Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 56

Chart Week: May 1, 1982
Song: “867–5309/Jenny” – Tommy Tutone
Chart Position: #8, 15th week on the chart. Peaked at #4 for three weeks in May and June.

Quick show of hands: if you were alive and old enough in 1982, how many of you dialed 867–5309 to see if Jenny would answer? I know I did. I believe in Kansas City the response was an AT&T recording that there was no such number in my area code (816 represent!).

Unintentionally, the band Tommy Tutone set off a brief fad with their ode to looking for a good time by calling a number scribbled onto a wall.

According to Casey Kasem, dozens of people around the country had the number 867–5309 when the song was released. As the song climbed the chart, and volume of callers looking for Jenny multiplied, it created great annoyance and forced many of those poor folks to change their phone numbers.

A couple businesses tried to take advantage.

A talent agency in Los Angeles adopted the number and connected it to an answering machine, where a woman named Jenny asked callers to leave a message.

Chicago radio station WLS went a step further. The AM radio giant also claimed the number. In a matter of weeks they got over 18,000 calls. The phone company told the station they needed to add more lines to handle the flood of callers. WLS did, and enlisted Tommy Tutone lead singer Tommy Heath to record a message that answered the calls, thanking fans for their interest in the song.

If only I knew the Chicago area code in 1982! Then again, long distance calling was an expensive luxury back then. My mom probably would have killed me when the phone bill arrived listing a bunch of calls to 312–867–5309.

As I listened to this week’s countdown I couldn’t help but compare this little bit of harmless marketing fun to how brand managers would handle a similar song today. Can you imagine? There would be coordinated social media pushes. There would be ads on YouTube. There would be carefully crafted GIFs, Tik Toks, and Instagram filters. Jimmy Fallon would do a super dumb parody. And since the charts are so different now, the song would hang around for nearly a year, to the point where we would all be sick of it and never want to hear it again.

Thank goodness the ‘80s were different times! Instead of being overexposed and forgotten, “867–5309/Jenny” become one of the most beloved, iconic, and unforgettable songs of its era.

April Media

Shows and Movies

Pearl Jam Live On 6/25/2010, Hyde Park, London, England
To celebrate Easter weekend, I guess, online streaming service nugs.net put this show up for free from Good Friday evening through Easter Monday. An outstanding show with terrific sound and a stellar setlist. It was unnerving to see how tightly the crowd was packed in, though. Not because of Covid but more because of the sheer amount of people in a small space. Eddie was rightly concerned.

A+


The Wolf’s Call
Basically a French The Hunt for Red October. This thriller sees Europe on the verge of nuclear war as a presumed Russian missile streaks from the Bearing Sea towards France. A French nuclear sub is given orders to launch a counterstrike and goes into its stealth mode leading up to launch. But a genius French sonar operator discovers that the missile is not armed with a warhead and is likely not from the Russians, setting off a mad scramble to prevent the counterstrike.

This movie was cheesy as hell and had numerous glaring logical flaws. They were made worse by Netflix dubbing the audio rather than presenting it with subtitles. The American actors who added their voices sounded like people with no experience acting. Being a French film, though, the ending isn’t nearly as clean and happy as a corresponding American film would be.

C+


F1: Drive to Survive, season three
L and I ripped through this in about a week. Same old formula, with the same old success.
(L never watched season one so we went back and watched it to get her caught up. Interesting to look back two years and see how much had changed. That’s the weird thing about sports media: it’s so time exclusive. The exciting phenom of one year is the flamed-out, cautionary tale of two years later.)

B+


Tourist Sauce: Oregon
The first Tourist Sauce season of the Covid era. Like the first Strapped season of these times, it also suffers a bit by not adding as much local color as in past seasons. However, sticking mostly to Oregon’s Bandon resort alleviated some of those issues. As with every TS season, watching these 12 episodes should make any golfer want to get their game and bank account in good enough condition to book a trip to Bandon

B+


Burn After Reading
Exactly what you would expect when the Coen brothers take on the espionage genre. Silly, hilarious, and often uncomfortable. An expected wacky and excellent performance from Frances McDormand. Totally unexpected oddball efforts from George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

A-


Greater
About the life of Brandon Burlsworth, who went from out-of-shape walk-on to starter and first team All-American at right guard for Arkansas in 1998. Weeks after he was drafted in the third round by the Colts, he died in a car accident.

His rise as an individual is primarily driven by his faith. The movie is very low-budget Christian, and because of that comes off as lazy and cheesy at times. Some of the acting is super amateur. Some of the characters are painted with very broad strokes, and there is little-to-no subtlety in many of the religious moments.

