Month: January 2012 (Page 1 of 2)

Who Is Wussy?

<p>In case you’ve been wondering who this <a href=””>Wussy</a> band is that has topped my listening stats each of the last two weeks, here’s a mini-review of their latest album, <em>Strawberry</em>.</p>

<p>I’ve been a fan of Wussy for several years. The Cincinnati band was long a staple of <a href=””>WOXY</a>’s playlists back when the station was A) still in Cincy and B) still broadcasting. But until a couple weeks ago I had only listened to individual Wussy tracks rather than an entire album.</p>

<p><em>Strawberry</em> is a rare album for this age. From the first song to the closing notes, it is consistently excellent. Every song fits perfectly. There isn’t a single filler song in the bunch. Even rarer is how I react each time I listen to the album: I want to start it over as soon as it’s done. That’s the way I listened to music for 20 years or so, but over the last decade has become increasingly rare.</p>

<p>What makes Wussy great? They’re firmly rooted in the indie rock sound of the early 1990s. There is a healthy does of early R.E.M. to them. And, just to round things out, there’s a very Fleetwood Mac-ish quality to them thanks to the male/female dual lead singer thing. They have terrific lyrics. Their music is excellent. </p>

<p>They’re just awesome.</p>

<p>Rather than break it down any further, I’ll share a song with you and then send you to places where you can buy the album. Which you should do, because great, indie bands like this need all the support they can get.</p>

<p><a href=”″>Wussy – “Wrist Rocket”</a></p>

I didn’t know what you had planned</br>
‘Till you removed the ampersand</br>
From in between your name and mine.</br>
Does he cross all your T’s, does he dot all your I’s</br>
Does he tell you more believable lies</br>
Than anything else that I could ever do?</br>

<p>Buy from: <a href=””>Shake It records</a>, <a href=”;pf_rd_s=center-2&amp;pf_rd_r=1PASHTNCX30E2CQ0KCRQ&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;pf_rd_p=470938631&amp;pf_rd_i=507846″>Amazon</a>, <a href=”″>iTunes</a></p>]

Promising Start

When the new Giants/Jets stadium was constructed, without a roof, and New York was awarded the 2014 Super Bowl, plenty of people talked about how great it would be if a Super Bowl was played in true winter conditions. Like a playoff game in Green Bay or Chicago, why shouldn’t the NFC championship be decided in the elements. While there were some naysayers (“Why should the title come down to a kicker slipping in icy conditions?”) it seemed like the majority decision was a Super Bowl played in the snow would be kind of awesome. After all, isn’t the gold standard for title games the 1967 NFL title game, aka The Ice Bowl.

While I’m on board with that, I also know if the weather is shitty in Indianapolis next Sunday, it won’t matter that the game is being played under a roof. People, tired of spending a week in a city where the entertainment options are limited, will complain. “Please, no more cold weather city Super Bowls,” will be the mantra of pampered columnists across the country.

So, all that said, we’re off to a promising start to Super Bowl week.

I should add that while it’s pretty far out, next weekend is forecast to be seasonably cold, with snow chances both days.

State Of The Blog

Greetings fellow citizens. I am here to talk about the State of the Blog. I can report that the State of the Blog is changed. Read on for the news.

It’s been a whole five months or something, thus it was time to implement some changes to Ye Olde Blog. I’ve bored you in the past (if you’ve chosen to read through such posts) explaining why I changed this or that. I shan’t do that again.

Basically I changed elements because I had the time and ability and, as usual, minor fiddling turned into a bigger project. The only changes you should notice are (hopefully) better overall performance of the site. The platform I used for the past year or so (Tumblr) had some issues and was occasionally slow to load, or didn’t load at all. That shouldn’t happen anymore.

I’ll admit the funny thing about my tinkering over the past year or so is the looks I’ve settled on each time have been quite similar. I guess I should get the message and quit messing around with it, huh?

The only area of controversy with the new design is that I’ve basically started from scratch with the posts. I wasn’t satisfied with how importing old posts worked. Thus, I decided to have no formal archive of posts before this month. If you dig around enough on the new setup, you will eventually find links to some of my old posts.

I felt bad about this at first, as eight-and-a-half years of archives is a lot to leave behind.1 But then I ran across this line, which made me feel better:

Old writing is like an old girlfriend: the memory is better than the reality


As always, thanks for reading.

