Anatomy of an Obsession

Over the years I’ve had plenty of obsessions that dominate my attention and time. Sometimes it was a person – sorry to all the girls I was a little weird about back in the day. Sometimes it was a band – there’s a long list of artists that I got way into and would listen to, non-stop, for months at a time.

And sometimes it was an activity/hobby. Photography has been the most recent example. Before that there was modern electronics/tech in general, Apple products in particular. Running, Dungeons & Dragons, shortwave radio, Atari games, Pac-Man, the Star Wars universe, and baseball cars are others. There are dozens more I’m forgetting.

Over the last, what, eight months? I’ve shifted away from doing shit with my camera to wanting to hit golf balls. Thus I’ve turned over all the things I pay attention to that are ancillary to the main obsession and cause me to obsess even more. Through that process I’ve both examined how my addictions grow and laughed at myself for how deeply I fall for things that interest me.

Here’s a run-down of how my obsessions take over my life along with some observations of how they have changed over the years.

I’ve always been an information junkie. Throw in that I grew up as an only-child who was often confined to the house because my mom was constantly working, and from an early age I got creative in how to be obsessive within those constraints. I’m guessing it’s more fun to take on a new hobby when you have a sibling who is either interested in it, too, or that you can force to be interested in it. I learned how to make-do, though.

The first step was always reading everything I could find on a topic that interested me. I’d go to the library and check out books. At bookstores, I’d spend hours looking through the magazine racks finding issues that highlighted my interests, or searching the aisles for newer books than I could find at the library. Then I would read the hell out of this stuff. One thing about my family situation was that there wasn’t a ton of money to throw at whatever my latest infatuation was. So I often had to wait to get the gear I needed to actually start doing the activity. In the interim I always figured if I read everything available on the topic, I’d be ready to dive in once my birthday or Christmas rolled around and I received the equipment I needed. I wonder if there’s some master magazine subscription database somewhere in which I could look back and see how many strange magazines I had one-year subscriptions to because of one stupid hobby or another.

The modern addition to this is, clearly, the web. As my hobbies shift in my adult life, so too do the websites that I read and plug into my RSS reader. With social media eclipsing the traditional web for sharing information, I’ve rolled my interests into Twitter, Instagram, and the podcasts I listen to. Looking at all these accounts over time will show how my the people I follow wax and wane as my interests do the same.

If there is a TV angle, I’ll pull that in as well. When I was really into Italian soccer, I would tape the weekly highlights show that aired at something like 2:00 AM on the Prime Sports Network. The summers I’ve been most into baseball, I’m as likely to watch the programs dedicated to baseball news and discussing the game as the actual games. CNet used to have a really good computer show in the late ‘90s that I made sure I watched each week. In the case of golf, I’ve added the Golf Channel to my most watched channels after years of ignoring it.

I think most of us take on hobbies not just to participate in something, but as an excuse to buy things. No matter what your pastime is, there is always something shiny and new that you can go out and buy in hopes of making your experience better. I’ve tried to temper this a little bit, but when I was younger I would sign up for every catalog available for whatever I was interested in at the moment. Our mail carrier was probably like, “WTF is wrong with this kid?” after seeing all the random catalogs that he had to jam into our mailbox. I remember passing golf equipment catalogs around in class my freshman year of high school with other geeks.

My current version of that is stopping in at my local Golf Galaxy or the PGA Tour Superstore at least once a week. I don’t buy something every trip, but I will test putters for half an hour, look at club sets or clothes, all while trying to avoid the sales people who really want me to go through a club fitting. It is both more fun and more dangerous than flipping through catalogs. More fun as the products are right there in my hands. Dangerous since it is awfully easy to walk out having bought something I really don’t need.

It’s worth throwing eBay in, too. You can spend hours looking at used camera lenses or discontinued putters while doing the mental math on whether the savings is worth the possible issues with each item.

