine way to wrap up the summer.

It’s become a tradition that our KC friends the Belfords come into town this weekend. They stay with our local friends the Heberts, and on Friday night we go to the local high school football game. We did not get a good result, so let’s not say any more about the actual game. The remnants of Harvey were pushing into Indiana, making it a cloudy, breezy, cool night, more like October than Labor Day weekend. Luckily the rain stayed just to the south of us so we at least stayed dry.

Saturday we stayed in Indy and took all the kids downtown to hang out at the Labor Fest and then the official Purdue tailgate before their game against Louisville. Bounce houses, face painting, balloon animals, and a beautiful day made it solid way to spend the afternoon.

Sunday it was down to the lake for the final time this season. We hadn’t been down for a month so it was a bit odd driving through the roads that split corn fields with the corn now being up above your eye level. Where back on Memorial Day weekend you could see the fields spreading out for miles, now it was like driving through a tunnel.

We’ve had some cool nights lately, so the water was a little chilly. It didn’t stop the kids from having lots of fun. There was the normal tubing and kneeboarding, kayaking and paddle boarding, and running around on the Lily Pad and lounging on the floating island.

Then, sadly, when we packed things up yesterday we began breaking a few things down for the year. The floating island was deflated. The hammock came home with us instead of being stored in the shed. We grabbed all the condiments out of the fridge. While we will likely take a boat ride on our next visit, whenever that is, it’s unlikely anyone will be back in the water.

The lake part of the summer was very good. I think we got a good return on our investment of building the new boat house and deck. It made our space a lot more useable, kept the boat cleaner, and generally made our shoreline look a lot nicer. We packed a lot of fun into this year, had a lot of great guests, and hopefully have a lot of great memories of everything we did in our eight weeks down there. As always, I’m wishing we had been able to squeeze another weekend or two in. I’m becoming more-and-more a fan of the Michigan school schedule, where they go a couple weeks into June and then don’t start the new year until after Labor Day. I’d gladly trade June weekends for August weekends at the lake.

Fall has been giving us hints for a few weeks. Although August was fairly warm and very dry, the nighttime temperatures have already been cooler for several weeks. Yesterday we bumped back up near 90, but tomorrow we’re only supposed to be in the low 60s. Morning lows are going to plunge into the 40s a couple times this week.

Yes, summer is over and fall, with its changing leaves and football and pots of chili and the distant glow of the holidays, is here.