Friday Playlist

After taking a break for the holiday, I’m offering you an extra jam-packed playlist at no extra cost.

“Rain In The Summertime” – The Alarm
After the remnants of Hurricane Beryl rolled through this past week, there’s a chance of rain every day for the next week. I won’t complain, though, as the showers will be scattered each day and will help moderate our temps just a little bit. By the way, did you hear that Beryl closely followed the path of April’s eclipse? Really makes you think.

“Red” – World News
Stereogum had Tom Breihan write the blurb for this track when it was released, which was perfect. Who better than the master of the Billboard charts to point out that this song sounds straight out of 1980’s college radio? Yet it’s brand new!

“Favourite” – Fontaines D.C.
A slight adjustment in direction for FDC. I like it a lot.

“OUTTAMYMIND” – Wings of Desire
Not sure exactly how to describe this song, but it fits the vibe of this week’s playlist.

“Hot Sun” – Wilco
Two weeks ago we honored the 20th anniversary of Wilco’s A Ghost Is Born. That same day the band dropped a new EP that featured a mix of traditional and instrumental tracks. This is the best of the bunch, and perfect for the middle of summer.

“Ananda” – Strand of Oaks
Timothy Showalter has never been shy about sharing what he was going through in his life via his music. Whether it was infidelity and strife in his marriage, a struggle with drugs and alcohol, or mental health issues, it’s always been right there in his songs. He seems like he’s in a good place these days, thus this track, which takes its name from a Sanskrit word for bliss and happiness. He says it explores the “unexpected sensuality of connection through spiritual practice.” OK then.

“Stuck In The Middle With You” – Stealers Wheel
Gerry Rafferty died a few years back. His partner in Stealers Wheel, Joe Egan, passed this week. This made it to #6 in the US in 1973 and re-entered our cultural memory when Quentin Tarantino used it in a particularly gruesome scene in Reservoir Dogs.

“Sleep All Summer” – Crooked Fingers
Our middle daughter’s goal for 2024.

“Rock Me Tonight” – Billy Squier
The week off left me with several terrific options for this week’s 1984 vid. Van Halen’s “Panama.” “Round And Round,” by Ratt. But the obvious choice debuted in the Top 40 at #39 in just its second week in the Hot 100. It isn’t Squier’s best song – “The Stroke” is the undefeated champion there – but it is still pretty solid. This video, though, sets it apart.

Widely considered one of the worst videos ever made, it either helped the song go to #15, or limited it to peaking there, depending on who you ask. But the backlash against the video was so strong that Squier never had another Top 40 pop hit.

Why a backlash you ask? Well, watch the video. It’s a little campy, a little cringey, but mostly goofy. However, in 1984, if you were an otherwise heterosexual dude and you made a video like this, not only would people think you were gay – which was one of the worst things you could be in 1984 – they would also stop liking your music so other idiots didn’t accuse them of being gay. Like the kid at my bus stop who told several of us that we were XXXs for listening to Prince. 1984 had some of the greatest music and movies ever. But society was still kind of fucked up. Some things never change, I guess. If a straight dude made this same video today, I’m not sure anyone would care.

You can read more about the video here.

Weekend Notes

Holiday Weekend

Not a bad Independence Day weekend at all.

S’s sister who lives in Denver and her family came to stay with us from Wednesday through Sunday. We had a couple cornhole tournaments (L beat her cousin in one, and she and I beat the cousin and his dad in the other).The kids went and played mini-golf in the midst of a downpour. We hit a hibachi place one night. And other assorted nonsense.

Our big family gathering was scheduled for our house on the Fourth, but as the forecast showed rain all day, we did a last-minute switcheroo and reserved some lanes at a bowling alley for Thursday at lunchtime. Somehow one of the eight-year-olds had the best score out of the 18 bowlers. The kids then played laser tag and spent some time in the arcade. That evening we went to one of S’s other sister’s homes for food and hanging out. A couple small showers pushed through, but once they passed the temperature dropped and the humidity disappeared and it felt more like early October than July 4.

Our re-scheduled pool party went off Saturday without too many issues. It was warm and breezy and just about perfect. After a couple cool nights, the pool water checked in at 85 degrees, which had to be the coolest it has ever been for our family gathering on July 4. Or July 6, I guess.

