Friday Playlist

Let us continue our adventure through the flood of (mostly) new music that has arrived with spring.

“Understand” – The Cry
The Cry are one of those un-searchable bands. There are albums named The Cry. A TV show. A movie. Books. Enough noise that search engines find it very difficult to spit out information about the actual band, which is kind of obscure to begin with. From what I was finally able to dig up they were apparently big with skaters around 1990 then went away. They have reformed and are putting out new tunes, and I love this one. It’s subtle swagger, that mix of sounds that has some ’60s, some ’80s, some surf, some post-punk, some lo-fi. Good stuff.

“Blossom” Eliza Shaddad
I’ve been a huge fan of Shaddad for quite awhile now. This sounds like nothing she’s released before. She wrote it to honor her Sudanese heritage. It is wonderful.

“Last Day on Earth” – beadadoobee
Bea Kristi continues her one-woman ’90s revival.

“Into the Blue” – The Joy Formidable
I gave up on this band awhile back, but this song has my full attention.

“Off Grid” – Holiday Ghosts
Some glorious jangle-pop that sure sounds Australian to my ears. But these kids are actually Brits.

“Monsters” – Hits Like a Girl with Bartees Strange
Summer is getting nearer. This seems like a song for young folks to listen to while driving around with their windows down and holding hands with their sweetie.

“Trippin’ On a Hole in a Paper Heart” – Stone Temple Pilots
Man, STP… One of the most maddening bands of the grunge era. I could write about them for a long, long time. Fortunately a lot of other folks did a few weeks back when the 25th anniversary of their Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop passed and I am off the hook. I was checked out on them by the time it was released, but this song always did bang. If Scott Weiland could have overcome his personal demons STP would be a Mt. Rushmore band of 1990s rock. As it was, they had moments when they soared as high as anyone. And enough stumbles along the way to drag them out of the elite.

Reader’s Notebook, 4/8/21

Can’t Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop’s Blockbuster Year – Michaelangelo Matos
My spring break read seems like it was written directly for me. Matos takes a deep look at all of the music of 1984. It begins with Thriller dominating the music world in late 1983 and carried through to mid–1985 and Live Aid. Along the way he spends nearly equal time digging into the biggest artists of the year – Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper, and Tina Tuner – along with many, many other artists who cracked the Top 40 that year. There are also some interesting and necessary side tracks into underground/college/indie rock, heavy metal and hardcore, and, most importantly, rap music.

I mean, come on! Is there a more perfect book for my interests than this?

I will say I didn’t completely love it. It is a little choppy at times. I don’t know if that was because of Matos’ writing style, or because I read it on a Kindle which may have made some transitions that were smooth on paper abrupt on the screen. And, I have to admit, I already knew a lot of the big points he hit. I wanted more obscure facts that made me put the Kindle down and immediately text friends with tidbits. “Did you know…”

That said, since it scratched one of my favorite itches, I’m not going to complain about it too much.

Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney
I read, and did not understand the hype for, Rooney’s Normal People last year. I recognized her writing ability, but the story itself just did not do much for me.

This book is also based on a young person struggling to figure out who she is.

In this case it is Frances, a 21-year-old student and poet, who has found some acclaim performing spoken word pieces with her former girlfriend around Dublin. At a party she meets Nick, a 32-year-old semi-famous and very handsome actor. After some brief flirtation over several weeks, Frances and Nick fall into an affair that becomes relatively serious. Frances keeps it from her ex-girlfriend, who is still her best friend and sometimes roommate. Nick keeps the affair from his wife, who has had at least two affairs over the course of their marriage, which had become loveless and difficult.

Their affair ebbs and flows, and both Frances and Nick become self-destructive in small ways along the way.

I struggled with their relationship. Maybe it’s because I never had an affair with a married woman 11 years my senior when I was 21, but I did not understand why Frances would say things she said, or have expectations she had. Perhaps they are normal in a relationship like this. The book came awfully close to veering into territory of Normal People where I didn’t like the characters or the choices they were making.

But I came around somewhat to Frances and Nick, as they became more open in their communication with each other.

And I became fascinated by some of the unstated questions that Rooney posed to her readers. What are your expectations when you begin any relationship, let alone one with a partner that is already in a relationship? What is someone thinking who enters an affair but has no desire to end their marriage? Why do people put stable relationships in jeopardy for new ones that have no guarantee of happiness or safety? And an endless number of other questions about relationships and gender and what it’s like to be young and trying to figure out who you are and what you want in a complicated world.

I imagine this is a good book club book because you can spin conversations in all kinds of interesting directions.

That element is what saved the book for me. And I really enjoyed how Rooney ended it. The final sentence is a perfectly ambiguous line that reinforces the questions the book brought up and gives the reader all kinds of room to imagine what happened next.

College Hoops Thoughts

Well, we now live in a world where Scott Drew has a national championship and Kansas is facing probation. Just fucking great. If I could, I would light college basketball on fire and let it burn a slow, painful death.

OK, that’s a little harsh. And, honestly, I can deal with whatever is going to happen to KU. It’s the Scott Drew shit that really pisses me off. Phony, shady m-fer.