No matter what the focus is, you can’t help but get sucked into a story about an underdog athlete turning into a star. Even if the focus on his faith rather than his obvious talent is over-the-top. The movie suggests the team’s success in 1998 – they started 9–0 and had #1 and eventual national champs Tennessee beat until a fumble in the closing minutes gave the Vols the win – was a result of the team’s Bible study sessions going from only Burlsworth and his coach to a room crowded with teammates.

Again, if you’re into that kind of stuff, this movie will work. I am not, and it did not.

But…as much as I wanted to cynically dislike this movie, it pulls all the right strings in getting you to admire Burlsworth’s rise and his positivity. And while his death is only alluded to, the fact he died in a car accident pretty much destroyed me. That doesn’t happen very often; I’ve seen plenty of movies with deaths caused by car accidents in the 23 years since my mom died and been ok with them. Something about this one reduced me to a teary mess.

B


A Week in the Life: Madelene Sagström
No Laying Up’s newest feature shows great promise. The premise is to follow someone in golf through an entire tournament week. They could not have picked a better first subject. Sagström is delightful. She’s open, honest, insightful, funny, and charming.

The week they followed her was significant, too. She was the defending champion of that week’s tournament. She was stuck in London for two days trying to get her visa worked out. And on Monday of that week she had, in coordination with the LPGA, released a video in which she, for the first time, publicly acknowledged the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. It made for compelling TV. Or YouTube, I guess.

The only downside is there was too much golf. I think they could have shown her progression through the tournament – she made the cut on the number and finished deep in the pack – without spending 30–40 minutes showing shots. I wanted to see more of what the life of a touring pro is. But perhaps some of that additional color wasn’t possible while we are still living with Covid.

B+


Zero Dark Thirty
I had profoundly mixed feelings while watching this. From a purely cinematic perspective, it is excellent. Tense, taut, and full of the nitty-gritty of what intelligence services really do: dig through massive amounts of data hoping to catch a break to find the information they seek to justify operations.

However, it also felt a little manipulative, bordering on revenge porn at times. Throughout the movie I was recalling the anger I felt in the 2000s because of many aspects of our response to the 9/11 attacks. I was having mental debates about the use of torture. As much as people of all perspectives wanted us to catch Osama Bin Laden, and as fine as I was with his ultimate fate, I felt a little wrong about rooting for it so hard. I think that’s a reflection of the age of politics we live in where everything is white or black, there is never room for gray. Where there’s only room for debating yes or no on a policy, never an opportunity to decide if there are other policy options.

A-


Shorts

Africa by Kayak: 2000km around the southern tip of Africa
My man Beau Miles attempts to kayak from Mozambique to Namibia. He runs into problems.

B


18 Days, 5 Minutes – Volcanic Eruptions in Geldingadalir and Fagradalsfjall Iceland
Mesmerizing.

A


But how does bitcoin actually work?
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin do not make sense to me. This video helps explain the theory and process behind them. I’m still not sure I get it.

B


How slow jams took over the radio
Awwwww yeah! I think they undersell that Quiet Storm programs were mostly about being a soundtrack for hooking up, though.

A


The Ultimate Guide to Black Holes
Ultimate guide might be an exaggeration.

B+

Weekend Kid Sports Notes

The pace is winding down but still kid sports notes to share from the past few days.


Track

Yesterday was CYO track meet #3. This one was a little different: kids were free to make their own schedules. They picked a race, show up when it was called, and then scanned their wristband at the finish line to “register” themselves for that event.

L kept bouncing around on what to run. The 50 and 100? The 100 and 200? All three? She settled on the shorter sprints. Despite running into a pretty fierce headwind she dropped 0.11 off her 50 time, winning the race in 7.57, nearly 0.3 faster than the second-place runner. That wind slowed her down in the 100, but it slowed her opponents more. She beat her St P’s buddy by over 0.7 and the third place runner by a full second. Her time would also have been fast enough to win the 7th/8th grade girls race.

She was again taking names. After the 100 she was excited about beating “all the fast girls.” I’m not sure how she gets this information, since we didn’t have previous times for any of the new girls she ran against. I wonder if she asks when they are lining up, or if girls are just always bragging. I need to make sure some girls are talking smack to her before the city events!

She ran the first 100 of the medley relay, got a big lead, her buddy stretched it out in the second 100, but our 200 and 400 girls had issues with the baton pass and gave all the margin away. No worries, our 400 runner is the fastest in the state and won easily.