And now we’re less than a month from C and L going back to school. Summer flies.

Driver’s Ed

L officially started her in-car driving lessons last week. She’s knocked out three of her six required sessions. Or rather, will have knocked out three by the time you read this. Her third lesson is Tuesday morning. She seems to be doing pretty good. We haven’t had much time to practice because of basketball, family stuff, etc. but I had her drive to the lesson last Friday and she did just fine.

College Visit

C and I visited IU Monday, her first, official campus visit. It was pretty much the same routine that I went through with M two years ago. C seemed to enjoy it but wasn’t blown away or anything. IU is where she wants to go, her grades and test scores seem to line up with what they are looking for. That all makes it pretty easy, fingers crossed.

I don’t know that we’ll make any more official visits this summer. She wants to spend some time with M at UC this fall. M will start leading tours on campus then, so C can get both the official and personal perspectives. She might also visit a friend who will be a freshman at Ball State once classes start. Then we’ll see if she wants to squeeze in any official tours before it’s time to start sending off applications.

Right now she says she wants to study forensic psychology. She is interested in CSI-type stuff, and working for the FBI is one of her goals. Or just deal with patients individually. Plenty of time to dial it in.

We had lunch at the always tasty Village Deli. While we ate C asked me which was bigger, Bloomington or Lawrence. I guessed they were pretty similar, but a check of Wikipedia showed that Lawrence is roughly 15,000 people bigger! That surprised me. It also surprised me that Lawrence has grown nearly 50% since I was in school. Damn!

One interesting aspect of our visit was there are a group of pro-Palestine demonstrators who are camped out on the IU campus. This is kind of a big deal because there was a rather violent encounter between the protesters and campus/state police in April. I’m not going to get into that too much, but it was pretty clear that the authorities WAY overstepped their mandate that day.[1] However, a lot of people in Indiana didn’t care because the Palestinian cause isn’t really a hot issue in this state. And most Hoosiers figured the protesters were dirty, commie, hippies and deserved whatever they got.

Anyway, our information session included a disclaimer that IU supported the right of people to assemble peacefully and express their beliefs. We were encouraged not to engage with the demonstrators during our tour, but were free to go back and talk to them on our own if we wanted to.

There were two groups of demonstrators who parked themselves in an area where each tour group had to pass. They peacefully, but loudly, stated their cause as we passed, which was basically that IU programs have helped develop weapons used by the Israelis in Gaza and IU has investments in Israel they want the university to back out of. A few politely offered us pamphlets.

Another highlight of the day was that the iHeart Radio AT40 station extended its holiday week marathon of year-end countdowns into this week. So we drove down listening to the middle of the Top 100 songs of 1984, and drove home listening to a nearly corresponding section of the 1985 countdown. Not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but C napped most of the way down and back. I sure enjoyed the music, though!

  1. The state police brought in snipers that were based on tops of campus buildings and helicopters, and entered the fray in full riot gear. All to clear people who had been approved to assemble in an area set aside for protests and had shown no signs of being violent. Naturally the police ran out the old excuse that they believed the original protesters had been infiltrated by “outsiders” who were looking to agitate and force a violent encounter. They never provided any evidence for this argument. The Israel-Palestine situation is awful with no easy or clear answers. We don’t need American authorities making things worse here.  ↩

Monday Links

C and I are off to Bloomington for a campus visit today, so weekend notes will have to wait. To tide you over, a slew of links, including three oral histories.

I’m rarely at the beginning of any trends. But I did get my first Livestrong bracelet right around this time 20 years ago. I was wearing it when M was born, as my first pictures as a father can confirm.

I can’t take any credit for knowing that the bracelets would turn into a ubiquitous accessory within a few months. I was just buying something from when they were first released, and there was a suggestion to add one to my basket at checkout. This must have been shortly after they were first released, based on how quickly they became impossible to find. I liked Lance Armstrong. I was into everything Nike. My step-dad was a cancer survivor. Why not for a buck?

One of the proudest moments of my life came a few weeks later when one of our neighbors’ kids, who was in middle school at the time, came running over to me when I was working in the yard to show off his Livestrong bracelet.