But there’s nothing I can do about it so I’m just going to ignore it. Call it an asterisk, Covid-impacted title. I watched the first half of Monday’s championship game then turned it off. That was about as impressive of a performance as I can recall in a title game. Actually, as much as I hate Drew, I like most of the dudes on the Baylor squad. And that’s what they are, dudes. Those guys can play! But I did not need to watch them actually win the title.

As they scorched the nets in the opening 10 minutes, I grew more and more bitter, thinking of all the great KU teams that couldn’t do the same. The teams that wilted under expectations rather than embracing them and going out and just destroying whatever fools got in their way like Baylor did this year.

It didn’t help that last year’s KU team didn’t get a chance to play out the tournament and potentially do the same. As I said a year ago, KU may well have lost to some shit Missouri Valley team in the second round. But they also might have hung the 16th Final Four banner and added a fourth NCAA title. Fucking Covid.

The closest KU ever came to what Baylor did last night was in the 2008 national semifinals, when they crushed North Carolina in the opening twelve minutes, leading by 24 at one point. They blew 20 of those points and made us all sweat. Then in the title game it took the greatest shot in program history and five extra minutes to secure the title. Which, to be honest, made for a more epic game and set of memories. But it would have been nice for KU to do in a championship game what they did to Marquette in the 2003 Final Four, just crushing their souls in the first 15 minutes and making the second half a glorified practice.

For all the tournament success KU has had in my life, that long list of great teams that shrunk when it mattered most always gets extra attention this time of year. That’s the nature of being a fan. The What Ifs are easier to contemplate than the concrete, happy memories of success.

But, seriously, fuck Scott Drew.

I was pulling hard for Gonzaga. Not just because I hate Scott Drew or because I have zero love for the non-Big 8 members of the Big 12. It would have been cool to have an undefeated champion, so all the old Hoosiers around here could shut the fuck up about the 1976 IU team. I don’t think anyone questions Gonzaga’s bona fides anymore, but I think they deserved the final validation of what Mark Few has built in Spokane. Which is dumb. If he never wins a national title I don’t think that in any way negates anything he has accomplished or reduces the strength of the program. There is zero doubt Gonzaga is one of the best programs in the sport, and it will be as long as Few continues coaching the Zags.

Now we are officially onto the silliest off-season in college hoops history. Kids transferring left and right. Teams completely revamping their rosters in the course of a week.

KU has been very active so far, already adding two players with strong indications they will add at least two more in the next few days. It seems like Bill Self has filled some holes for next season and added some better depth for the next few years. I’m already starting to get worried about playing time. There could still be some surprises in who is back next year. As the roster stands today, though, I see it being very hard for a couple of these new guys to get any time on the court next year. Kids these days hate to wait and take the long path to success. Redshirts of highly recruited kids rarely happen unless an injury forces it upon them. Right now, though, it seems like the best move for a few guys that are currently supposed to be on KU’s 2021–22 roster would be to sit out the year and then hit the court running the following year.

I guess that’s why Bill Self gets paid a bazillion dollars a year, to figure this shit out.

Ah, speaking of Self’s contract, I heard from several non-KU friends who were surprised by KU signing him to a “lifetime” contract last week. Partially because of the clear “Fuck you” message it sends to the NCAA. They were also confused about why you suddenly give a guy his age a lifetime contract.

The new contract was purely for recruiting purposes. His previous deal was done next year. If he signed an X-year extension, that would immediately be used against him. “Well, his contract runs out your sophomore year. Are you sure he’ll still be there your junior year?” I guarantee the Scott Drews of the world would say that shit. This removes that overt question, although I’m sure some will still obliquely raise it. Plus, John Calipari has a similar deal at Kentucky, so Self is on equal footing with him.

As far as the NCAA stuff, KU has clearly been 100% behind Self every step of the process. It wouldn’t make sense to suddenly get wishy-washy about it. Give him protection against any penalties that are levied directly against him while keeping stability in the program until everything gets resolved and the ramifications of the case are both known and served.

KU has a new athletic director. I don’t know much about Travis Goff. Seems like he did good things at Northwestern, and worked under a highly respected boss who now runs the ACC. His name came up quickly after Jeff Long was shitcanned, and a couple people I know who have ties to the athletic program were pushing for him from the beginning. The past four KU ADs have all been some level of awful. The bar for success is pretty low. Hopefully he can hire a good football coach, hire good coaches in other sports when needed, and keep the programs that are doing well humming along.

Speaking of good hires Chris Beard to Texas seems like an absolute no-brainer. A relatively young alum who has already been to a Final Four now gets to go to one of the biggest athletic programs in the country with the financial backing and brand that gets him through every recruit in the nation’s front door. Texas might finally live up to all the potential that program offers? Could be scary.

The only good thing about this and Baylor’s title is perhaps the Big 12 will be super competitive at the top. I don’t think anyone is going to win 14 straight championships again, let alone string together more than a couple. Maybe that’s good for KU, not that winning the Big 12 was ever easy during the streak. If the top of the Big 12 is more like that top of the ACC, with Duke, Carolina, and a couple other schools all being national title contenders each year maybe that makes tournament games easier for KU.

