Friday Vid

“Real Thing” – Middle Kids.

We are home, safe and sound, tanned and tired. We made it home a little after 9:00 last night thanks to multiple delays in our return flights. A long summary post of our week in Cancun will come Monday.

I monitored my music sites while away, bookmarking posts I wanted to come back to. I was thrilled to see a new Middle Kids single and news of a new EP next month. I’m listening to the song for the second time as I type this and it seems like, again, the band has a winner on their hands. I don’t want to jinx them but if a song on the new EP is good enough, they have a chance to make history. They’ve hit my year-end, favorites list three straight years. No one has done that four straight years. No pressure…

Friday Vid

“Mirror in the Bathroom” – The English Beat. RIP to one of the coolest men, and coolest names, in the second British Invasion of the 1980s, “Ranking Roger” Charlery.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 24

Chart Week: February 25, 1978
Song: “How Deep Is Your Love” – Bee Gees
Chart Position: #10, 23rd week on the chart. Peaked at #1 for three weeks in December 1977 and January 1978.

The most amazing chart stretch of my life was the Bee Gee’s run in the late ‘70s. They absolutely owned the charts thanks largely to the monster that was the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

The soundtrack, which sold over 45 millions copies and spent over six months at #1 on the album chart, featured seven #1 singles – although three of those topped the charts before the album was released.1 The Gibb brothers wrote eight of the double album’s 18 tracks, and those were the most successful of the original songs on the soundtrack.

Disco may have died a fiery death soon after the peak of Bee Gee’s fever, but their success in 1978 was never repeated in the pre-streaming era.

This week’s chart was a perfect example of how hot the Gibbs were in that moment.

“How Deep Is Your Love” is just an amazing song. Seriously, put headphones on, crank it up, and disappear inside of it. The layered vocals on the chorus are absolutely brilliant.

This week was its 15th week in the top ten. Which, according to Casey, was a new record. It would spend one more week in the top 10 before finally dipping outside after a full four months there. Three of those ten weeks it topped the charts. It wasn’t until April, seven months after its release, that it finally slipped outside the Top 40.

Top spots higher at #8, the next SNF single, “Night Fever,” had jumped into the top ten in just it’s fourth week on the chart. It would spend 13 weeks in the top 10, eight at #1.

At #5 was the Gibb-penned song “Emotion” by Samantha Sang. It would spend 10 weeks in the top 10.

At #2 was little brother Andy Gibb with “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water.” Co-written by Barry Gibb, it would spend 11 weeks in the top 10, two in the top spot.

And at #1 four the fourth-straight week was the iconic “Stayin’ Alive.” It would also spend 11 weeks in the top ten.

Oh, and way down at #29 was Yvonne Elliman, six weeks into her chart run with “If I Can’t Have You,” which would also peak at #1 and last for 20 weeks in the top 40. Again, a song written and produced by the Gibb brothers.

It was just a ridiculous run. Sure, eventually the Bee Gees, Saturday Night Fever, and the entire disco movement became a joke. But there’s no denying what an immense accomplishment it was to dominate the charts the way they did in early 1978. And now that we’re well past 40 years since the disco era died, it’s safe for us to admit that most of these songs are pretty great, with or without the context of the pop culture moment they were a part of.

An aside too long for a footnote: “How Deep Is Your Love” also did America the great service of breaking the 10 week stranglehold on the #1 spot Debbie Boone had with “You Light Up My Life.” Man, people can shit on disco all they want, but it was better than that travesty of a song. I remember taking a car trip from southeast Missouri to Kansas City that fall,2 a trip that back in the day of 55 MPH speed limits took about eight hours. I swear we heard “You Light Up My Life” 8000 times on that trip. The ‘70s, man…


  1. “Jive Talking,” “A Fifth of Beethoven,” and “You Should Be Dancing” were all singles well before either the movie or album was released. 
  2. I was six. Of course my biggest memories of that trip are musical ones. 

Breakin’ It

As I said Monday, this is a very busy week. It’s already noon on Wednesday and it feels like the first half of the week has raced by as we get closer to our spring break departure tomorrow morning.

Last night M and C and I went to St. P’s first every big theater production. A few years back there was a suggestion that the school should bump up their arts offerings. From that came partnering with a production company to give kids the opportunity to be a part of a big, school-wide production. There have been some bumps along the road, as you can imagine. But last night was opening night and it was really, really good. I was a little surprised at how well things went. It shows that the months of practice paid off.