  1. Worth noting not everything I’ve written in my blogging career has been archived. But a good chunk of the 2003-2011 work is sitting on two other sites. 

Why iPhones Are Made In China

This is a terrific article on several levels. It examines some of the inside story of the development of the iPhone. It points out fundamental demographic advantages that China has over the U.S. And it gets into the potential moral delimma Apple, and other successful US technology companies, has when balancing profitability, share owner value, and the needs of the American worker.

Though Americans are among the most educated workers in the world, the nation has stopped training enough people in the mid-level skills that factories need, executives say.
Another critical advantage for Apple was that China provided engineers at a scale the United States could not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.
In China, it took 15 days.

Fun With Nursery Rhymes

My nearly eight years as a stay-at-home parent have been filled with humorous moments that come with being the rare dad who is with his kids all day. Random kids who come up and start telling me about their potty habits. Boys who mistake me for their dad because I’m the only guy around. And, my personal favorite, kids yanking down their mothers’ shirts while I’m talking to them.

Friday, L. and I were at the library. We were sitting in a quiet corner of the toddler area, working through a stack of books she had picked out. Around us, other kids and parents played, read, and chatted.

One of the books L. picked out was a magazine for toddlers, kind of a mini-Highlights, full of short stories and poems. One of the poems was Edward Lear’s famous “The Owl and the Pussycat.” Thus, as a couple moms circled us, either chasing their kids or browsing through the board book racks by us, I read the following lines to L.:

The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!

I had two choices, either plow through those lines in my normal voice, and then give a Joey Tribbiani wink to any moms who looked at me. Or lower my voice and mumble through them. Obviously, I took the second route. And then I told L. it was time to go check out the movie section so we could flee quickly, just in case anyone had heard me.

Good times.

The Big One

Indianapolis is now on the clock in two ways. Sure, there’s the countdown to April’s NFL Draft. And now, with the conference championship games out of the way, the final countdown for the Super Bowl is on. In two weeks, a city where you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays1 will host America’s biggest single-day sporting event.

Anyway, a couple of great games on Sunday. Perhaps not artistic masterpieces, but tremendously entertaining. As an unaffiliated fan, you can’t ask for more than two games that go down to the final play. Two fan bases are broken hearted, and add new goats to their list of players to dislike. Two other fan bases are celebrating their good fortune and considering which team has the most luck left.

While America may be sick of another Boston-New York media love-fest, that matchup is probably a good thing for Indy. The national media has plenty of material to work with, between the rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl, the traditional rivalry between the cities, Belichick and Brady, and Eli Manning attempting to surpass his brother on his home turf. Compared to a San Francisco- Baltimore game there will be plenty of distractions from the weather (which I expect to be shitty) and the limitations of Indy to entertain people.

Don’t get me wrong: Indianapolis is a nice city to live in and raise a family. And it’s a decent place to entertain visitors for a weekend. But keeping the coastal celebrity contingents occupied for a week is another thing. I think I’ll just turn off the national media next week to avoid all the “Indy is boring” columns. And I’m not going anywhere near downtown.

Enough of that. Rather than talk about yesterday’s goats, I prefer to focus on Eli Manning. I’m not sure why he’s so maligned, although I guess some of it just comes with playing in New York, where no amount of success is ever enough. But that guy is a stud. He got hammered on play-after-play yesterday. Each time, when the camera returned to him, he was standing up, looking to the sideline to get the next play call while adjusting his helmet or tucking his shoulder pads back in. People talk about how guys like Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger hang in the pocket. You have to put Eli in that category. And you have to admit he’s one of the top five quarterbacks in the game right now.

Oh, and he makes the rooting interests for most Indianapolis residents easy. Colts fans hate the Patriots/Belichick/Brady. They may not love the Giants, but that is Peyton’s kid brother leading them. I would expect the Giants to be received warmly in Naptown.

Funny how times change. Each time they showed Alex Smith’s rather modest stats, I kept thinking how in the 1970s, Bob Griese was winning Super Bowls, Smith’s stats were perfectly reasonable. In fact, in winning back-to-back Super Bowls, Griese threw for less than 200 combined yards.