Then again maybe the grinder of the conference season wears everyone out and the Big 12 doesn’t get another Final Four team for a long time.

It’s sports, you never know.

In other hires, Indiana hiring Mike Woodson seems weird. Especially with Thad Motta coming in as an administrator and Dane Fife coming in as an assistant. Hoosier fans seem happy, though. The optics and areas of responsibility seem weird to me.

North Carolina hiring Hubert Davis quickly was super predictable. He’s been rumored to be the coach-in-waiting for a long time. There was about zero chance UNC would go outside their family. I wonder if they even interviewed another candidate. I guess we’ll find out if Hubert ready/capable.

Car Shopping Chronicles, Part 1

Welcome to a new series here on Ye Olde Blog. It will focus on my process to pick my next vehicle.

I know, exciting, right?!?! Feel free to skip if you’d rather read my normal bullshit about sports, music, and books.

For about five months I’ve been spending A TON of time researching what I should get when the lease on my Chevy Tahoe expires in July. As you may recall we did a little car shopping in November, but that ended up being for S rather than me. Which is a good thing; she would have hated driving the Tahoe.

Although I still have over four months to make a choice, I’ve decided to really dive into the process. That means starting test drives now to give myself plenty of time to find exactly what I want. Which is kind of a big change. I can only think of one time in my life when I spent more than a couple weeks picking out a car.

Last Friday I completed test drive number one. We’ll get to that, and others, in future posts.

For today I’ll start by counting down the cars that I’ve owned in my life.

  • 1992 – A hand-me-down 1985 Oldsmobile Calais from my mom. Not sexy, not fast, not loaded with options. But it got me around. I had no idea it was the 1985 Indy 500 pace car! Seems like I could have used that knowledge to my advantage back in the day!

  • 1996 – The first car I bought on my own. A used, 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier. It was red. I only remember test driving one other car the same day, a Pontiac Grand Prix that was sportier and had more features but also had something like 15,000 more miles on it and was still more expensive. I believe I spent $10,000 on the nose for this.

  • 1998 – My first new car purchase, a 1999 Toyota 4Runner. It was sweet, and probably my favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned.[1] Although I had just started at an entry level job making peanuts and was in the middle of a year living at home with my stepdad, this purchase made me feel like an adult. I can also confirm that the ladies liked it. Now whether they liked me as much is another question…

  • 2006 – The 4Runner served me well in my final years of bachelorhood and first years of marriage and fatherhood. But with kid #2 on the way, S and I realized we needed something that was more family-friendly than a large SUV. So we ordered a new Toyota Sienna. We love to tell the story of how S got a call from the dealer on her birthday saying, “Mrs. B., your minivan is ready!” She was not amused. “It’s not my fucking minivan!” I believe was what she told me when she hung up. Don’t piss off the pregnant lady! She kept driving her Volkswagen Passat and I drove the Swagger Wagon.

  • 2014 – We now owned a lake house and were about to buy a boat. S was driving a Volvo XC90, but it did not have a trailer hitch. So we sold the Sienna and moved me into a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Grand Cherokees are very nice; S has had two since this one. But the first one we bought kind of sucked. It had electronic issues. Despite having the fancy tow package it struggled to pull our boat the two times a year we needed to haul it around.

  • 2015 – After two summers of driving to the lake in the Grand Cherokee, we realized it didn’t have nearly enough space to get all the crap back and forth required for a successful weekend. Plus, with three kids we could never take anyone with us since the Jeep lacked a third row. So we sold the Volvo, S began driving the Jeep, and I got a Chevy Suburban. It was massive, and took a long time to get comfortable driving. But we used the hell out of it. We drove it to Kansas City/Jefferson City three times, and to Alabama for spring break. It towed the boat with ease. And we packed it full of shit on lake weekends.

  • 2018 – We were way over the mileage on the Suburban lease and were beginning to sweat whether to pay the mileage penalty or buy it when our lease was up in the fall. In April my Chevy sales guy called and said they needed some inventory for their used lot, would I be interested in them buying out my lease? When I asked if the mileage would be an issue he said, “Of course not, we get around that all the time!” (FYI, BTW.) Anyway, I went from a base level Suburban to a loaded Tahoe. Not quite as big but still huge, and this had just about everything inside you could ask for. It is very, very nice. My second favorite vehicle I’ve ever driven.

(Along the way S drove two Volkswagen Passats, the Volvo, a Mazda CX–5 which M now drives, and two more Jeep Grand Cherokees.)

So that’s where I’ve been. In my next post, I’ll lay out my priorities and preferences for my next purchase. I’m sure you’ll all be counting down the days until that drops!