Put this all together and I realize that I often spend more time considering an obsession than actually doing it. That’s not unusual; the guy who rebuilds old cars on the weekend will likely spend more time from Monday through Friday planning for his projects, shopping for parts, etc. But my ratio is probably a little more extreme than most. Because of that, I often am better at knowing about things than doing them. I believe that all goes back to my childhood when I sometimes had to put the doing part off until my mom could afford the new toys I was interested in.

Anyway, I’ve laughed at myself a lot lately for how much time I spend thinking about golf. It has been funny to realize I’ve been doing that my entire life and there are clear patterns to how I do so, even if the technology changes.

Here are some of the ways I’m wasting time these days, mostly centering on golf.

Podcasts I listen to regularly:
General: Roderick on the Line, Back to Work, Road Work, Reconcilable Differences, Omnibus
Tech: Accidental Tech Podcast
Golf: No Laying Up, The Shotgun Start, Chasing Scratch, The Golfer’s Journal Podcast
Photography: The FujiCast

YouTube channels I subscribe to:
Golf: No Laying Up, plus a lot of random videos that get suggested
Photography: Denae & Andrew, Matt Day

Forums I Read: No Laying Up’s Refuge

Throw in books and magazines and S was telling the truth when she told her med school buddy we went out with awhile back, “Have D tell you about his new golf obsession.”

Reader’s Notebook, 5/21/19

Oh snap, somehow I’ve gone over a month without an RN entry. I’ll blow through my last four books to get caught up.

The Sisters Brothers – Patrick DeWitt
This is a tremendous and lovely tale of two West Coast gunmen – brothers Charlie and Eli Sisters – who prowl Oregon and California for a regional crime boss during the early days of the Gold Rush. Charles is the head of the crew, the tougher, meaner, and more manipulative brother. Our narrator, Eli, on the other hand, is thoughtful, regretful of his career, and really just wants to find a nice lady who will love his ugly ass. He also wishes Charlie didn’t know how to push his buttons so well when he has thoughts of defying him.

The Sisters brothers are sent on a mission to find a man who is in possession of a great discovery for finding gold that their patron wants. When they eventually track down their target, leaving a trail of bodies along the way, they both realize that the man hasn’t done anything wrong other than be smart enough to discover a chemical reaction before anyone else did. Eli’s more sensitive side wins the day and they decide to ignore their assignment and join forces with their target. Only to learn that the “discovery” – a concoction that when poured into rivers clearly shows the location of gold – is deadly toxic.

The book is funny, touching, and filled with the spirit of the Coen brothers.

The Feral Detective – Jonathan Lethem
Lethem has written some of my favorite novels of the past 25 years, most notably The Fortress of Solitude. His latest effort was greeted as an important book for the Trump era. For the first time ever, I was disappointed by his work.

Following Trump’s election, Phoebe Siegler quits her job as a fact checker at The New York Times as a form of protest. Just before inauguration day, she travels to California to help search for the daughter of her best friend, a college-aged girl who disappeared from her Oregon dorm room without a trace in the fall. Siegler meets Charlie Heist, a highly recommended but rather bizarre detective, who she has been told may have a lead.

Heist leads her into a hidden world in the desert where two off-the-grid movements are locked in a continuous battle with each other. Or something like that. Honestly, I had a ton of trouble sticking with Lethem’s story. I understand these two groups were supposed to be allegories for our current political climate. Maybe. But they weren’t all that interesting to me. And the story seemed clunky and confusing.

I wonder if Lethem was trying too hard. And perhaps critics who have given the book good reviews were trying too hard to support something that is anti-Trump. I hope the next important book of the era is better.

A Gentleman’s Game – Tom Coyne
I’ve become a fan of Coyne for his work on The Golfer’s Journal podcast, and read his A Course Called Ireland book last fall. My plan for this summer is to read through his other golf books, and I figured I would start with his first, this novel about a boy with a gift for the game coming of age.