I also kept thinking about how technology changes our perspective. I was watching the game in glorious HD on our new TV. You could see individual rain drops, details in the crowd, and the bright hues of the uniforms. Contrast that to video of The Catch back in 1982. Montana-to-Clark was in HD, too, but only for those at Candlestick. Those of us at home were watching on small TVs with blurry pictures, and the remaining video from the game is grainy with muted colors.

Finally, for all the NFL does wrong (attempting to legislate fun out of the game, for example) one thing they get right is fourth quarters. All those touchdown-commercial-kickoff-commercial sequences in the first three quarters pay off with the continuous football they offer in the closing minutes.

  1. There was an effort to rush a change to the Sunday alcohol ban through the Legislature last week, but it failed. You can still buy all the beer you want in restaurants and at Lucas Oil Stadium, because it’s better to force people to drink-and-drive than allow them to get blitzed in the comfort of their own living rooms. 

More NCAA Bashing

The hypocrisy that permeates big-money college sports takes your breath away. College football and men’s basketball have become such huge commercial enterprises that together they generate more than $6 billion in annual revenue, more than the National Basketball Association…And what does the labor force that makes it possible for coaches to earn millions, and causes marketers to spend billions, get? Nothing. The workers are supposed to be content with a scholarship that does not even cover the full cost of attending college.

The New York Times has entered the discussion about the future of big time college sports. Joe Nocera wrote this lengthy piece two weeks ago, and has followed it up with a couple smaller op-eds since. Nocera presents a five point plan to change how football and men’s basketball are run:

  • Schools will bid on players
  • Each school will operate under a strict salary cap
  • Each player that stays in school for four years gets an additional two year scholarship to complete or extend their education
  • Each player receives lifetime health insurance
  • An organization would represent player interests for collective bargaining

There are flaws in the idea. While Nocera suggests a plan like this would eliminate recruiting violations, I could see it making things worse as coaches find ways to get around the salary cap.

But every plan to revamp college sports has shortcomings. I like that this addresses more beyond sharing revenues with the athletes. The fact it is in the Times, where it will be seen by university presidents and administrators, is important.

I think it’s worth the time to read and consider.

Football Notes

First off, the Saints-49ers game last Saturday was fantastic if you were just an unaffiliated person watching. I imagine it was fun for San Francisco fans, too. The terrific early performance by the ‘Niners’ D. The inevitable Saints comeback. And the frenetic final four minutes. Great, great stuff.

The Colts are making progress. First, the Polians were shown the door and Ryan Grigson was brought in to remake the franchise. Yesterday, Grigson fired coach Jim Caldwell. The next step seems pretty clear: cutting ties with Peyton Manning. Owner Jim Irsay has said several times that he will not trade Manning. He has not said, though, that he will not cut Manning. And, of course, Manning can always retire and save the Colts the hassle.

Regardless, Grigson and Irsay both seem committed to a complete rebuilding process. That’s a tough decision to make, when it means cutting ties with the player who is responsible for the Colts still playing in Indy in a brand new stadium that will host the Super Bowl in two weeks. But it’s bold and correct and they deserve a lot of credit for moving forward aggressively.

Speaking of Manning, Archie Manning sure seems to have a lot of comments lately. I understand there’s a lot going on with his family right now, between’s Peyton figuring out what’s next and Eli playing for the NFC title this weekend. But it seems like each week he’s on another show sharing his thoughts about Peyton, Andrew Luck, and the future of the Colts. I’d be interested to know if he just likes to talk, or if he is serving as Peyton’s unofficial mouthpiece. Given how carefully Peyton manages every aspect of his career, I can’t imagine he would want his father talking out of turn.

Finally, I’ve not said anything about Tebowmania. The more I look at it, the more it feels like the war in baseball between scouts and statheads. It’s not an exact analogy, but there are two sides that can’t find a middle ground on how to gauge Tebow’s play. Longtime talent observers see his bad throwing form and poor accuracy, put that in the context of what a winning NFL quarterback should look like in their eyes, and dismiss him outright. His supporters see a guy who, despite his flaws and differences from the prototype NFL QB, still has enough skill to carry a team to the playoffs. Both sides have dug in their heels and maintain that they are correct.