  1. I’ve always struggled with whether to refer to SUVs as cars or trucks. They are built on truck platforms, but are they really trucks? You can’t throw a bunch of lumber and a tool box and a large dog in the back and drive around like you are Mr. Home Improvement. I once rented a large ladder that I brought home in the Suburban. I had to lash it down with multiple ropes, tie off the back gate so it would stay partially closed, and it was still semi-dangerous to get the ladder home and back. In a true truck that would have been no sweat. Every so often I’ll slip and call it a truck and the girls will all yell at me, “That’s not a truck!” So I generally use car or vehicle, and never truck. Your use may vary.  ↩

Friday Playlist

After a week away, and a week before with no playlist before that, it might take a few extra large playlists to dig through the pile of new(ish) music I have. You, my loyal readers/listeners benefit! So let’s get after it.

“A Rat Without a Tail” – Daniel Romano
A pretty dope song that recalls numerous influences, most notably scuzzy 1970s rock.

“Not Dead Yet” – Lord Huron
It’s been over three years since we’ve heard new music from Lord Huron. Thrilled that they have begun to trickle out new tracks from an unnamed/unannounced new release. Also thrilled that this fits in more with their core sound rather instead of them chasing the success they had with the majestic, but boring to me, ballad “The Night We Met.”

“Don’t Challenge Me” – Makers
I swear I’m losing it. I was 100% sure I had shared this a few weeks back but don’t see it in any previous lists. This is an amazing song I just discovered. It has a retro quality to it, for sure. I would have guessed this was from somewhere in the mid-90s, but looking to create a throwback vibe. So it blew my mind that this is from 1972!

“Like Butterflies” – Union of Knives
My love of Scottish music is well documented. This is not your grandfather’s Scottish music!

“April Skies” – The Jesus and Mary Chain
Speaking of Scottish music, these cats were one of the biggest bands to ever come out of the country. It’s been awhile since I’ve heard this one, and now is the perfect moment to share it.

“Reprogram” – The Pack A.D.
One more track from these Canadian scorchers before their songs begin falling out of my current favorites playlist.

“Some People Stay In Our Hearts Forever” – Middle Kids
The new MK album dropped the Friday before we left for spring break. I listened to it once before we left, once while we were away, and then Sunday when I was doing laundry. It’s an odd album, partially because it is filled with mid-tempo ballads and struggles to create any sense of momentum. Fortunately the back half of the album has a few tracks that pick up the pace and sound more like what I expect from a Middle Kids album. This is one of my favorites.

“Waterfall” – Wendy & Lisa
The Number Ones is about to wrap up 1987. A couple weeks back someone posted this video in the comments, I forget to what song, as a forgotten track of ’87. At first I had no memory of it. But when I heard the chorus, it triggered something in me. Not strong memories, but memories nonetheless. I’m not sure why I don’t remember it better because it is a completely delightful jam. There is no logical reason why it wasn’t a bigger hit (It peaked at #57). Maybe people were afraid of pissing off Prince since Wendy & Lisa were officialy split from him and the song didn’t get a record company or MTV push because of that.

Roy, Roy, Roy

Wow, in a shocker that is apparently not an April Fool’s Day joke, Roy Williams is retiring after 33 years as a head coach. I am equally surprised and unsurprised. Both because of his age and his demeanor in recent years, it has been fashionable to wonder if each season would be Roy’s last.

But I am honestly floored this is the year he pulled the plug. I did not think he would want to go out the way he did this season, with a mediocre (for Carolina) team filled with young guys that had the potential to get better over time. I thought he might try to hang on one or two more years to make a run at a fourth national title.

Apparently not.

Thus ends one of the most remarkable coaching careers in the history of the game. How many coaches go from being a long-time assistant at a top five program to head coach of another top five program and then go back to the first program?[1] No stints building the resume at smaller schools, riding the bench in the NBA, or otherwise taking their lumps to finally get a chance at a Blue Blood.

Roy arrived at KU a year before I did. Like a lot of people, when he was announced as the new coach in October 1988 I was confused that it wasn’t Gary Williams of Ohio State who was being introduced. “Who the hell is ROY Williams?” was the common refrain. His first year KU struggled under the weight of NCAA sanctions. But my freshman year he beat #2 LSU and #1 UNLV back-to-back in November, hung 150 on Kentucky in December, and led KU to its first #1 ranking in 30 years in January. I quickly joined the rest of the KU student section in chanting “Roy, Roy, Roy!” each time he entered the court from the locker room.

My sophomore year he coached a team that lost in the national championship game.

Two years later he got back to the Final Four.

Then things really got rolling. He started cleaning up in recruiting, bringing in Jacque Vaughn, Scot Pollard, Jerod Haase, Raef LaFrentz, Billy Thomas, and Paul Pierce over a three-year span. That group was the core of likely his best team, the 1997 team that lost just once in the regular season – in double overtime on a last-second shot off a loose ball in a classic game at Missouri – before laying an absolute egg against the eventual national champions Arizona in the Sweet 16.

The next year he had two first team All-Americans in LaFrentz and Pierce, but couldn’t survive the first weekend.