None of our girls were interested in performing, so we were just going as audience members. A few of M’s good friends had big parts, so she enjoyed that. I also thought it was funny that she went off and sat with three classmates – all boys – rather than C and I.

Oh, and the production? The Wizard of Oz. As a native Kansan I highly approved of the subject matter. Although I did text a couple of my Kansas brothers saying that if there was any messing with the geography of the show – making Dorothy from Indiana, for example – I would not be shy about expressing my disgust loudly during the show. There was no need to worry: Kansas’ finest moment outside of basketball and fighting against slavery was performed faithfully and with aplomb.

As for our trip, for the second-straight year we are returning to Mexico, this time staying in Cancún. We are lodging at a place that our old neighbors and some friends of theirs are also staying, so it will be fun to have people to hang out with. S and I went to Cancún the first year we dated, so I believe this is the first place we’ve ever gone back to. Although the hotel we stayed in back then either got destroyed in a hurricane, got razed and rebuilt as something different, or there was some other weirdness. Nineteen years is a long time in a vacation city!

This is the first time we’ve ever taken the girls out of school early at spring break. Our break actually begins Friday. But we saved a bundle by traveling Thurs-Thurs and we’ve generally been good citizens in our nine years at St. P’s, so we figured what the heck. Besides, they don’t do anything that last day anyway.

You all know that S is highly organized. She’s had piles of clothes on the floor in our bedroom for two weeks. I didn’t add my piles until Saturday, but we’ve been 95% packed for several days. Tonight it will be a matter of getting all of these piles and our toiletries into as few bags as we can. I’ve already pulled another suitcase because I think our first estimate was overly optimistic.

Our trip has already had a moment of high stress. Yes, before we even leave. That stress has not been completely removed yet, but odds are it will be. Because of that, I’m just going to tease you about it and won’t share the entire story until our return.

I’m going to try to get one post put together tonight and queued up for tomorrow or the weekend. But, for now, this is it for a bit. Happy spring breaks to the rest of you who are taking time off and away.

Really?

Usually when I post a link to an article, I like to offer a few thoughts about its content. I’ve been sitting on this one for a few days and, honestly, can’t come up with anything. It may be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. Which is saying something: I’ve wasted A LOT of time on the Internet over the years.

So, for your reading pleasure, please follow this link.

Fantasy Birding Is Real, And It’s Spectacular

Tourney Notes, Weekend One

This is a very busy week, with our spring break beginning Thursday and a lot of prep in the days between now and then, along with some babysitting of a nephew one day. So I figured I would start my NCAA post Sunday night as I watch the final game of the weekend, Oregon-UC Irvine.

KU

I told you this was going to happen. OK, I feared a blowout because of Auburn’s experience, speed, athleticism, and depth. But I didn’t expect an even worse version of last year’s Final Four beatdown by Villanova.

Man, that got ugly quick. And kept getting uglier. I guess KU made an effort to get back into it in the second half. But by then I had the game muted, was watching stuff on YouTube, and busier texting with fellow KU friends who were grousing about the game to pay much attention.

More on KU down the road.

UCF-Duke

Seriously, I’m madder about this game than the KU game. I’m not sure what the hell happened on that attempted alley-oop with a little over a minute left, UCF up three, and poised to go up five. Throwing a lob on the break in crunch time in march is not for the light hearted. Only those of the stoutest constitutions can pull it off. Naturally Duke went down, drilled a three, and the game was tied.

That baffled me. But it did not make me mad. What did make me mad was the blatant push-off by RJ Barrett on Zion Williamson’s missed free throw that gave Duke the game-winning bucket. Two hands in the back, extended arms. That’s a foul all day, every day. But since it’s Duke in the NCAAs somehow it becomes a play-on. Two last-gasp shots rimmed out for UCF and the Blue Devils live to fight another weekend. FUCK.

Then again, perhaps that was some kind of karmic balance for Grayson Allen’s last-second shot crawling all over the rim and then falling off against KU last year. If so, I suppose I’m fine with this miss.

But, damn, that was America’s chance to end this Duke nonsense. Now they will get their shit together, roll through their regional, and make it to Minneapolis. And in his hometown, Tre Jones will, miraculously, find his shot and punish anyone who dares defend him the way UCF did Sunday. And then we’ll hear the endless blathering about how he persevered, how Coach K and his teammates never doubted him, and the usual Duke bullshit.