Of course, we all know that Livestrong bracelets and clothes went from being everywhere for nearly a decade to something no one wanted to be seen in again. Makes sense for a trend that I was onto at the start.

Anyway, this is a look back at how a 15-cent ring of silicone changed the world.

Whole companies now exist to manufacture silicone bracelets—tens of millions each year—in every color of the rainbow, customized for specific types of cancer, for other diseases, or as individual memorial totems. That all started with a little band of yellow.

Making the Band: An Oral History of the Livestrong Bracelet

I’ve avoided any reviews or discussion of the new Beverly Hills Cop movie because I want to hope it’s decent and not be disappointed when I watch it sometime this week. But I did read this spoiler-free breakdown of the series.

Ashton: I remember the “supercops” thing in the first one. Well, Eddie made all that up. It was just all made up. He said, “Wait a minute.” He walked away for a while and he came back and he says, “OK, I’m ready.” And then it was a three-shot with me and Judge and Eddie, and Eddie’s going, “These guys are supercops. You ought to give ’em capes.” I was trying not to laugh.

The Heat Is On, Again: The Oral History of Axel Foley

This history of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story features one of the greatest celebrity anecdotes I’ve ever come across.

Williams: I don’t really spend money in strip clubs. I’m making sure that I’m OK for work the next morning. I’m in the bathroom, and Vince is in there. I’m like, “Hey, I’m gonna head back to the hotel.” He’s like, “What are you talking about?” I was like, “You know, we gotta work in the morning.” He’s like, “No, no, no, no.” He pulls out $400, gives it to me, and he goes, “You go back out there, and you make me proud.” So I was like, “OK, I guess I’ll stay for a little longer.” We had such a great time.

Go Balls Deep: The Oral History of ‘Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story’

In advance of the latest Crowded House album, Neil Finn got the full treatment at Stereogum. A terrific, first-hand review of his career.

We’ve Got A File On You: Neil Finn

Where my weather geeks at? A cool site that shows which of the many forecasting tools out there have been most accurate for your location recently.

Forecast Advisor

While working on a recent RFTS post, I came across this piece about the history of AT40. I loved this line about the catch phrase I named the series for.

It was a very Casey Kasem thing to do. He felt compelled to provide a bit of philosophical advice for listeners — especially the younger ones — rather than simply say goodbye. Coming from anyone else, it might have sounded a bit corny but it sounded just right coming from Kasem. It was all part and parcel of making a countdown show more than a list of songs.

“American Top 40” is a Vital Chapter of Music History

Friday Vids

No true playlist this week. Instead I’ll share two fun videos I’ve been sitting on for a few weeks.

First, clips of classic Peanuts cartoons edited to somewhat match the classic Boston songs “Foreplay/Long Time.”

Next, someone recreates New Order’s “Blue Monday” using a staggering variety of Casio instruments.

June Media

Movies, Shows, etc

The Americans, seasons one and two
I’m finally doing it: devoting this summer to re-watching one of my very favorite TV shows. My original plan was to try to knock all five seasons out in June. But as I can’t watch more than a couple shows a night, even if I love something, and there were a lot of basketball nights in the month, I only got through the first two. Guess what? It still holds up!

A-, A

Tour de France – Unchained, season two
Required viewing to prep for this year’s race. Last year, based on my viewing of season one, I was pulling for Jonas Vingegaard. This time, Tadej Pogacar came across as much more normal and empathetic. Weird.


The Bear, season three
I just wrote about this Tuesday!


Pearl Jam – 2024 – Los Angeles, CA – May 22nd
I watched/listened to this and began getting very excited about seeing them in a couple months. Eddie sounds great. Then he got sick last week and they’ve had to cancel the rest of their European tour, which makes me nervous for the Indy show.

A for show, D- for vibes

Shorts, YouTubes, etc

10 Things The Bear’s Ebon Moss-Bachrach Can’t Live Without
Bear content season!

Weird Science: 20 Things You Never Knew!
Eighties movie trivia is never a waste of your time.

I’m sick
Not our normal Beau Miles bullshit. An interesting turn of events.

The Victims of Eddie Van Halen
Victims seems a little harsh, but confirms that EVH had some issues dealing with others.