C had a good day, too. She decided to only run the 100. She got put in the second heat, which she won by about five yards. Her time was good enough to take third overall, 0.02 behind a teammate who ran the faster heat. I like to think C would have caught her if they ran the same heat.

She ran the second 100 of the medley relay. She got the baton in second, passed it off in second. Mission accomplished. Her team got destroyed in the anchor leg, though. Still, she had two good runs for the day.

Next Saturday are the preliminary rounds for the City championships.


Tennis

M played a match Friday right across the street from our house. Unfortunately she played at the same time L and I were at kickball and before S could get there. They actually played multiple sets this time, playing to four games rather than six. She and her partner lost two sets to none, but did win a couple games in one of the sets. She’s hoping to get to play tomorrow, assuming the rain passes by then.

She’s also asked about continuing lessons through the summer with the plan to play next year.


Soccer

You may recall that last Tuesday C scored a goal, earning her an ear cartilage piercing. That happened without either S or I there to see it.

Wednesday she played again and I was able to attend. I was sitting right at midfield. Late in the second half there was a loose ball near the goal, she pounced on it, and it looked like she made terrific contact, sending the ball towards the corner of the goal. The goalie did a full-out stretch and, from my perspective, seemed to knock the ball wide.

C started jumping up and down, shaking her arms, clearly yelling because she was upset. The St P’s parents around me and I started laughing, thinking C was pissed that this kid made a phenomenal save on her shot.

And then the referee blew her whistle and pointed at midfield, indicating it was a goal.

She had scored again!

Immediately I got the questions, “So does this mean two piercings?!?!” That night one of her coaches, who wasn’t at the game, texted me, “I hear the belly button piercing got approved.”

I texted S, who was at a meeting, with the news. “I only signed off on one piercing!”

After the game C said that the goalie did get his hands on the ball, but pushed it into the corner of the net where there was a big tear and the ball sailed through, making it look to those of use 50 yards away like it had missed. She was jumping up and down thinking the referee didn’t see it and she wouldn’t get her goal.

She was very pumped to have scored again.

Thursday she did something totally unprecedented: she skipped a kickball game for her team’s final soccer game. I wasn’t sure about this. We agreed at the beginning of the year that kickball would always come first. I’m a coach, for crying out loud! What kind of message does it send that I let my kid skip for another sport? But she’s having so much fun with soccer that I said it was fine with me if my kickball coaching partner agreed. Luckily her daughter plays soccer, too, and she saw the happiness on C’s face. She gave us her blessing.

In the finale Thursday C had a couple scoring chances that she couldn’t take advantage of. In the dying minutes of the game, she looked to have a breakaway with a kid in goal who did not want to be there. But one of her teammates came over and knocked her off the ball. As soon as he did that, the referee blew the whistle ending the game. I stood up and yelled, “Thanks a lot, Stephen!” All the parents around me thought I was thanking him for keeping C from scoring. In fact I was being sarcastic: I wanted her to score again!

Oh well, she had a ton of fun this past week, and that’s the most important thing.


Kickball

Turns out the game C and I missed was kind of a big deal. Just as the soccer game ended, I got a text from my coaching partner. “We won, 31–30, in 9 innings!”

Extra innings in kickball?!?! That happened to M’s team in 7th grade – they had a ten inning game – but that was the only time I had experienced it.

The next day I got the scoop. We were missing five players total, so had just enough for a team of 10. We were down seven going into the bottom of the 7th, with the bottom of the order up. They all got on base – which NEVER happens for those girls – then we scored seven to send it to extras. Neither team scored in the 8th, then we scored three in the bottom of the 9th to pull out the win.

Her team is supposed to play tonight and tomorrow, but we’ll see if weather allows that to happen.

L’s team played their final regular season game of the year Friday. They faced a team that was mixed 5th/6th graders and had been getting killed all year. So we were a little nervous when we were only up 5–4 after two innings.

Our girls scored 14 in the third, 13 in the fourth, and seven in the fifth to win by mercy rule.

L was not happy, though. The field we were playing on was weird. There was a sidewalk in left field that meant balls she normally kicks that way would be ground rule triples instead of home runs. She started the game trying to kick to center. That produced a double and a fly out. She started shifting her aim to right field, where the ball could roll. One of those kicks turned into a single and she was tagged out going to second, although she insists the tag didn’t touch her. She got another double. Then she came up in the top of the fifth with the bases loaded. She aimed toward right and absolutely smoked the ball. This was a no-doubter, everyone can walk because the defense isn’t getting it, kick.