I had heard Coyne talk about this book before, and his admissions that he tried to throw in everything he learned while getting his MFA. That’s an apt description of how it reads. There’s a nice core story about the golfing prodigy, his efforts to connect with his distant father, how he tries to bridge the gap between being the son of a country club member and his job as a caddy, and some higher level generational and socio-economic conflicts. But sometimes Coyne tries too hard, or the connections he seeks just aren’t there. It’s good to know his writing gets better.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – Hank Green
Can the younger brother of John Green be as talented as the author of The Fault in Our Stars? Based on one book, I’ll say he absolutely can be.

This is one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year.

It reads as the memoir of April May, a 23-year-old in New York with an art degree who is working at a soulless start up to try to afford living in Manhattan. Late one night – or actually early one morning – her subway card doesn’t work and she’s forced to walk back to her office. That’s when she discovers an absolutely remarkable thing: a huge, Transformer-like statue stationed in front of a Chipotle. In very New York fashion, everyone else on the street seems to be ignoring it. She calls a friend who is skilled at video, they record something quickly, and post it to YouTube. Next thing you know, April is a world-wide phenomenon.

Green takes the story in two directions from here. First, there is the unraveling of the main plot. Where is the robot, which April calls Carl, from? And why did 63 others suddenly appear around the world? Why don’t they move or make noise? Why can’t they be moved, no matter how much force is applied to them? Why do people all around the world seem to be having the same, deeply complex dream? If the Carls are from another planet, what is their intent?

Second is a bigger social critique of our addiction to, and reliance on, social media, how we’ve devalued the traditional news media and turned it into a circus of people shouting at each other, how we are programmed to take the word of people we are physically attracted to, and how arguments that have nothing to do with politics are often used to divide people into the same camps that we argue about politics in. Green began writing this book long before Trump but I think he makes some of the arguments Jonathan Lethem wanted to make about our times far better than Lethem did.

The book is at turns hilarious, chilling, maddening, cute, sobering, and inspiring. Although not slotted into YA lit like his brother’s works, Hank Green certainly has some elements of that genre in his writing. Although the book ends with a rather huge cliffhanger that sets up a sequel, I’m almost disappointed this won’t be a stand-alone work. I like the questions it leaves unresolved. And while this may be unfair to Green, I don’t know if he can pull off the second half of this sci-fi mystery as well as he did the first.

Friday Vid

“Beautiful Stranger” – DMA’s covering Madonna.
Just a video today. We had a huge, surprise storm blow through between 5:00 and 5:30 yesterday afternoon. Our power went out at exactly 5:32 and did not come back on until 4:45 this morning. Thus I’m scrambling a little this morning, and have to be at school for the annual Walkathon shortly. We were lucky; we only lost a few tree branches. There are houses very close to us with huge, old trees lying on their roofs. There are streets blocked everywhere. I can hear chainsaws and tree chippers from all directions. Power was still off for over 11,000 people in Indy last time I checked.

Anyway, a buddy sent this to me earlier this week. It didn’t hit me at first what the original was. Then, I had a High Fidelity moment: “Is that fucking Madonna?” I think this is tremendous.

End of the Sports Year

We wrapped up the spring kid sports season last night with the City track finals.

C had a very good night.

She first ran in the final of the 400. Looking at the preliminary times I figured her best chance for a high placement was in the 200. She was fighting a cold and coughing/sneezing a lot, so I told her before this race that if she was struggling it was ok to back off and save some strength for the 200.

I regretted that advice when she fell into 8th place – out of eight runners – at about the 200 meter mark. But she battled back and caught the girl who passed her pretty quickly, then ran down another girl before the finish. I actually thought she was 7th at first and didn’t realize she was 6th until I saw the official results. A spot lower than where she qualified, but she also dropped almost two seconds off her best time so it was a great run.

The finals meet moves quick so she only had about 10 minutes before she started staging for the 200. I reminded her how the top five runners were all within a second in qualifying – she was fifth – and she was fully capable of catching the girls in front of her.