How This Photographer Crafted His Vintage Adventure Van
Ahh to be young and think this was a good idea.

Will Ferrell Acceptance Speech | 2011 Mark Twain Prize
I had never seen this before. My man Sir David V suggested it when I was in KC. It is outstanding, especially the part about his wife. Or wives…

Car Content

Lucid Air Sapphire is The Best Performance Sedan Ever Made!
Newest entry on my If I Won The Lottery car list. I laugh at how so many young reviewers complain that Lucids look like old man cars. I think they look great. I ran that by my buddy who owns a Lucid and he replied, “Well, we are old men now.” Yikes!

My Garage Update – June 2024
Kyle Conner has become a huge part of my media diet since February. I’ve watched tons of his videos and listened to hours of his podcasts in my car journey. I’ve always wondered how many cars he actually owned. Well, if you don’t want to watch over an hour of him breaking it down, I think the answer is 20. And that’s before the loaners he has for reviews and ones his business officially owns. Now I wonder where a dude his age has the money for 20 cars, plus insurance, plus registrations, plus maintenance. Surely not just from YouTube earnings.

Meet The Tesla That Won’t Die: 430,000 Miles On One Battery! Episode 1
Range Test! How Far Can a 430,000-Mile Tesla REALLY Go? Episode 2
Man, what a coup to parlay free Supercharging into a cornerstone of your business! Not sure why they’re being so stingy sharing the next vid in the series.

I Drive The Chevy Equinox EV For The First Time! Full Tour, Software, Comfort, & DC Fast Charging
Chevy is trying. I don’t think they’re there yet. But at least they’re making an effort. Hopefully in a few years their prices come down and their offerings get a little better and we see more decent EVs in the $35–40K range.

Independence Day Playlist

Here we go! One of my favorite music days of the year!

Two new songs for 2024. We’ll see if any of you can pick them out. No fair peeking back to last year’s post: it’s the same Spotify playlist so the posts for the last five years all update to show the new additions. Happy Fourth of July to all!

The Bear, Season Three Review

We knocked out season three of The Bear over the weekend, binging six episodes Friday and four Saturday.

Before I dive in, a couple preliminary notes.

First, I had not heard official word that there will be a season four until after we finished. I believe I heard there might be another season, but not that it had been confirmed. Thus, when we paused things Friday night, I was a little concerned about how things were going to wrap up in the final four episodes. Turns out that season four, or at least part of it, was shot right after season three. There’s been no word about a release date, so maybe they just shot a few parts for continuity’s sake and will reconvene later this year for a summer 2025 release? Regardless, at least one more season of The Bear!

Second, this is such a beautifully shot show, and has such perfectly selected music, and is filled with such great actors, that even an uneven, possibly disappointing season like this one still delights in so many ways. It’s always been a gorgeous show to watch, but this year it went to another level in terms of pure visuals. So many stunning moments.

Now, calling it disappointing probably isn’t fair, but that’s in comparison to the bar set in the first two years. Like so many shows that move beyond season three, that third year becomes more about setup for what’s next than being as rich as its predecessors.

I think this season can be called disappointing largely because of how it ended. Season one ended with an immense sense of relief and hope for what was ahead. Season two’s finale was a big bummer, with Carmen melting down on opening night. But there was still a sense of accomplishment from actually getting the restaurant open and an eagerness to see what happened after that first night.

This time, though, it feels like the core of the show is spinning apart. Sydney is so dissatisfied with Carmy’s disfunction and controlling nature that she will surely take Shapiro’s offer to jump ship to where she has more control and security. Richie, having discovered how a prestige restaurant should be run, seems disgusted by every choice Carmen makes. Marcus is too expensive for what he provides (according to The Computer). Tina tries nobly, but often can’t handle the pressures of the dinner rush or meet Carmy’s expectations. Natalie just had a kid and her husband just won an important trial. She can turn her back on an enterprise that is home to exactly the kind of toxic relationships she does not want to expose her daughter to.