And then the umpire raised his fist and called her out for stepping over the three foot kicking line. Which is bullshit; she was at least four inches short of it. Short enough to see clear asphalt between her shoe and the line.

This was her first game of the season in which she didn’t kick any home runs. She was not happy. After the game she wouldn’t talk for two hours. I told her to knock it off: they won by 32 on a day she didn’t kick well, and that was a good thing. Plus I had been warning her about getting close to the kicking line for a week and she kept blowing me off. Maybe this will make her adjust her technique.

Her team went 7–0 in the regular season. There are three divisions in her age group, and her team will play in a City semifinal next week. The division they matchup with has a three-way tie for first place, so it requires two playoff games this week to determine who we play. At track yesterday the coaches were trying to convince me to go scout the second playoff game. I didn’t say that I wouldn’t do it…

Friday Playlist

“Keel Timing” – Manchester Orchestra
Their new album drops today, and it is getting excellent reviews. I’ve really liked each of the advance singles. Perhaps an early contender for album of the year? I will give it my first listen as soon as I post this.

“The Right Thing is Hard to Do” – Lightning Bug
I was reading a little about this band this morning. They were poised to have a breakthrough year in 2020 and then, well, you know… This is a lovely, majestic song that has me looking forward to what else they have to offer.

“Sea Life Sandwich Boy” – Horsegirl
These three ladies from Chicago have a pretty on-the-nose, mid-90s college radio thing going on here.

“Good Times” – INXS with Jimmy Barnes
File this under Songs I Had Completely Forgotten About. It got a brief play in a movie I watched last week – totally out context, BTW. The movie took place twelve or more years after this song was out and most of the movie included era-appropriate songs – and it floored me for a moment. From The Lost Boys soundtrack, this was big for a minute or two in the summer of 1987, then got forgotten when INXS’ Kick blew up later that year. Barnes was a big deal in his native Australia, but as far as I can tell, this was his only real international success. This song is a cover of an original written and performed by the 1960s Aussie band the Easybeats, who get a lot of credit for kicking off the rock scene Down Under.


“I See Red” – Betchadupa featuring Eddie Vedder & Tim Finn


“Take a Walk” – Neil Finn & Friends featuring Eddie Vedder


“There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” – Neil Finn & Friends
Man, we just passed the 20th anniversary of the concert series I would pick first if I could go back in time and see any show in the history of rock: Neil Finn’s 7 Worlds Collide series. In late March 2001 he invited a bunch of musical friends to join him in his native New Zealand for a week of rehearsals followed by a week of shows. His guests included Eddie Vedder, obviously; Phil Selway and Ed O’Brien from Radiohead, Johnny Marr, most famously of The Smiths; Indiana’s Lisa Germano; Sebastian Steinberg of Soul Coughing; along with several Finn family members.

In these three videos we first have Neil’s son Liam and his then band Betchadupa covering one of Tim’s old Split Enz songs with Eddie and Tim providing vocals. Eddie is nicely glammed up to match the Split’s late ’70s image. Next, Neil and Eddie share vocals on a song from the final Split Enz album. Lastly, Neil takes lead vocals on a classic Smiths tune.

If you like these songs, you won’t be disappointed if you keep watching others from that week of shows.

Car Shopping Chronicles, Part 4

We’ve made it! After three entries of background bullshit about my search for a new car, we’ve finally arrived at my first test drive!

As previously noted, I am focusing on the luxury compact SUV class. While there are a ton of cars in this space, I have pretty much whittled it down to five I want to compare first hand:

  • Acura RDX
  • Audi Q5
  • BMW X3
  • Mercedes GLC300
  • Volvo XC60

Very imaginative names, no? I assure you that I’ve never gotten any of them confused or jumbled up.

Each of these gets very good reviews, always showing up at or near the top of the ratings for the class.[1] The consensus is you can’t go wrong picking any of them, but each has its own strengths and frustrations that need to be experienced first hand so you can determine what fits your tastes best.

Kind of like dating!

After we got home from spring break, I decided the Mercedes was the one I wanted to test drive first.

It helped that during one of my periodic checks of what was in stock, our local Mercedes dealer had a very sweet one on their lot. It was about as loaded as the base GLC gets before you start throwing really stupid money at one. Notably, it had the AMG-line trim flourishes without the AMG engine upgrade that adds about $20K to the price. It was a sexy damn car!


After some initial chitchat with the sales guy I had exchanged emails with, we hit the lot. The car that had caught my attention online was inside the showroom, so he was going to have me drive a slightly less specced-out model. I admired the confidence. Seems like you’d want to put your customer in the sweetest ride you have and hope they get blown away by the experience. He seemed to think any old GLC would do.