She’s usually a slow starter and runs people down late, but she got off to a great start and was fourth coming into the main stretch. She passed one girl and then had a very strong final 50 to finish third, just behind the second place runner. Her time was actually slower than her prelim time but jumping up to top three was awesome! Especially since this was only the second time she had run the 200 in a meet. As a bonus, she beat a girl who shares her name who had beaten her in every race they had matched up in this year.[1]

She was very happy when I caught up to her, a big smile on her face as she accepted high fives from teammates and friends. I made sure she had one more 200 in her, as she had the third leg of the medley relay.

We knew that relay would be trouble. The first two 100 legs would likely put us in a hole. And the 400 leg would be against the fastest 800/1600 runner in the state. There was just a little pressure on C to have a good run.

As expected we were in fourth – of five – teams when C got the stick. I wish I would have clocked her because she freaking blew the doors off her 200. She caught two girls before she finished the turn, passed the leader with 75 meters to go, and absolutely destroyed the last 50. When she passed it off to the anchor we had about a 30 yard lead. I’m pretty sure I lost most of my voice yelling at her during this run.

Our anchor is faster than C in the 400, and a stubborn, hyper-competitive spit-fire, as her mom calls her. She tried her hardest and held the lead for about 300 meters. But the girl chasing her had knocked five seconds off a 15-year old meet record in the 1600 earlier in the day. She’s just a freakishly good and fast runner. She caught us at the end of turn four and our anchor just didn’t have enough to chase her down. We finished second by nearly two seconds. The team that won the other heat was almost eight seconds faster than our girls, so they finished third overall.

It was a great end to C’s first year in track. I’ve mentioned this many times when sharing her cross country exploits, but she runs a little funny. Very powerful, choppy steps that aren’t terribly efficient. But they move her quickly so we haven’t messed with it. Her track coaches have worked with her a little on her form, focusing on getting her to use her arms more, saying that the legs will follow if she can learn to pump the upper body. Several people came up to me last night and said, “She was really using her arms in the relay!” So looks like she’s making progress.

I was thrilled with her finishes yesterday. I’m happy that she really enjoys track. But what I love most is what I mentioned in the footnote about the girl she beat in the 200. Any time she’s staging for a race, you see her talking to the girls next to her. Afterward I’ll ask what they were talking about and she’ll say, “Oh, we were just talking. She’s really nice.” I love how even though she’s competitive she almost always sees the good in others. There are some girls she will tell us are mean, but she stays away from them. I hope those girls she does talk to are telling their parents that C is nice, too.

And now the calendar is clear! No practices, no games. We do have kickball evaluations next week, but those are after school. No running anyone around until C starts cross country in July.

  1. I will note that C says her namesake is very nice and I like how they are always chatting and smiling before and after races.  ↩


Yesterday was the fourth time one of our girls played in a kickball City Championship game.

For the fourth time, we played our worst game of the year and walked away losers.

L’s team got waxed pretty good, 20–4, and it really wasn’t that close.

The team they played was solid at the plate and really good in the field. They only had a couple girls who could really blast the ball, but every other girl knew how to either kick away from the defense or to the spot that forced the defense to make a tough play. Our girls have been fantastic on defense this year but they made just enough mistakes to put us in a hole early. Then they could never get anything going on offense and the result was not in question after about the third inning.

So much of this game reminded me of some of M’s City title games. We got down early, and you could see our girls tightening up. There were those bobbles in the field, something M’s team always and only did in championship games. And we were cursed by the big roster. You play ten in the field in kickball, but everyone kicks. Because we weren’t putting long innings together and have a roster of 16, we didn’t make it through our entire lineup two full times. Our last kicker was on deck for her second attempt when the final out was made. Which meant L and our other big kickers only kicked twice. Unless you’re perfect in the field, you can’t win that way. Same blueprint as two of M’s City losses.