And Carmen is so inside his own head that he can’t relax and enjoy the reality of running the restaurant he’s always wanted. He has stacks of notebooks filled with incredible ideas. Yet he spends hours staring at plates me makes, tinkers with, and then tosses aside because they can’t reach the impossible ideal he thinks will earn the Michelin star he craves. He’s forgotten what great food is supposed to be about, and is wasting his own talent and that of his crew in his pursuit of perfection. He built this great team, empowered and inspired them, then totally undermines them when they are on the verge of success. Instead of all the good things he learned from Chef Terry and others, he’s repeating the negativity pumped out by Chef David.

Where the audience could once put up with his moods and tantrums, he’s become unlikable in almost everything he does. He was one the tortured artist with a dream. Now he’s just kind of a dick.

All of this is worth it because, I think and hope, it will lead to someplace very interesting next season. It’s just a bummer that so much time was spent without advancing the story very far.

I LOVED episode one. Thirty minutes of food and photography porn. It was quite a way to remind, refresh, and reset. I can’t recall another show ever taking that direction to set up a new season, devoting an entire episode to the process. It also ended up being a perfect setup for how cluttered Carmy’s mind would be by the end of the year. The soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, a constant drone that never either peaked or crashed, was a superb accompaniment.

We finally got Tina’s origin story! That was another of my favorite episodes of the season. You see where that fierce pride in her comes from. I think it helped that you know how it ends up, but her meeting and conversation with Mikey was a wonderful piece of TV. I like to think the tears in Liza Colon-Zayas’ eyes were because she knew what a powerful moment that was, not just because of her character’s emotions.

Little tidbit some of you might already know: the man who played Tina’s wife, David Zayas, is Liza’s real-life husband.

Another great episode: “Ice Chips.” Shockingly intimate moments between Natalie and Donna in the hospital. The intensity of them just looking and holding each other was as powerful as the screaming in season two’s “Fishes.” Them coming to an understanding of each other and Donna having to step aside when Pete shows up was a huge gut punch. I don’t think Donna is a super sympathetic character because she is SOOOO crazy. Sure, you feel sorry for how she is and how she got there. But you also see the havoc and pain she causes, especially in Sugar, and you want to tell her to knock it the fuck off. But the moment when she leaves Natalie’s room and you see life drain from her as she realizes she is alone again, was devastating.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but there were too many and too much of the Faks this season. When a show starts running out its comic foil more often, it generally means something is awry with the core story. In this case, I think they just needed 10 episodes and couldn’t quite get there, so padded each one with some Fak nonsense. Don’t get me wrong: I love the Faks! But like a powerful spice, they need to be used sparingly to avoid overwhelming the dish they are in.

Along those lines, John Cena was funny as Sammy Fak. But was he needed? His presence distracted. Just let Matty Matheson do his thing.

I didn’t get all the people who hated Claire’s introduction last year. Most of that criticism was that she was kind of formulaic and we never got to know much about her, thus her time on screen distracted from the story we were really interested in. I doubt those people will be pleased with how she floated in and out of this season, without ever being a big part of it aside from a couple scenes. And I guess this means she’s back next year?

Marcus is still the best. His eulogy for his mother was wonderful.

Favorite line of the year: Chef David telling Carmy “You basically made nachos” when he adds a dot of sauce to an already spare dish. Joel McHale is so good in his limited moments as David.

Another good line, this time from Richie: “Chef Carmen uses power phrases ’cause he’s a baby replicant who’s not self-actualized.” I love self-actualized Richie!

Richie is totally taking Jess to his ex-wife’s wedding, isn’t he? Good for them both. And good for Richie and his ex being civil to each other for their daughter’s sake. I loved their scene where they are having a normal, adult conversation then occasionally scream at their daughter not to eat something she finds on the playground.

Interesting to read theories about the Chicago Tribune review. I’m not totally convinced Carmen read it, but instead wonder if those words that flashed on the screen were another product of the mess in his head.

However, some TV critics think he did read it. One thought it was a bad review. One thought it was mixed, praising The Beef side of the business while dinging The Bear side. And another thought it was actually a positive one that pointed out that, like so many other new places, it needed some time to work out the kinks and find its focus.

I’m not sure any of it matters. Even if the review was positive, does that end up reinforcing in Carmen that he’s on the right path and he doesn’t need to make concessions that will bring The Bear at least to a break-even point? And, thus, Cicero pulls the plug? Might Syd be so far gone that she will take Shapiro’s offer no matter what the future of The Bear is? Is season four all about Carmy and Syd going two different directions because that was inevitable?