The model I drove was still pretty nice. After I gave its exterior a once-over and he had walked me through all the interior features and functions, he said, “Let’s drive. Go wherever you want. Ask me any questions you have.” Much different than test drives where they carefully direct your course or spend the entire time pushing information you haven’t asked for.

The ride? It was super nice. Much more comfortable than my Tahoe, which was to be expected. I was driving in pothole-free Carmel, which likely made a huge difference. A new car, that is tight and free of creaks and squeaks and rattles, will always sound better than one that’s been driven hard for a few years.

It was smooth, jumped when I hit the accelerator, and zipped between lanes and around curves with ease. It didn’t ride as high as my Tahoe but I was still elevated enough to have a good view of the road ahead. It very much had that combination of small SUV size plus a much more fun ride that I’m looking for.

I really liked it.

The weird thing about test drives is how overwhelming they are. You’re trying to get a feel for where everything is and how everything operates. You’re trying to compare the driving experience to what you’re used to. You have a salesperson next to you who you have to interact with. Oh, and you have to drive a strange car in traffic. I was just hoping I could remember the important details when I was done and not rear-end someone when I was trying to use the entertainment system screen.

After the drive we looked at the other GLC’s that were on the lot. My favorite was still the one inside. I told him that if I needed a car that day rather than in July, that’s the one we would be talking price on.

Which brings up an important point. Eighteen months ago their lot was filled with cars. But because of both higher demand and some constraints on production, their inventory is pretty tight. He said they are still getting new cars, just not nearly as many as in the past. People who order custom vehicles are having to wait much longer than normal to get them. However, he did say they pretty much spec all the GLC’s they order the same way, so other than paint colors and a few other options, most of the ones they receive between now and July will be very similar, and land in a fairly tight price range.

He also shared that they keep a decent inventory of former loaners that are available for purchase. These generally have around 3,000 miles on them, coming with a decent corresponding discount. That opens up an option both to work around the supply issue and push the lease price for a luxury compact SUV closer to that of a luxury subcompact SUV. You lose some the new car experience, which is balanced by a nice price reduction. That could weigh heavily on my decision since we are now making three car payments instead of two.

That was test drive number one. Since it was the first I have been kicking myself about questions I should have asked that didn’t occur to me while we were driving. I suppose that sets me up better for future test drives.

I loved the Mercedes GLC. It was exactly what I’m looking for, and is currently the top of my list. Of course, that may all change the moment I finish test drive number two.


  1. The one exception is the Acura. We’ll get more into that when I test drive it.  ↩

Mid-Week Kid Sports Notes

I mentioned that this would be a very busy kid sports week. That has proven to be true. As there were a couple big developments, I’m going to go ahead and get you caught up on what’s gone down the past two days.


Tennis

Monday M played her second tennis match. We never heard why, but they mixed up the partners and she played with one of her best friends. Just like her first match, she and her partner raced out to a 3–1 lead, then lost the fifth game. This time they held it together and won their one-set match 8–3. She and her partner – who lost 8–0 a week ago – were pretty pumped to get the win. It was extra fun since both S and I were able to watch her play.

Now I’m not going to blow any smoke up your collective asses and claim this was a high quality match. A lot of balls into the net or hit way long or wildly out-of-bounds. There were a few service games that were lost at love. But there were also a handful of decent rallies and M and her partner both had several decent winners.

I told M after she got home that my only piece of advice was to swing more confidently. She has a tendency to hit cautiously, with a weak arm, which sends the ball into the net (sometimes bouncing its way there). She rolled her eyes at me, but I reminded her that she’s had six months of lessons; she knows how to swing a racquet.

“I’m not saying you have to try to kill the ball,” I said. “I’m just saying you’ve had good lessons and you’ve worked hard. Take a confident swing each time and I guarantee you’ll have better results.”

In her defense, most of the JV girls have the exact same issue.

I was proud that after hitting several balls into the net, she looked like she wanted to throw her racquet. That is definitely a trait she picked up from me! Although I would have 100% tossed my racquet.

The weirdest thing about the match was it was my first trip to the CHS campus since November 13 when the school went virtual for the end of the fall semester. Crazy, huh?


Soccer

C had a soccer game last night. As it was both across the street from S’s office and L had a kickball game, she got a ride to the game with a friend knowing S could come over, watch the end, and bring her home.