This was when he started to annoy KU fans. His skin got thinner. He acted like he was the only one who hurt when KU lost. He publicly said he would never recruit a player that North Carolina was also recruiting. After finishing second to Syracuse for New York native John Wallace, he said he would never recruit anyone from the east coast again because there were “too many schools to recruit against.” He blasted the KU students for not filling the stands one night against a 7th or 8th place Big 8 team when there were two huge midterms sucking up freshmen and sophomores, then publicly flirted with Tennessee who had just fired their coach. And there was the crying when his teams lost in March, and the insistence that “no other coach could be prouder of their team than I am of mine.”

And that’s just the stuff I can remember.

In the spring of 2000 I sent an email to some friends saying I would be fine if Roy left. I was tired of all the weirdness of his personality which I thought distracted from the team and their success. When Dean Smith retired a couple months later I was sweating it big time, and cheered with everyone else who raced to Memorial Stadium to watch him say “I’m stayin’!” He had a crop of great young players – Nick Collison, Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich, Jeff Boschee – and the removal of the lure of Carolina would surely mean he would face no more questions about leaving KU.

The next March he lost to Bill Self’s Illinois team in the Sweet 16.

The 2002 team was another of his very best, a squad that was perhaps the most perfect team he ever coached, filled with shooters and numerous ball-handlers and slashing athletes and multiple big men who were damn-near impossible to stop. That team lost to a Maryland team that was on a mission in the Final Four.

A year later Collison put the team on his back and they returned to the Final Four. The Monday of Final Four week North Carolina fired Matt Doherty and, suddenly, the college basketball world was focused on the certainty that UNC would hire Roy the day after KU’s final game.

What was a distraction to fans apparently wasn’t to the team, which absolutely destroyed Marquette in the national semifinal. But Roy’s stubbornness may have cost them a national title when he waited until KU was down 20 in the first half to put his best defender, Hinrich, on Gerry McNamara, who hit five 3’s. A furious comeback fell short because of missed free throws and an epic block by Hakim Warik. In the aftermath, Roy told Bonnie Bernstein, and the world, “I could give a shit about North Carolina right now.”

A week later he was the Tar Heels’ new coach.

Most KU fans were pissed, for a variety of reasons. My view was that everyone in basketball knew Doherty was getting fired and UNC would make a hard push for Roy. Roy knew what was going on just as well as we did. He could have made one call, to Dean Smith, and said, “Please, tell them to wait one week. Let me coach my team without this over my head,” and I think that would have been enough to delay things. I felt that by not doing that, he took the focus off his team and made it about him. I don’t think he wanted the attention to be on him. I just think he was so stubborn that he felt, “This is dumb, people shouldn’t be talking about it,” and honestly believed that the media would follow his thinking rather than the story. The questions about his future still would have been there. But they would not have been THE topic of the week, with that terrific 2003 team getting the bulk of the attention.

Would that have changed the result on that Monday in New Orleans? We’ll never know.

It was a strange dynamic between KU fans and Roy the next few years. We loved Bill Self, but as his first few teams struggled to figure out his system as Roy’s players cycled out, and Roy finally won a title in 2005, it was hard not to feel like we got the lessor in the exchange. Maybe it wasn’t Roy’s issues that kept KU from winning a title in his 15 years, maybe it was something about Kansas. Back-to-back first round losses in 2005 and 2006 made those comparisons worse. For some reason a lot of us used that as fuel to hate Roy more. As if the drama of his departure played a bigger role in KU’s relative struggles than the normal growing pains that come when a new coach steps in.

Then came the 2008 Final Four, and the epic matchup between KU and Carolina in the semifinals. KU played one of the greatest twelve minutes in Final Four history, absolutely blitzing UNC to the tune of a 42–18 lead. At one point Brandon Rush had scored as many points as the entire Tar Heels roster. Carolina mounted a furious comeback in the second half and got as close as four. I think a lot of KU fans – me included – would have given up on Bill Self, the Jayhawks, and/or college basketball forever if they blew that game. But KU had another run in them and won comfortably before claiming the program’s third NCAA title two nights later. Roy famously wore a Jayhawk sticker on his shirt and cheered for KU that night, to the consternation of many UNC fans. Roy won his second title the following year and I think most KU fans either didn’t care or were happy for him.

That changed things for a lot of KU fans. We were validated with a title. I sure softened toward Roy at that point. I still loved to make fun of him, rolled my eyes at all the pat expressions he used, and laughed when he lost. But I also wanted him to beat Duke when they played.

Self and Roy coached against each other two more times. In the 2012 Elite 8 their teams were tied with just over 2:00 left when Elijah Johnson hit a long 3, opening a 12–0 run that sent KU to the Final Four. Self famously threw a triangle-and-two defense at UNC in the second half which bogged down their offense. When Roy said, after the game, that he didn’t realize that was what KU was doing on D, we laughed and laughed, using this as evidence that Self was the better coach. Obviously we had come out on the better end of that 2003 coaching carousel! A year later even I felt kind of sorry for Roy when the Tar Heels were made the #8 seed in KU’s region, meaning a win in round one would force them to play KU in Kansas City. Naturally, when that game rolled around the Tar Heels totally dominated the opening 20 minutes, but faded quickly in the second half and KU won rather easily.