At the Ever funeral dinner, we see all these famous chefs, many of whom have worked together but eventually scattered out on their own. Great chefs rarely stay together for long. Even if Carmen cleans up his act and The Bear begins making money, Sydney is destined to take her own journey at some point.

One review of season three I read drew some parallels between the arc of The Bear and Ted Lasso. That writer suggested season four will follow the Lasso lead of putting everyone in a good place before it wraps up. I think we all want that to happen. But on The Bear, I’m wondering if a happy ending means the crew we’ve come to love so much end up going off on their own rather than conquering the world together.

There were plenty of high points in season three. Overall, though, it was frustrating because of its lack of focus. Or, perhaps, it was more focused on what’s ahead than what was in the present. I hope the writers know what they are doing, get their groove back for season four, and return the show to where it was in seasons one and two.


Weekend Notes

Originally I planned on taking this week off. We have family coming in on Wednesday, holiday activities the rest of the week, and a busy two days before all that. But plenty happened over the weekend and I have a couple other posts nearly ready to go, so looks like we’ll slide into the holiday on a nearly normal schedule.

NBA Draft

What a weird-ass year. L had a workout Wednesday night so I wasn’t able to watch much of the first round live. I did sit through most of the second round Thursday to track the two Jayhawks.

I say it was a weird draft because in the various NBA podcasts I listen to, there were wild swings in opinion on what the analysts thought of almost every picks and trade. One person would love Houston taking Reid Shepherd at #3. Another couldn’t believe the pick and sees Shepherd, at best, as a backup for the next 10 years. Same for Memphis taking Zach Edey. One guy thought it was an amazing, possibly season-changing, pick. Another isn’t convinced Edey can play in the NBA for more than five minutes a half. Select just about any first round pick and you can find the same range in opinion.

Super bummed that Johnny Furphy had to to sit through the first round. He allegedly got good intel that he would go in the first 30 picks. The NBA thought that, too, thus extending the invitation to the green room Wednesday. By all accounts he likely would have returned to KU had he known he was not going to be a first rounder, which is the true bummer because I think he would have been a fantastic college player in year two.

Now it is cool that he ended up with the Pacers. As of this moment I’m not sure where he fits in, both because of his youth and need to get stronger, and the Pacers current roster construction. He has G-League For A Year written all over him, then maybe he can carve out a role with the big club in the ’25–26 season. Unless Kevin Pritchard has some more moves ahead which will open up an opportunity to play in Indy this year.

I also felt bad for Kevin McCullar. New York might be the ideal franchise for him, if/once he gets healthy, as Coach Tibbs loves guys who are dogs on defense. But this is a player who was generally regarded as one of the best in college basketball and a top 10 pick back in December. Then a stupid injury, and then injuries, derailed his season, KU’s season, and his draft hopes. Because of his size and defensive prowess, he will catch on somewhere. It will take a lot longer to make the money he seemed to have already banked six months ago, though.

I laughed at how like 90% of the guys interviewed after they were drafted mentioned how they were versatile. Saying it doesn’t always make it so, but it’s clear their agents got that buzzword in their heads before they started the draft prep process.

Bronny…I’m so torn on all of it. I don’t think he’s an NBA player right now, and believe there’s a 0% chance he would have been drafted this year were he not LeBron’s son. If the Lakers are smart, he won’t spend a day in the NBA this year – unless they get eliminated from playoff contention and call him up for the last game or something – and he can work on his game without the full spotlight on him. But the Lakers aren’t always a smart organization, at least when it comes to giving LeBron what he desires. I think LBJ legitimately wants Bronny to earn a spot on his own. But if the team is struggling in February, there’s going to be pressure to add Bronny over an established trade target. I hope it all works out for Bronny. He seems like a good kid and has handled the process well. There’s just an enormous amount of pressure on him to succeed.

I do think it is kind of garbage that agent Rich Paul was allegedly calling other teams and telling them not to draft Bronny, threatening that he would play in Australia if they did. Mostly because I don’t think anyone else really wanted to draft him. There were much better guys to take second round flyers on, and LBJ has expressed no interest in playing anywhere other than LA. I thought it was less about nepotism or entitlement than making Bronny seem better than he actually is.