We were a couple innings into kickball and I was standing in my normal scorekeeper’s spot behind third base. Suddenly my phone and watch started vibrating like crazy as a bunch of texts came in. I glanced to make sure the messages weren’t from M telling me the house was on fire, but after confirming they weren’t from M didn’t read any of them.

Between innings I unlocked my phone and reviewed what had come in.

“C just scored!”
“Are you at the game? She just scored!”
“OMG, C just scored a goal!”
“U owe a piercing!!!!”
“Guess who is getting her ears pierced???”

Alert readers may recall that at the beginning of the season S promised C that if she scored a goal this year, she could get her ear cartilage pierced. She had a chance two weeks ago but put the ball over the crossbar. Apparently she did not waste her second opportunity.

This was at the beginning of a defensive inning for L’s team, and she was playing third base. When she reached her spot I yelled out to her, “C scored a goal!” L’s eyes widened and she got a huge grin on her face, “Really?! WOW!!!”

When the game was over, a 3–1 win, C texted me:

“I scored a goal. Dubs.”

When she got home she broke down the play for me. It came on a throw-in deep in the offensive end of the field. The ball bounced through the defense, hit her arm, dropped directly in front of her, and she calmly put it away. I doubt there was anything calm about it but it sounds better that way. I didn’t point out that if the ref had been paying attention it should have been a handball since the ball hit her arm. He didn’t see it so the goal was 100% valid. I guess it was the same referee who screwed up the snow game last week, so he owed us one.

My kickball coaching partner texted me after the game that all the St P’s parents went nuts when the ball hit the back of the net.

I wish I could have seen it, but I’m very glad she was able to score. C has a tendency to let sports disappointments drag her mood down. This was a fine way to begin to close out her CYO sports career.

She has another game tonight – it will likely be her final game – so I’ve encouraged her to not be satisfied with one goal.

Oh, and it was sunny, breezy, and 84. A HUGE difference from last Tuesday night.


Kickball

A ho-hum night for L in kickball.

She kicked seven times.
She reached base safely seven times.
She kicked one double.
The other six kicks were all home runs, including one grand slam.

I’m honestly not sure what got into her: this was the hardest she’s ever kicked the ball. She had three home runs in the first two innings and each sailed over the deepest outfielder’s head. She could have walked in from second and still reached home safely.

The one time she kicked a double it was because the defense tried to get tricky. The opposing coach was one of her basketball coaches last winter. He was talking to me while he was trying to stack his left field with an extra defender and get them to back up. He got everyone situated how he wanted then looked at L and muttered to me, “Oh jeez, she’s going to kick it to right field, isn’t she?” Sure enough, L was angling her body to kick to right. She didn’t get 100% of this ball and sent it directly at the right fielder. As in youth baseball/softball, you usually hide your weakest fielder in right field in kickball. This girl wanted nothing to do with L’s line drive. I think she may have even closed her eyes. But she hung in there, the ball ricocheted off her legs back toward the infield, and L had to be content stopping at second.

Car Shopping Chronicles, Part 3

Crap. I realized in part two of this series, I left out one angle of my car search. It’s not terribly important to the big picture, but I figure if I’m writing about the process, and some of you are actually reading about it, I shouldn’t skip anything that happened along the way.

At the end of my last entry, I revealed that I had settled on a specific category of cars to focus on: luxury compact SUVs. While that is true, that was not my first choice.

Initially, seeking to go waaaaay smaller than my current ride and save more money, I had picked the luxury SUBcompact SUV class to investigate. Many of these vehicles are just barely SUVs. Actually, they are pretty damn close to being small station wagons as opposed to SUVs. They zip around pretty nicely, depending on the engine you get, and have fantastic mileage. They would be super easy to park in the garage, too.

So my initial list was:

  • BMW X1
  • Mercedes GLA
  • Volvo XC40
  • Audi Q3

However, when I showed this list to S, she scoffed. “Those are all too small.”

“Sure,” I said, “but, remember, we don’t need a huge car anymore.”

“I understand that, but I just think those are too small. You can barely get three kids in the back, and there’s not much room for cargo behind the second row if it’s full.

“You should look for something bigger.”

I don’t want to create the wrong impression here: I am allowed to make my own decisions. In fact, S has told me to pick whatever car I like the most and get it. Since she is the one who brings home the bacon and pays the bills, though, she does get some input. And when she tells me to look at bigger, nicer cars, I listen.

So THAT’S how I arrived at looking in the luxury compact SUV space, and next time we can finally get into my first test drive.