L did ok. She had two singles. Her first kick was solid. It could have been caught but they only knocked it down and were able to keep the runner in front of L from advancing, which kept L at first. Her second kick was down the third base line and kept in the infield. She told me before the game she was nervous and it showed in her kicking.

The team we played had a couple girls that looked more like sixth graders. Seriously, one of them was almost as tall as their coach. One of L’s teammates has cousins at that school and she said she was going to check their yearbooks to make sure those girls really were fourth graders. A little late if they’re not!

The other bonus was this team was coached by the crazy coach C’s team played against earlier this year. We were walking in at the same time and she did a double-take, “Where do I know you from?” she asked. “I coach our sixth grade team. You beat the crap out of us last month.” As she was after C’s game, she was super nice in the few moments we chatted. But, man, during the game she is turnt up, as the kids once said. I was glad I was on the opposite side of the diamond from her this time.

So we are now 0–5 in City playoff games as a family, all the losses coming to teams from the south side of Indy. Seriously, there’s something in the water down there because they just eat up good teams from the north side. Looks like we’ll need another combination of craziness like M’s team had last year to ever win another City title.

There was some pressure on this group because we’re pretty sure it’s the last time all of the best girls will play kickball. We’re still debating whether to move L into a more competitive soccer league next fall. Another good player runs cross country and plays competitive lacrosse and we’re not sure if she’ll come back. Two other players are at the point with softball where they will start playing year-round travel ball.

If this was it for them as a whole class, it was a great season with a disappointing finish.

Oh, one thing I forgot to add to my weekend wrap: C’s kickball team won their last game of the season last week! After two close calls – games we really should have won – we avoided going 0-fer with a five-run win. The girls were all super excited. And I think they were done with the head coach and I. We were a little intense in the last couple innings as we tried to will them to the win. Two girls in the field who kept getting in each other’s way were especially done with us. But, hey, we got the Dub!

C finished a fantastic individual year with another home run, a couple more runs, and some more great plays in the field. Her dad coaching third did run her into an out, though, when he fell asleep. She was flying around second and my focus was on the runner in front of her, who was dragging ass. I was yelling at her to move it as C approached third. A defender was chasing but I assumed she would dump the ball off to the pitcher to end the play. Instead she cut toward C and had a great angle. I yelled at C to stop, she skidded, ended up on her ass, and was then tagged out. I quickly told her it was my fault as she wiped away tears of pain because of her skinned palms. She nodded and walked away wordlessly. I seriously don’t think anyone has ever run her down on the bases so I think she was pissed about that more than the pain in her hands. But it was totally on dad, which she forgave me for later. Thank goodness we didn’t lose by one!

Weekend Notes

It was a pretty quiet weekend for us.

Friday was the annual St. P’s eighth grade Mother’s Mass. All the eighth graders and their moms got dressed up, had a special Mass first thing in the day followed by a brunch at school. Then they were excused for the day to go do stuff together. The girls all went to Top Golf and then a bakery to get treats.[1] Although I handle a lot of the mom duties in our house, S did take this one and I believe both she and M had a really good day. M got her hair and nails done the night before, which along with her new dress and shoes made her happy. All this was prelude to the really big day, her eighth grade graduation at the end of the month.

After school Friday L and I rushed over to a neutral school for her kickball playoff game to see who won their division. We gave up nine runs in the top of the first and then our lead-off kicker got tagged out at third when she tried to be sneaky. But we went on to score 11 in that inning, had a couple great defensive innings to create some space, and ended up winning 41–17. They play for the City championship later today.

They did not play quite as well as they played the previous game, when they beat the same team by 28. But they still played really well. L’s performance at the plate was not as impressive, either. Only one home run along with a couple doubles and a long, loud, three-run single. But I was really happy with how she noticed where the good fielders were and tried to kick away from them, sacrificing power for making sure she got on base. That’s easy to do when you’ve played a team three times. I’m telling her to just kick it as hard as she can today.