Roy added another title in 2015 and nearly got a fourth in 2016 were it not for (arguably) the greatest shot in NCAA Tournament history.

From afar Roy seemed to just get a little more Roy-ish each year. He snapped more at the media. Got his feathers ruffled by seemingly minor annoyances. And so on. The contrast to Self was jarring.

Self has always carried himself like someone who was completely comfortable in his own skin and believed he was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing. It was the most normal thing in the world that he was coaching Kansas, recruiting top 10 players, and dealing with the national media.

Roy, on the other hand, always seemed insecure and unsure of whether he really belonged as one of the greatest coaches in the game. I hate to bust out the pop psychology – no pun intended – but I’m sure some of that came from his childhood, growing up largely without his dad around. Some of it was because he was only a JV player at North Carolina. I think he felt he kind of stumbled into the Kansas job and that when the Carolina job opened, there would always be better candidates than him to take it.

Despite all those psychological and personality barriers, he was, no doubt, one of the best coaches ever. You can quibble with his methods, Lord knows I have and I’m sure there are plenty of Carolina fans he drove nuts. But the dude fucking won. A ton. Nine Final Fours, three titles, three losses in title games. Eighteen conference championships in 33 years. In the modern game, only Coach K can top that.

I hope Roy can return to Allen Fieldhouse soon, in front of a capacity crowd, to be honored for his entire coaching career. For all the issues I had with him and the way he left Lawrence, there is no doubt that it was Roy who made Kansas basketball into the modern juggernaut it is. Larry Brown revived the program. But his methods and personal foibles were so dodgy that they did not guarantee continued success. Roy worked his ass off get the best recruits to begin considering Kansas again. He won big games against name opponents on national TV that made the school a coast-to-coast brand. He revived and honored the history of the program and made it an integral part of its daily functions.

Most of my best KU basketball memories come from when I was in school there. That’s when it became the sports fandom that defined me. My best moments were tied to big KU wins. I would wallow in self pity when they lost, especially in March. I once, infamously, told a roommate who wasn’t into sports but was just trying to make conversation after an especially bad loss, that I didn’t talk after KU lost. Eventually I realized what a dickish thing that was to say and made fun of myself for it.

All of that was in the Roy era. Now that his career is over it’s easier to focus on all the great parts of his time at KU, ignore the messy ending, and appreciate what he meant to both the program and my life as a Jayhawk fan.

  1. Although KU was coming off a national title when Roy arrived, you can make a solid argument the school was only a top ten program at the time. Maybe even top fifteen. When Roy left, the program was firmly back in the top five.  ↩

March Media

Don’t think I’m going to add anything new in the next 24 hours, so I’ll go ahead and drop this and knock one item off my new month checklist.

Shows and Movies

Spring Baking Championship
It’s been awhile, but I finally decided to watch one of these shows that didn’t wasn’t focused on Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Easter. I’m not sure why I enjoy these so much. I’m not a huge baker. These shows are all kind of the same. But the same people have been watching The Bachelor for 20 years. I can watch a damn food show mindlessly.


Formula 1: Drive to Survive, season two
After I blew through season one in February I wondered if L might want to watch season two with me. Indeed she did. She loved it, although I think she enjoyed all the f-bombs that get dropped as much as anything. We’ve both taken a greater interest in F1 in general, which is apparently the new, hip thing to do. I watched much of Sunday’s first race, while she popped in-and-out. I think the show might be more exciting than the races, because it’s still auto racing. Plus I still have no idea who I support. Am I rooting for the driver or the car or the team?

I didn’t think season two was quite as compelling as season one, but providing some good father-daughter time balances that out. We started season three as soon as we got back from spring break.


Coming to America
Coming 2 America
In anticipation of the new Eddie Murphy movie in early March, I had to watch the classic. I tried to get the girls to watch with me, but they weren’t interested. Even when I told them it’s one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Kids…

Good news is that Coming to America still holds up, for the most part. There are some pacing issues; a few scenes drag on just a little too long and some closing shots would cut away much faster today. But otherwise it remains a classic. S laughed at me laughing in anticipation of my favorite parts.

As for the new version? I read two reviews after I watched. One was effusive, saying despite some obvious flaws it was still a highly entertaining and funny movie, just the flick we needed right now. The other blasted the movie for being lazy, having too many call backs to the original, and generally being mediocre.

Fortunately my view was much closer to the first opinion. I laughed loudly and often. I watched almost the entire movie with a smile on my face. Yes, there were some lazy moments and some plot elements that did not work well. There was almost no way this movie could stand up to the original, though. I went in expecting to be disappointed because of the comparison. The fact it was competent, entertaining, and pretty damn funny made it a success.

A+, B+

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse
I got down a Wikipedia rabbit hole one night that ended up with me reading about Marlon Brando and, eventually, Apocalypse Now. I did a quick search and found this documentary of the making of that movie on YouTube and fired it up right away. At first I could not remember if I had ever seen it. By the end I knew I had, but it’s probably been 15 years or so. AN is one of the greatest movies ever made, and this is an excellent companion as it shows what madness the main of the film was.