Weekend Kids Sports Notes

We are about to embark on our busiest week of the spring sports season: three tennis matches, four kickball games, one soccer game (two games missed because of kickball), and trying to squeeze in at least one track practice per girl before next weekend’s meet.

Here’s how they did last week.


Tennis

No tennis matches for M last week. She gets to play today in the first JV home meet of the year. Only 22 JV girls were selected (out of 40–50ish, we’re not sure how many girls have dropped since the initial rosters came out) and she and her partner made the list based on their play in practice. She’s pretty pumped. She has two whole-squad meets later this week.


Kickball

Last Monday L’s team played St B’s, their biggest rival within their division. Her team won a terrific game by six runs. The teams were very evenly matched. Both teams had 13-run innings on offense. Both teams had defensive innings where they gave up no runs. Our girls were a smidge better on defense and had only one bad inning kicking, and that was the difference. We went into the 7th up seven and only gave up one run, so didn’t have to kick in the bottom of the inning. It was the first time L’s class has beaten St. B’s in four tries, so there was a trip to Dairy Queen after the game.

L went 4–6 with two homers, including a grand slam.

Friday they run-ruled some girls 51–19. It should have been a five-inning game but we played awful defense in the bottom of the fifth and gave up just enough runs that we had to play one more inning. After the game I accused L of booting one ball on purpose so she could kick again. She didn’t deny it.

Her line for the night: 7–7 with two home runs and four triples. The other team could not catch but they were at least good enough to hold her to triples more often than not.

L’s squad has three games this week. Assuming they don’t lose two – and that seems highly unlikely – they will be division champs and advance to the City semifinals next week.

C’s team played their only game of the week Thursday. We were facing a team that was mostly seventh graders. We gave up 12 runs in the top of the first, scored none in the bottom, and our girls all mentally checked out. We lost 35–7 in five innings and I’m honestly not sure how we scored seven. Those seventh graders could all either blast the ball or place bunts perfectly and beat them out. Our girls couldn’t catch a thing, and acted only mildly interested in making plays on the bases. It was borderline embarrassing.

I don’t think we had a chance to beat those girls – in addition to kicking the crap out of the ball they caught anything in the air and always made the right play when throwing to bases – but it would have been nice if we competed. This was a clear indictment of our coaches (mostly the idiot third base coach).


Track

Track meet number two was yesterday. Another great day to run. Another day that L dominated.

It was a smaller meet so runners were only able to compete in two individual events.

L ran the 100 and 200, winning both. She beat her buddy in the 100 by 0.3. She won the 200 by over a second. She was pumped about that win because a girl was bragging in the lineup for the race about how fast she ran last week. L beat that girl by two full seconds. She knew her name, and the first thing she did when we got the final results was find the gap between their times. I like how she listens to other girls talk smack and then quietly goes out and beats them.

Her times were also fast enough to win both the 7th/8th grade girls races and the boys 5th/6th grade races.

I must say the times yesterday have an asterisk. The automatic timers were down most of the day, so most sprints were hand timed, which means the don’t count as PRs and you can’t really compare them across races.

C was supposed to run the 100 and 200 as well. She was struggling with some hip pain, though. In the 200 she was in good shape until the final 50 when you could see that pain really started to bother her. She faded to finish last in her heat and 9th overall. She was in tears afterward so S gave her some Motrin and she begged out of the 100, hoping she would be ready for the relay.

In the relays L ran in both the 4×100 and the medley. Her team smoked the 4×100, winning easily with her as the anchor.

The 7th/8th and 5th/6th medley relays were run together since neither age group had enough to fill all the lanes. That meant C and L would run the 200 legs in lanes next to each other. C was feeling better and laughing and bouncing around by the time the race began. There was a buzz among the St P’s parents when they saw our girls walking to turn three together. L has developed a little bit of a following the last two weeks, and the older parents remember how well C ran two years ago. Folks were watching S and I to see who we were pulling for.

The older girls had a decent lead when C got the baton. She took off and L waited and waited. When she finally got the stick C was 10–15 meters ahead. From our vantage point near the finish line we could see L closing, but couldn’t tell what the gap was when they exited turn four. They seemed awfully close, though. But then L drifted into C’s lane for several steps, realized her mistake, lost her rhythm, and jumped back in her proper lane. She never really got that rhythm back and handed off in second place. Her anchor quickly took the lead and the younger girls won the race.

In the city meet L’s team would have been disqualified, but in this one they still got the win. She said she looked up and saw two purple girls next to each other in the passing zone and got confused. Might have been ideal not to line the St P’s teams up in neighboring lanes, but that would have taken away the fun of the B girls running next to each other. Plus L learned a lesson in a race that doesn’t matter.