Saturday, on a clear and cold morning, we hustled downtown to the IUPUI track stadium for the preliminary heats of the City track championships. It was in the mid–40s when we got there, which was great for running but not so fun for watching the runners. The kids did not seem impressed when we told them people like Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Florence Griffin Joyner had run on this track. Kids!

C got her wish and was switched from the 800 to the 200. She had not run the 200 at a meet but they run a ton of them in practice she we hoped she was ready. In the 400 she got placed in the fast heat and finished fourth, which was good enough for fifth overall and a place in the finals. Then in the 200, she smoked her heat to win it by two seconds. That was again good for fifth overall. But while she’s five seconds behind the fastest time in the 400, the top six girls in the 200 are all within a second of each other. She got a little ragged in the last 20 meters but if she can hold that together, she can be right in it.

The finals are Wednesday night. She will also run a relay race then so it will be a full night for her.

One of the highlights of the track meet was the one final that was run that morning, the 1600 for 3rd and 4th graders. One of L’s good friends was competing and ran a great race. Until she got confused about the finish line and came to a stop about 50 yards early. Luckily her coach was near her and started yelling at her to get moving again. One girl passed her but she somehow got back up to speed quick enough to catch her and finish third. We were across the track and all screaming and laughing at the same time. When she came over after she had a big, goofy grin on her face. We made sure all the other kids knew where the finish line was after that.

But the really big news of the weekend is that I got a cold. “How is that big news?” I can hear you asking. Well, it’s been over two years since I’ve had a cold. I have no idea what I have or have not been doing that launched this extraordinary streak. There have been many times over the last two winters when I felt a scratch in my throat or a touch of the sniffles and thought, “Here we go,” only for them to pass the next day. But this time it reached up and grabbed me pretty good. I’ll admit I was a big baby about it, barely moving off the couch on Sunday. Fortunately there was a lot of good sports on TV so I could focus on those. In my defense, though, S looked at me a couple times and said, “Wow, you look terrible.” Glad my look matched how I felt.

As I said, a pretty boring weekend.

  1. Apparently the boys and their moms drove an hour to go do paintball out in the middle of nowhere.  ↩

Friday Vid

“Head Rolls Off” – Frightened Rabbit. It was a year ago tomorrow that, just after getting home from dropping my girls at school, the official news broke that Scott Hutchison’s body had been found floating in the Forth, as he had warned us about ten years earlier.

It’s been a tough year for me as a massive fan of Scott’s music, as I’ve documented a few times. There were the weeks after his death when I listened to his music non-stop in a state of emotional tumult. It was hard, but it was a way to try to come to terms with the death of someone I greatly admired.

Eventually, though, the songs became too painful to listen to. I took a break of nearly six months from listening to anything Scott did. It didn’t matter that Frightened Rabbit was my favorite band and there were so many warm feelings wrapped up in their music. Listening to them made me think of how much pain he must have been in before his death and the guilt those close to him must have felt for not knowing how to save him. That, in turn, made me think about my one close experience with suicide – which also came in early May, although 21 years ago – and how those of close to the victim still struggle to understand why he did it and how we failed him by not being able to see the signs or direct him down a different path.

Something else weird happened during this time. Back when I used to have to lay down with L to get her to go to sleep at night, I started listening to podcasts at night. It was an effort to stay awake while I waited for her to drift off. In practice I generally fell asleep, too. Once she could fall asleep without me, I kept listening to podcasts when I went to bed as I found it helped me conquer the bouts of insomnia I had battled my entire life.

During the late summer and early fall, twice I woke up in the middle of the night to hear hosts of podcasts talking about Scott and his death. Neither was strictly a music podcast, although one of the hosts is a musician. Those moments haunted me. It was like someone was telling me, “It’s not time to go back to his music yet.”

One night in January I finally decided to sit down and watch an entire Frightened Rabbit concert. It is a terrific show from July 2016 in front of an adoring Scottish crowd. It came right before Scott had one of several public meltdowns, so I assume he was in some state of mental fatigue. You wouldn’t know it by this performance, though, which is fantastic.