I still think not drafting dudes because they are 22–23–24 years old is dumb. Sure, they may not have the ceilings that 19–20 year olds have. But you can also often plug them into roles a lot easier than those kids that are still learning. Teams that want to win now should never pass on a guy that can step in from day one and be a rotational player.

Kid Hoops

2–2 week last week to end the summer for CHS, leaving them at 13–7 for June. Which isn’t bad considering their roster.

It was a tough week for L. She got beat up physically in games and verbally by her coach and a couple teammates. This is moratorium week in Indiana. The time off comes at the perfect moment.

There were clear lessons for her from a month of varsity-level ball. She needs to get tougher and not shy away from contact. Improve her ball handling and passing a lot. Keep working on her shot. Not let her coach yelling at her get inside her head.

In reality just about all of her teammates have glaring holes in their games. Everyone needs the two-to-three more inches in height she could really use. Everyone could stand to shoot better. She’s a 5’6”-ish sophomore who will play a lot of minutes some games, and likely really struggle in some other games. That’s not too bad in the grand scheme of things.

Between Thursday night’s games there was a little break and she was out shooting with teammates, having fun, and she kept drilling shots. I told her on the way home she needs to find a way to translate that freeness from the moments when she’s messing around into games. If she can do that, it covers up for a lot of flaws.

She had two, one-hour private lessons last week, and a two-hour practice with her travel team Sunday. I’m sure she’ll want to get up early and shoot at least a couple days over the week off. The grind never ends.

Euro Sport

Man, what an embarrassing Euro 24 for the Italians. Can’t score, not talented enough to muddy up the games and hope for a 1–0 win anymore. Almost as embarrassing for the English, who are extraordinarily lucky to be moving on to the quarterfinals. Spain looks phenomenal. Such a shame they will face Germany in Friday’s quarterfinal.

I bought a Peacock subscription Friday night and was up early Saturday to start watching this year’s Tour de France. A completely amazing first stage, which featured the most total climbs ever in an opening day.

The winner of the last two tours, Jonas Vingegaard, suffered a horrific crash in April and almost didn’t enter this year’s Tour. But he’s looked totally healthy through two days. We’ll see if he can keep it up over another 19 days of racing.

Tadej Pogacar, the winner in ’20 and ’21, is the heavy favorite and was in yellow to start today’s race, but four other riders, including Vingegaard, were tied with him for overall time.

Keep checking this space for Tour updates I’m sure you are all very interested in.

Friday Playlist

I’m putting this list together late Thursday, for reasons I’ll get to in a moment, so it could take some weird turns.

“Summer Girl” – HAIM

“Save It For Later” – Eddie Vedder
We were busy with the last night of summer league ball Thursday, so I couldn’t give any attention to the biggest event on TV: season three of The Bear. There’s been a lot of Pearl Jam/Eddie Vedder through the show’s first two seasons. EV recorded this, a song often added on to “Better Man” at Pearl Jam shows, for season three. I’m looking forward to seeing how it is used over the weekend.

“Homesick” – Glimmer
These kids call their sound “grungegaze,” which seems about perfect.

“Everything At Once” – Bleach Lab
I quite like this song, which comes from Beach Lab’s debut album that was released last year but was in my Discovery Weekly playlist this week. I just came across a totally fawning review of the album and may need to check out the whole thing.

“The Last Words Of Sam Cooke” – Barry Adamson
Interesting subject for a song. I could not dig its groovy, 60s vibe more.

“Return Of The Grievous Angel” – The Raveonettes
I first discovered these Danes 20 or 21 years ago. Seems like I was listening to them right before M was born. Their sound hasn’t changed much over the years. That’s not a bad thing when they still sound this good.

“Just for Once” – The Building
Spotify spit this out for me the other day. It had been awhile. So long, in fact, that I forgot that this band is the side project of The War on Drugs multi-instrumentalist Anthony LaMarca. It sounds like a mid-point between TWOD and Wilco.

“Theologians” – Wilco
Speaking of Wilco, I know I was listening to this around the time M was born, because A Ghost Is Born came out 20 years ago this week.