An absolutely harrowing story (fictional, I believe) of a British soldier who, on his first day serving in Belfast in 1971, gets separated from his unit during a riot and is forced to spend the night working his way from a Catholic neighborhood back to safety. After seeing a platoon-mate shot and killed next to him, he is chased and shot at, hides in a public restroom until nightfall, finds a friendly bar that explodes when a bomb intended for an IRA target goes off too quickly, is wounded by shrapnel and then stitched up and hidden by a sympathetic former army medic, kills one of the men trying to capture him, and is on the verge of being executed by IRA men when he is “saved” by undercover British officers who, in fact, also want to kill him because he saw that they were behind the bomb that had blown up earlier in the night.

Whew. A lot of shit for one dude in one night. The riot and chase scenes are wonderfully shot, making you feel like you are right in the midst of the chaos.



Why Mount Everest’s Height Keeps Changing
This month’s Science! entry.


Bee Removal: Backyard Shed
Equal parts fascinating and horrifying.


The Commute: Walking 90km to work

Beau Miles is back at it again, doing weird stuff in the name of changing his perspective, upsetting the routines of his life, and making his viewers open their eyes to the world around them. This time he walked 90 kilometers from his home to his office. This was not the first time he had done this, which somewhat reduced the impact of this walk. But I still enjoy watching him do his weird shit.


Lost Track New Zealand
Two mates from Australia travel around New Zealand on motorcycles in search of remote surfing locals. Just a beautiful piece to watch, although the guys themselves are not super interesting. What struck me was the courage in people like them, who live lives that are focused on just earning enough money to fund their travels and the gear required for their journeys. I’ve read dozens of books about people like this, but when I was in my 20s I never had the nerve to take even a year off and get out and see the world. There’s nothing wrong with taking family vacations and seeing other places from the very limited perspective that can offer. I’m not big on regret, but I do have a sliver of angst that I was not bold enough to take even one trip like this in my life.


Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 55

Chart Week: March 26, 1983
Song: “I Know There’s Something Going On” – Frida
Chart Position: #13, 21st week on the chart. Peaked there for three weeks.

One great thing about The Number Ones series is how it has forced me to re-evaluate artists I soured on over the years. Phil Collins is a perfect example.

I forgot how many massive hits he had. Dude had seven number ones and six other top tens as a solo artist. At one point six out of eight singles topped the Hot 100. He added six more top tens and a number one with Genesis. He was a menace!

I probably forget about how big he was because, like Whitney Houston, many of his songs were Adult Contemporary schmaltz. But where Whitney elevated her songs with her once-in-a-generation voice and fashion model looks, Collins was a pasty, balding British guy with a passable but not terribly impressive voice. He didn’t force his music into the cultural memory through the genius of his overt talent.

After reading Tom Breihan’s write-ups of Collins’ early Number Ones, though, I’m finding a new appreciation for his work. I still mostly hate his ballads. But when I hear his more up-tempo tracks, I no longer switch away immediately, and am able to find enjoyment in them.

Although Collins’ voice may not have been as unforgettable as Whitney’s, he did make an indelible mark on ‘80s music. While working with Peter Gabriel on his former Genesis bandmate’s 1980 solo album, Collins, along with producer Steve Lillywhite and engineer Hugh Padgham, accidentally developed what came to be known as the “gated reverb” sound. I don’t do well with technical descriptions of music. The easiest way to understand gated reverb is to listen to “In the Air Tonight.” The epic drum break near the end of the track is the ultimate gated reverb moment. Collins continued to use that sound on many of the biggest songs of his career.

Included in that list are songs he produced for or appeared with other artists. “Easy Lover,” his duet with Earth, Wind, & Fire’s Phillip Bailey is one example. His drums on “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” are nearly as memorable as Bono’s line.[1]

And then there was this track. Somehow I didn’t remember until recently that Collins produced the biggest album of former ABBA member Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s solo career. The drums should have been a dead giveaway. There is no mistaking the classic Collins sound in those primordial beats that anchor the song. In a track that is all about discovering your partner is cheating, the drums are as impactful as any of Frida’s words. Something is going on, and some shit is about to go down.

It’s interesting (to me at least) that several of Collins’ biggest hits of the early 80s were about the end of his first marriage. I don’t know if there was any carry over, but I can’t help but think some of the power in his drumming for Frida came from his own romantic pain.

Oh, and this song is an absolute banger. Loved it when I was 12, and I still love it today.

  1. Other famous songs that used gated reverb: Duran Duran’s “Wild Boys” and “A View to a Kill;” “Some Like It Hot” by the Power Station; “Born in the USA;” and a ton of Prince and Prince-influenced tracks.  ↩

Spring Break 2021

Another spring break has come and gone.

We spent the week on Anna Maria Island, Florida, just outside of Tampa. Although we planned our trip independently, it turns out AMI and the surrounding communities are one of the most popular destinations for families from Indy area Catholic schools. Our girls were very excited to learn how many of their friends would be staying nearby. Easy access to folks we know changed the entire week for us.