Fuck I’m mad right now…

Big 12

Sucked. Texas Tech looked outstanding all weekend. But other than that? Mostly garbage. But, again, we knew this was coming. Unless you were a fan of one of the other schools, you knew every one of them had shitty performances in them. Hell, I picked Auburn, right? And, gee, the SEC seems kind of good.

Others

Just me or was this the worst first weekend in years? Lots of blowouts, lots of chalk. Were there more than a handful of games that made you start texting people to make sure they were watching? UCF-Duke, obviously. LSU-Maryland was freaking great. Iowa-Tennessee was shockingly good for the last ten minutes plus overtime.

Oh, a word about Iowa. I’ve never liked them. As a friend of mine put it, “They’re super generic and never great at anything.” College wrestling fans probably get annoyed by that but it’s true: plenty of good Iowa football and basketball teams over the years. But never national title contenders. I can’t say I’ve watched more than three minutes of Iowa all this season. I hated all those guys by the end of that game. Every single call they would throw their arms up in the air and argue. A couple even did the dismissive wave of the hand that is an automatic T in the NBA. Their coach is a real prick so they obviously get it from him.

Anyway, what stood out in that game was what had to be the worst call of the tournament. In case you missed it, an Iowa player attempted a three-pointer. It appeared to be blocked cleanly by the Tennessee defender. The ref standing five feet away even made the tipped hand signal to indicate the shot had been blocked. Tennessee, up three, had the ball and a player racing forward for an easy layup/dunk. But the ref on the opposite side of the court blew his whistle, came running over, and called a foul on the shot. As he and the ref who, you know, actually saw the play, discussed it, viewers were shown replays that confirmed there was zero contact on the play. But the discussion ended with Iowa shooting three free throws to tie the game.

How does this happen? How does a ref with a worse angle get to overrule a ref right next to the play? Chris Webber suggested that perhaps the outside ref just anticipated the play. Which happens, whatever. But if the closer ref has a better angle and view of the play, the outside ref should always defer. I think this guy just got shitty because he knew he made a bad call and refused to back down. Or he had money on Iowa. You never know.

Fortunately the Vols won in OT and the Hawkeyes were all crushed afterward. Which serves them right, whiny bitches.

Brackets

I had a very good weekend. I missed 11 first round games, which isn’t ideal. But I also end the weekend a perfect 16 for 16 on Sweet 16 teams. That’s solid. I am currently tied for second in one pool and waiting for results in the other, which is old school and does everything in Excel rather than online.[1]

Women’s Tournament Commercials

Have you seen these? On ESPN? In which a series of legendary players and coaches and other people around the women’s game offer little testimonials to why the women’s tournament is so good? And then, at the very end, Kobe Bryant shows up talking about “that Mamba mentality.”

WAIT A FUCKING MINUTE.

Kobe Bryant is not a woman. He never even played college basketball. What the fuck does he have to do with women’s college basketball.

Oh, AND HE WAS ACCUSED OF RAPE. Yes, charges were dropped when the accuser refused to testify, but in his statement after he accepted that she viewed their encounter as not consensual. WHICH MAKES IT RAPE.

Who the hell thought this was a good idea? And apparently I’m the only one who thinks it is strange because I haven’t seen any of the usual outlets expressing outrage. Maybe that’s a sign of how little attention people pay to women’s college basketball.


  1. Run by computer geeks, no less. Not sure how this happens.  ↩

Friday Playlist

A slap-dash, quickie playlist this week as I had a few things lined up this morning and have a lot of basketball to watch this afternoon.

“Friendly Aliens” – Chad VanGaalen. This guy is from Canada. This song is trippy and strange and fun.

“Without a Blush” – Hatchie. Your weekly Australian song. Her EP last year was excellent. Looking forward to her full-length debut in June.

“When Am I Gonna Lose You” – Local Natives. LN was big in 2016. They have a new album out next month. The first song I heard off of it I did not like. The first time I heard this one, I loved it.

“Same Things Twice” – Idlewild. Man, these guys were one of my favorite bands of the early-mid ‘00s. Some of their music back then was sooooo good. Over time their sound changed, I moved on to other bands, and I kind of forgot about them. Apparently they are back. I don’t love this song, but maybe some of the other tracks on their next album will be solid.