“Blood” – Pearl Jam
I had to slap this together late Thursday because I’m off Friday morning to do some bloodwork in preparation for my annual checkup next week. Because I have to fast for it, I scheduled it super early, and look forward to eating an unhealthy breakfast immediately after. Then maybe coming home and napping. Anyway, I’m also thinking about screaming “IT’S. MY. BLOOOOOOOOOOOOD.” when the tech jabs me.

“That Summer Feeling” – Jonathan Richman
A reminder that one of my favorite music days of the year is coming up next week. This song is to summer what my Independence Day playlist is to the Fourth of July.

“Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.
Another big one! Cracking the Top 40 at #29 in just its third week in the Hot 100, it was on its way to #1 for three weeks at the end of the summer. An iconic song from the greatest summer for music ever. Of course, things got messy when Huey Lewis sued Parker for ripping off “I Want A New Drug.” They settled, and a confidentiality agreement was included in the settlement. Fifteen years later Parker sued Lewis for breaking that agreement in a VH1 Behind the Music episode and won his own settlement. Life takes weird turns sometimes. The movie was better than the song.

Reader’s Notebook, 6/27/24

Chain Gang All-Stars – Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
I almost stopped reading this book twice, despite the critical acclaim it has received. The opening chapters seemed repetitive as Adjei-Brenyah slowly introduced a series of characters through similar sets of events. They are all convicted felons working to earn their freedom by participating in the Chain Gang All-Stars, a competition where inmates fought each other in a gruesome, ramped-up, American Gladiators-style competition. Survive long enough and your record gets expunged and you go free. The catch is each battle is to the death, so the odds of winning enough fights to be released are extremely low.

The felons who survive over time become celebrities, all of their daily activities recorded and broadcast for an eager public. They get sponsors and special treatment. Stadiums are filled with adoring fans who dress like them and repeat their catch phrases.

Once the story settled and moved beyond that introductory third or so, it got much better. One particular Chain, or team of competitors, is led by two women who are both deep into their careers. One is approaching enough wins to earn her freedom. The other is not far behind. It turns out that the rules can be changed, on the fly, to make gaining freedom nearly impossible.

Throughout, Adjei-Brenyah sprinkles footnotes that point to the reality of our American prison system. Despite our society’s alleged abhorrence of “cruel and unusual” punishment, there are countless examples of prisoners being treated in cruel and unusual ways. The Chain Gang All Stars is just a natural progression from that, combining our love for spectacle, competition, and reality TV with a new way to punish our worst criminals.

I think that’s the most interesting part of his story. He is far from the first to get the reader/viewer to root for people who are, genuinely, the bad guys. There are many moments when the reader is bluntly reminded that these are not good people. In the process, though, he gets you to think about complex subjects like prison reform, what punishment is appropriate for people who have murdered and raped, how much should we consider the conditions the incarcerated were raised in or lived in when determining the price they must pay for their crimes, and what role should the context of a crime play when imprisoning the perpetrator? The book doesn’t leave you feeling good about any of it.

Fortunately, we would never stoop to this level as a society, turning convicted criminals into reality stars and watching them brutally murder each other every week, right? Well, unless you are a truly horrific person running for office on a platform of denigrating and sub-humanizing anyone who doesn’t fit your narrow view of what a real American is.

OK, that’s not fair. He just wants immigrants to fight each other for sport. He didn’t say anything about it being to the death. But slippery slopes and whatnot…

The Wager – David Grann
Another fine yarn from Grann, this time about an 18th century British ship that struggled and then wrecked in the heavy seas while attempting to round Cape Horn and the aftermath, which included multiple mutinies, multiple escape paths for the survivors, and multiple trials in England for those who made the long journey home.

Grann admits at the very beginning he wasn’t there, and is recreating events as best he can from the records that survived. That might be the most remarkable thing about this book: that so many public records do exist from the small number of men who survived the initial shipwreck and made it back to England. One log/journal was especially rich in detail and allowed us a deep look into what the men experienced. That’s just enough material to turn this into a super-engaging read.

There are some similarities to the experiences of Ernest Shackleton and his crew in their failed Antarctic expedition nearly 200 years later, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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