Watching that show changed something for me. I could finally listen to their music again. And while it took awhile to listen to it often, and then I still had a welling up of emotion, I was able to begin focusing on the positives. On how great the songs were. On how over a decade they gave me so much joy. I still get sad when I hear his songs, but that sadness is at least balanced.

I feel a little silly and ashamed admitting how much the death of a singer with substance abuse and mental health issues has affected me. As I’ve said many times, most of what Scott was singing about was totally foreign to my life. Yet I connected with his music and it became a huge part of my life.

I’m still very upset that he is gone, and sad that there will be no new Frightened Rabbit songs to get me through another decade of my life. But I am also thankful for the joy he gave so many of us who loved his music and that I’ve learned how to get beyond the pain to connect with his songs again.

You can mark my words
I’ll make changes to earth
While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth

Friday Playlist

Separating the playlist from the video this week, as I need to say a few things about the video.

“They’ll Never” – Stef Chura. Oh hells yessssss! This is the perfect song to get the warm weather season kicked off right! (I say that when we have almost no chance of reaching 60 today).

“Hello Sunshine” – Bruce Springsteen. Speaking of the sun…The Boss has a new solo album slated for later this year, and as this song shows, it will be a very different sound for him. I think I like it; it might fit what a guy his age should be doing more than straight-ahead rock. Sharing this today feels odd, though, as I’m thinking of his mental state and the guilt I feel when good songs come out of as artist’s pain.

“A Bathtub In The Kitchen” – Craig Finn. This song seems right today, as there is a Frightened Rabbit vide to the guitars in this track.

“Turn to Hate” – Orville Peck. I’m not totally sure about this song or this guy. I heard this song on SiriusXM earlier this week and it was definitely different. I did some reading up on Peck later and saw he fills some boxes I don’t think any other artist has ever filled: a gay, Canadian, cowboy who wears a mask all the time. Yep, pretty sure that’s a new one. I hear some mellow Billy Idol in his voice. I also hear some Elvis and Johnny Cash. Maybe some New Romantic-soul hybrid in there, too. And I’ve seen him labeled as a country artist. There’s a lot going on in a fairly simple song. I listened to his album once through. The first four tracks or so are solid, but then the tone gets a little monotonous. 

Timeless Fashion (I Hope)

We’ve had a lovely run of weather lately that has kept me out of the house much of this week. Running some errands. Hitting some golf balls. Coaching and watching sports. Good stuff.

Today the weather broke a bit. It is warm and muggy, but there are thick, ominous clouds racing across the sky as steady gusts blow. Storms are supposed to hit soon. Which is a real pisser because we have a very important kickball game on the schedule tonight and we’d like to get it in tonight before the weather turns much cooler tomorrow.

More on that game after it is played.

I thought of another humorous story from the wedding we attended last weekend.

I’m lucky because I only have to wear a suit 1–2 times per year. Weddings and funerals are pretty much it for me. Thus I’ve been wearing the same two suits kind of forever. As best as I can recall one of my suits is 21 years old, the other 22. I could be off a year but, regardless, they are old.

Yet amazingly they still fit me pretty well. Since they were fairly conservative cuts they look decent. Well other than the very late–90s pleated pants which went out a long time ago. When I have to wear a suit I always feel a little self-conscious about the details that are out-of-date. And then I think of how much it costs to get a new suit vs. how often I wear it and I figure I’ll wait until the next wedding rolls around to invest in a new one.

Something was different last weekend, though. My suit felt big on me. Which is strange because I’m pretty sure I weigh more than I did 22 years ago; if anything you’d think the suit would be too small for me. I’m not talking ridiculously big. Maybe a half-inch everywhere. Likely no one but me noticed.