I think it was good for C to get the leg win over L. She’s been L’s biggest fan the past two weeks. It’s been fun to watch her find L after a race with a big grin on her face to congratulate her. After one race last week we could see her saying, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know you were that fast!” But I know it bothers her some that her “little” sister – they are basically the same height now – is having success while she struggles (relatively speaking). I keep telling her the only reason she’s having a hard time is because she doesn’t have time to practice between kickball, soccer, and bad weather. I wish she would have two weeks to get a bunch of practices in before City, but this week is pretty much shot with other games. Hopefully we can get her stretched out and loosened up enough that she can run well in her relay(s) at City.

How did S and I react while C and L were racing each other? We took turns cheering for both. “Come on, C! Come on, L! Come on, B girls!” is what I said. S shouted “Faster, L, catch her! Faster, C, don’t let her catch you!” Good, clean family fun!

Friday Playlist

“How the Race is Done” – Smile
This feels straight out of some 1986 College Rock compilation tape. Mostly because of that Peter Buck-like jangly guitar, which recalls early R.E.M. (with a lot more energy than R.E.M., though.) It has nothing to do with ’80s college rock, but the bass sound and style reminds me of Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament. The real kicker: these kids are from Turin, Italy. Does that blow your mind?!?!

“All About You” – The Knocks featuring Foster the Kids
I guess this song has been around since last October, but I just heard it for the first time this week. Twenty-some years ago I had a mix tape a buddy made for me that was filled with various electronic artists, ranging from Fluke to Moby to the Chemical Brothers. This song would have fit perfectly on that tape.

“Banquet” – Bloc Party
Sixteen years ago this month I launched my music podcast (RIP). This was one of the songs I played on that first episode. I heard it the other day. The Music Gods were looking out for me.

“Heaven” – Eliza Shaddad
Two Friday PL’s back I shared Shaddad’s wonderful “Blossom,” which she wrote to honor her Sudanese heritage. This week she released the first proper single from her upcoming album. I wonder if she’s ever listened to the Australian band The Superjesus, because this reminds me of their 2000 track “Gravity.” Doesn’t matter whether she was influenced by them or it’s a coincidence, this song makes me happy either way.

“Empire Builder” – Typhoon
I’ve gone through a stretch lately where I’m not digging much of what the SiriusXM alternative stations are throwing down when it comes to new music. This one made my ears perk up, though. I wouldn’t say it sounds like much else I normally listen to, which may be its biggest selling point. “Everybody’s angry, everybody’s lonely.” Damn, that kind of sums up the past year or so, doesn’t it?

“Stacking Chairs” – Middle Kids
Another terrific song from MK’s latest album, a disk that requires patience and a few listenings to fully connect with. This song has been giving me all the feels lately. Singer Hannah Joy wrote it about her relationship with husband and bandmate Tim Fitz. It is a perfect distillation of the group’s bright, wide-eyed optimism. Something about the repeated phrase of “I will be there” at the end of each chorus feels magical to me.

“Back Where I Belong” – Dumptruck
My brother-in-music E$ mentioned he had been listening to this band recently. I kind of remembered the name, but couldn’t recall if I ever listened to them. They were a college rock buzz band in the ’80s, which was before I was at all interested in college rock. I spent most of a day diving into their back catalog, and really enjoyed a lot of their work.

“Doowutchyalike” – Digital Underground
More on this below…


“The Humpty Dance” – Digital Underground
Well, shit. Last night we lost Gregory Jacobs, AKA Shock G, AKA Humpty Hump. To honor the legend I listened to the DU album Sex Packets from start to finish last night. Probably the first time I had done that since 1990, 1991, somewhere in there. It was even funnier, more charming, and original than I remembered. DU hung around for a few years, but never again had the success they had when they first burst upon the scene. They packed a lot into that album.

It was their originality that set DU apart, and made their songs timeless. You hear plenty of late ’80s production tricks on Sex Packets. But they aren’t overwhelming. Jacobs’ lyrics and delivery were so unique that they still stand out. I laughed a lot while listening last night!

Sometime in the early ’00s I was in California on business, making a long drive from the Central Valley to the LA area. While scanning through the FM dial I found a hip-hop station that Shock G had called into. He gave a long, rambling, likely weed-influenced interview talking about his success with Digital Underground, the rise of his protege Tupac, and the whole early ’90s hip hop scene. It was an amazing interview, and made that long drive much more tolerable. Rest in peace, brother.

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