“Dunked On” – Froggy Fresh & Money Maker Mike. Happy March Madness!

Tourney Time: The Field

A rather busy week has kept me from diving too deep into the nitty gritty of this year’s NCAA tournament field.

It’s the first week of kickball practice, so I’ve been making sure our teams are good to go, balls have been inflated and distributed, and making sure all the stuff I need to clear with the school office before teams get outside has been cleared.

M had her scheduling night at CHS on Tuesday. Really we could have done it at home, but it was interesting to sit through the presentations before hand. It sure seems like there is a ton more support for kids than there was when I was in high school…THIRTY PLUS YEARS AGO. Holy shit. And going gave us a shot to run into the spirit store and buy her first round of uniform shirts.[1]

I’ve also had to deal with contractors. We’ve had some touch-up work done to the projects we did last fall. The crew was supposed to arrive Tuesday, but after waiting around for 90 minutes and no one showing, I made a call and found out they had pushed to Wednesday without informing us. So Wednesday I was in my sit around on the iPad, watch TV, and make sure the painters paint the right stuff mode again.

Long way of setting up I don’t have a ton of deep thoughts about this year’s tournament. I was at the Champions Classic in November. I saw Duke destroy Kentucky. I’ve known what’s up for four-plus months. Even with the randomness of the NCAA tournament, this year is all about Zion and Duke. They can lose. But this is one of those rare years when it will be a monumental upset if they don’t win. Then again, the 2014–15 Kentucky team was supposed to be a sure-thing, and America was saved from that fate…so that Duke could win. Sometimes even when you win you lose.

Looking at the Big 12, I have no idea what to make of this year’s group of tournament squads. My first inclination is to say this will not be a banner year for the conference, certainly not like last year when three teams reached the Elite 8. There are no great teams, every team has significant flaws, and then each team’s performance in the conference tournament highlights different angles of why this time of the year is so hard to predict.

Take Iowa State, for example. Do we evaluate them as the team they were at the tail end of the conference season, when they looked lost? Or do we take them as the team that ran through the conference tournament and decide all their issues are fixed and they’re the most dangerous team of the Big 12’s bunch? Or…do we throw out what happened last weekend because the ‘Clones always play their best ball in the Big 12 tournament?

Texas Tech would seem to be the Big 12 team best suited for a long run. They were simply awesome in February, finally giving Jarrett Culver support on offense while continuing to play their intense defense. But, opposite of ISU, the Red Raiders simply did not show up in KC. Which team is the real Texas Tech?

Kansas State got a great draw, well at least for the first weekend. But they will always struggle on offense and if Dean Wade’s latest injury is as bad as it seems to be and his career is over, they are really going to struggle to score the 55 or so points they need to win even with their defense.

I’m struggling with my picks because I’m not sure what to do with the teams I watch the most. Every Big 12 team going out early would not surprise me. But three or even four teams getting their shit together for a weekend and making it to the Sweet 16 isn’t a completely ridiculous notion, either.

OK, big picture time.

Obviously, I’m picking Duke to go deep. I think their bracket is the weakest of the four, they stay in ACC country the entire time, and if Zion is healthy there’s no one out there who can guard him.

In the West, I feel like I, and a lot of people, just forget about Gonzaga once the conference seasons begin. So I’m not sure if they’re good enough to make a return to the Final Four or if they’re still awesome and it’s just because I haven’t seen them play since December. I think Florida State could give them fits. But John Beilein is the current Best Tournament Coach out there. You know what, I’m getting nutty and picking FSU.

The Midwest has the potential to be a treeeeemendous Sweet 16 in Kansas City. I like Carolina and Kentucky to get through, and Calipari to beat Roy in a game that KU fans will struggle to figure out who to root for or against.

I sooooo badly want to jump on Virginia’s bandwagon this year. I generally do not like them, but I’ve loved the way Tony Bennett has handled their loss to UMBC last March. They are a hell of a team, but I’m worried they are a player short of what you need to win four games. The South is, to my eyes, fairly open for the top two seeds. Tennessee playing a regional final in Louisville seems like a good thing. Rick Barnes will remind folks, especially in Texas, that he’s a hell of a coach and get the Vols to the Final Four.