But as I sat there at the ceremony and reception, fussing trying to adjust my jacket, sleeves, and pants, I kept having a funny image pass through my head: Charlie Murphy in the Pancakes at Prince’s skit from Chappelle’s Show. Charlie in his big, blousy, double-breasted, mid–80s suit. My suit was nowhere near that big on me, but once I thought of Murphy’s, I could not get it out of my head. I started looking for people to play basketball with, sizing up who would be on the shirts and who would be on the blouses.

Weekend Notes

We had a big sports and family weekend. So some quick notes are in order.

Friday L had a big kickball game. This was against the only team to beat them this season, a game we lost by three runs after giving up 12 runs in the first inning. Things were a little different this time. We held them to six in the first and then scored 11 in our first kicks. It was close for a couple innings but our girls played the best they’ve ever played and run-ruled them in five innings.

L went all George Brett in Game 3 of the 1985 ALCS on them. Three home runes – two grand slams and a three-run shot – a three-run double, and she missed a fourth grand slam by about a foot when an outfielder made a running grab that she bobbled twice before pulling it in. It was a seriously great catch. I even cheered for her. But, holy shit did L play well! For that matter her whole team did. They are fortunate to have about five really good kickers, and the coach has them sprinkled through the lineup so that every 3–4 kickers here comes another big leg. Every one of those girls was kicking the crap out of the ball Friday.

Now we get to play that team again this Thursday in a tie-breaker game to see who goes to City. That didn’t work out well for this group a year ago. Hopefully they saved some kicks for that game.

Saturday we went to a wedding for S’s cousin. It was a cool, dreary day, which kind of sucked. Fortunately it stopped raining just before we headed out to the ceremony. It was a very nice ceremony. We all commented it was one of the best, and funniest, homilies we’ve ever heard at a wedding. The reception was also nice, although we were lame and cut out pretty early.

A good friend of mine just informed me of her wedding date next March. When I told her how sad it was that I can’t drink very much these days and was fine leaving the reception early, she responded that I had a year to get that shit figured out. She’s right.

Sunday was a beautiful day here. Right at 70, bright sun, light breeze, no humidity. Just perfect.

C had a track meet. She got placed in the A heat of the 400 and finished third again. But she cut four seconds off her time and was five seconds behind the first and second place runners, who are two of the fastest girls in the state, girls who fought for every cross country win last fall. She was a little bummed and I told her that her time would have won the 7th/8th grade race and she perked up a little.

She struggled in the 800 – she said she used up most of her energy in the 400 – and took fifth, but did track down two girls on the final stretch. The same two girls who were at the front of the 400 took 1st and 2nd again.

For her relay, she and another 6th grade got bumped up to the 7th/8th grade race because our best 8th grader was at the meet. C ran the opening leg and had us in first, our second leg dropped us to third, then our 8th grader put us in first. But our 7th grader, who won her 800 with a blistering finish, ran out of gas and got caught in the last 50 and we took second. C thought it was cool to run with two older girls.

Next weekend is the qualifying meet for the City championships. As long as she runs well, C should probably qualify for the 400. I believe 18 qualify – 16 finalists plus two alternates – and since she’s been in the top three with great times at her two meets she should be good. You just never know how many kids from schools we’ve not run against are in her same range and could nudge her out.

The 800 is in her head. I think she is capable of running a good enough time to reach that final. But she told me last night she hates it and doesn’t want to run it next year, so it may be too much for her.

As long as we have our kick-ass fifth grader, who is juggling like 13 sports right now, and they pass the baton safely, they should get through in the relays.

L also had her final soccer game of the year Sunday. I missed it while still at track but it was another tough loss and they finished the year 3–3–1. I had been against her playing CYO soccer. I’ve heard stories from other parents of better players that it can be tough. I think that was her experience, too. Last night she said she didn’t like it. I believe some of that attitude comes from having three bad losses in their last four games. I think she was also bothered by how her team was all either really solid players or really weak players. There were literally not kids in the middle talent level, and the weaker kids really pulled them down. She is ready to return to age-group soccer next fall.