Our first two days the weather was subpar. Each day it was cloudy and breezy. Sunday it was rather cool – in the low 60s – so we only spent a couple hours shivering on the beach. Monday was a little warmer, but still very cloudy. As you might expect, the clouds gave us pale Midwesterners a false sense of security, and there were a lot of nasty sunburns early in the week.

The other downside to these first two days was that we could not crank up the heater on our pool, which was locked at 82. We are big wusses and keep the heater on our pool cranked between 90–95 until it truly gets hot in June. Eighty-two degree water plus clouds plus breeze meant we couldn’t really hang in our pool, either.

Fortunately on Tuesday the sun finally came out and we spent a ton of time on the beach the remainder of the week. Wednesday it was crazy windy, almost too windy to be on the beach as we were constantly scoured by blowing sand. Having already lost two days of sun, we stuck it out and accepted that every sip of beer would be a bit gritty.

C hung with three of her closest friends all week, one of whom had a birthday on Friday. That got kind of crazy, as the birthday girl talked her parents into taking the group to two different dinners and parasailing on Thursday. Another mom in that group also booked a henna artist so the girls could all get designs done. We barely saw C for most of the week other than to give her money as she set off with her pals.

M had some friends who were staying about 10 minutes south. She spent every day with them.

L had two different groups of friends that she bounced between, although she spent more time with the boy group. I guess she was more interested in going to the candy store once a day to buy sweets and baseball cards, digging huge holes on the beach, and trying to capture lizards than whatever the girls were up to.

That meant S and I pretty much had the days to ourselves. We hooked up with one group of St P’s parents and spent most of our beach days with them. I knew several of the families pretty well, a couple others very casually, and two more I could nod to and say hello but didn’t really know at all. It was fun to get to know some people I knew well even better, and to expand those rather casual friendships.

There were at least four other groups of St P’s parents scattered up and down the beach. I didn’t do a lot of mingling, mostly because they were all 10–15 years younger than me. A couple of the moms coaches for me, so I did make sure to check in with them.

Getting around the island is pretty easy. We rented both a car and a golf cart, generally using the car only to get M down to her friends and for grocery runs (and for the round-trip to the airport). The rest of the time we ran the golf cart all over the place. Highly recommended if that is ever an option on your travels. AMI is ideal for using a cart rather than car. Our house came with bikes that the girls used daily as well.

M was sad that you have to be 25 to drive a golf cart. Since we were on a side street we let all three girls have turns buzzing up and down it in the evenings when there was no traffic. They took to calling it our “whip,” which I thought was hilarious. L did pretty good, going a little too fast but generally keeping it under control. C was kind of a mess, which does not bode well for her beginning the drivers ed process this summer.

All week were were comparing/contrasting our surroundings with Captiva Island, where we have stayed three times. There are certainly a lot more people on AMI and many more things to do. The big negative is that evening meals are kind of a disaster. If you don’t get your name on a list before 5:30, you will be waiting at least two hours for a table. And because there is a strict 10:00 PM noise ordinance, a lot of restaurants stop serving around 9:00.

We got carry out our first three nights without issue. But the next couple nights we had to make last minute scrambles when every place we called to put an order in was so busy that they weren’t answering their phones. We ended up making dinner at home one night and just eating leftovers from other meals two other nights to avoid the hassle. It’s hard enough to wait two hours for a meal when you’re sunburned and tired. Throw in Covid and a lot of folks not being super observant of mask rules and the last thing you want to do is sit with hungry kids and have a few drinks hoping a table opens up for you.

So our only real meal out was lunch Friday at The Ugly Grouper, which everyone told us we hd to go to. We had a fantastic lunch without anyone sitting near us. Kind of ideal. The manager came over and talked to us as we ate. Turned out he was a Purdue grad and had managed restaurants in Indy. So the typical “How’s your meal, how ya doin?” conversation turned into a 10 minute exchange.

The other slight negative of the week was we could never get all our girls together in one place for a family picture. They probably took a collective 1000 pictures on their own but we couldn’t get them dressed and presentable and all in one place to get even one family shot. That’s a bummer, but I guess they have the pics to prove they were there.

Travel was pretty easy. We had a late afternoon flight down, so the Indy airport was no busier than normal. And we must have had just the right flight coming back because it took us five minutes to check backs and then about as long to get through security in Tampa. A couple friends who came back later Saturday evening came in during some heavy storms and said there was horrible turbulence on the way in, and then they had to sit on the taxiway for over an hour until the lightning had passed. Sounds delightful. Some other friends who were driving back got stuck in Georgia when the interstate was totally shut because of a large accident. They were parked in one spot and throwing a football around for two hours as they waited for the road to re-open.

Our flights were full, people seemed to be wearing masks. And, honestly, people mostly seemed to be following the mask rules on AMI. We did hear from others who braved the crowds more often than us that plenty of people were not being as cautious.

So, a very good spring break. If memory serves, this was the sixth time we’ve gone someplace warm for the week (Captiva twice; Orange Beach, AL; Mexico twice). Every trip has its minor annoyances, but once again we were lucky that it was a pleasant, relaxing, refreshing week.

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