So, Duke, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee. Duke beats Tennessee easily for the title. Count on two of those teams getting beat this weekend…


  1. I also treated myself to a pretty sweet CHS hat. It was quite a deal, only $25 for a stretch-fit Under Armour cap. I guarantee the exact same hat with Notre Dame on the back instead of Cathedral would cost at least $10 more at Dick’s.  ↩

Reader’s Notebook, 3/20/19

The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup – John Feinstein
Years ago I used to read a lot of Feinstein’s books. His A Season Inside is one of my all-time favorite sports books.[1] But, over time, I found his books to basically be the same format with different details. There were little moments that would appear in every book that drove me nuts. Plus he comes off as a bit of an arrogant prick. I had plenty of other books to read, so it had been probably 16–17 years since I had read one of his efforts.

But…he has a bunch of golf books. And I’m in a golf mode.[2] Seemed like a perfect moment to jump back into his writings and see if he adjusted his style at all once I stopped reading his work.

Good news, he did make some adjustments. Yeah, it’s the same deep look at an event/season concept. In this case his focus is on the 2016 Ryder Cup. But some of those things that used to annoy me most were either sanded away or had disappeared completely.

All in all, I really enjoyed this. There is a solid history of the Ryder Cup, with some deeper dives into how the European team came to dominate it in recent years. There’s a ton of material about how the US adjusted how it picked its team in order to try to fix what went wrong in 2014 specifically. He goes deep into the men who made both teams in ‘16. And then he covers the actual event in a brisk manner that feels right.

It was interesting to read it months after the 2018 Ryder Cup, which much of what went right for the US in ’16 went wrong again. It was also a reminder at how quickly things change in sports. In 2016 Tiger Woods was just an assistant captain and his future was uncertain. Jordan Spieth was still the brightest young star in the game. People didn’t hate Patrick Reed.

The biggest revelation, though, was that I actually kind of liked Phil Mickelson after reading it. I’ve never liked him, always thinking he was a phony, Eddie Haskell-type whose personality outweighed his immense talent. But, good grief, I have softened on him after reading this book and because of his recent embrace of social media where he comes across as a pretty funny dude.


Tornado Weather – Deborah E. Kennedy
Another book I loved so much that I hated it. Kennedy is an Indiana native and sets this, her debut, in a fictional town in northern Indiana.

The story revolves around the disappearance of a young, wheelchair-bound girl one day after getting off of her school bus. Each chapter centers on a different member of the community, sometimes with a direct link to the possible crime, other times only having tenuous connections with the girl that grow stronger after later revelations. Each chapter is more about its character than about the disappearance, and Kennedy slowly, carefully reveals details of what really happened as she builds up the town.

And her town is full of characters. A worker at a massive dairy who is actually an embedded reporter who is about to publish an expose on how it relies on illegal immigrants for labor. Two strippers, one intelligent and beautiful and another dumb, prone to terrible decisions, and not particularly attractive. A series of dirtbags who aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are. A young man who believes he is a woman and struggles to find him/herself in a town that isn’t nearly ready for that kind of thing. The family of the missing girl. And on and on.

Kennedy sets up a town that seems divided at first, but is actually way more interconnected than it knows. One character in particular seems unsettling and odd at first, but eventually pulls the entire story together. This character offers the final line of the book, which is one of the best, happiest, most emotional lines I can recall reading.

I had seen Kennedy compared to Daniel Woodrell. I’m not sure who made that comparison but I found it to be waaaay off. She reminds me so much more of Carl Hiaasen. Her writing is full off oddball, hilarious, unforgettable characters. She pushes their actions to the edge of believability but always stops before she pushes too far. Time and again I was laughing out loud. Within all that humor is a compelling, carefully crafted story.

Another debut novel that completely floored me. I loved it. Which makes me hate Kennedy. (Not really.)


  1. Helped largely by the fact he took a year-long look at college basketball, Kansas was one of the teams he focused on, and they just happened to go on a run that ended with a national championship.  ↩
  2. More on that down the road…  ↩

Season’s Greetings!

You may have noticed something very important was missing around here last holiday season. Yes, I never linked to the newest edition of The Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog, the annual gut-bust of a read. Good reason for that: Drew Magary, the mad genius who puts those together every year, suffered a sudden and major health issue last December.

Fortunately he has returned, apparently in good health, and realized the phrase better late than never applies to internet parodies as much as anything else.

So, for your reading pleasure, here it is:

The 2018(ish) Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog

The “(yes, THAT Roy Shvartzapel)” line made me laugh the hardest.