As is often the case, the truth is in the middle. Tebow does lack some of the tools that most successful NFL QBs have possessed in the past 30 years. But his unique mix of size, speed, and intelligence give him more ways to work around those limitations than the average quarterback. In a different way, he presents something that Michael Vick brought to the NFL: a new way of looking at the position. I don’t think Tebow will ever be an elite quarterback. But he can refine his throwing motion. He will learn more about reading defenses. The Broncos will build their offense around his specific skills. I was a doubter, but I see him as a legitimate, if unique, pro quarterback now.

An Old Friend

Perhaps no one has noticed, but I have yet to write anything lengthy about KU basketball this season. There are a couple reasons for that – which I’ll get into in another post at some point – but the bottom line is I have a different relationship with the team and with college basketball in general this year. In fact, Monday’s game against Baylor was the first game I watched from start-to-finish all season.

Obviously I picked a good night to get back on the Jayhawk crack.

I think I speak for most KU fans in saying that I entered this season with rather modest expectations. I still thought the team would be good. But with reduced numbers, Thomas Robinson playing extended minutes for the first time in his career, and the always enigmatic Tyshawn Taylor serving as the team’s leader, I certainly didn’t expect another 30 win season. And I still don’t although it looks like the win total will be closer to 30 than 20 when the season is over.

Judging from the emails, texts, and Tweets I read last night and this morning, the thrashing of Baylor injected a big dose of confidence into the KU fan base. Expectations are beginning to grow. Possibilities put aside for this season are being reassessed. We are seeing the blossoming of the next great player in the KU pantheon and the maturity of the most maligned player since Eric Chenowith.

When they play defense, this team is very, very good. Robinson’s game is growing every day; he’s noticeably better than he was in November. Taylor will never be the ideal point guard, but he’s playing with a confidence and comfort he’s never had before. You can ride that combo a long way when guys like Travis Reliford, Elijah Johnson, and Jeff Withey are doing just enough to keep defenses honest.

But it’s hard for me to see either Robinson avoiding foul trouble (or just a bad shooting night) or Taylor playing steady enough to get the team through four NCAA games and to New Orleans. It is fun, though, to watch them play and remind myself how lucky I am that rebuilding seasons at KU still mean being in contention for the conference title and a high seed in March.

R.I.P. Spike

We lost a dear friend yesterday. C.’s fish, Spike, passed on to the great fishbowl in the sky. It was not unexpected, as he hadn’t been right for months. That didn’t make the loss any easier for her.

He had always been an odd fish, but since the fall he spent most of his time curled up on the bottom of his bowl. While his brother Sparkle would swim around and eat his food as soon as we put it in his bowl, Spike just sat in the rocks. Each week when I cleaned his bowl, it looked like most of the pellets I had given him were still in the water.

In recent weeks, he took to taking occasional wild swims around his bowl, moving rocks around, smacking the glass, and zipping just under the water level. A few times I put a saucer over the top of the bowl because I feared he would leap out. Just as quickly as these jaunts would start, they ended, and he would sink to the bottom and flip over. He looked as dead as can be, but somehow kept going.

Until yesterday.

We disposed of him while C. was at school. She didn’t notice anything was amiss when she got home, so we waited to tell her. M. noticed his bowl was gone as soon as she got home, so I took C. aside and explained that Spike had been sick for a long time and had finally died. Her eyes got big, she asked what I had said, I repeated it, and then she burst into tears. I was not expecting that reaction at all, mostly because we had explained to her awhile back the Spike probably wouldn’t live much longer and she seemed to understand that. I figured she would be a little sad, but not beside herself.

She cried and hugged me. I told her she did a great job taking care of him and the fish I had when I was a kid didn’t live nearly as long as him. That didn’t help. Eventually she disappeared into her bed where she laid and cried for half an hour or so. Then, periodically for the rest of the day, she would get sad and start crying again.

I worked last night and when I got home she was on the couch with S., unable to sleep because of her sadness. Between her sobs she said she wanted to get another red fish and name him Spike, too. I asked her if she wanted to name him Spike II or Spike Jr. That got about a quarter smile out of her.

We’re lucky; we have happy kids. They get their feelings hurt sometimes, or overreact to small things because they’re tired or hungry. But this was our first real heartbreak, and it was heartbreaking to watch.

Fortunately, C. has a friend from school over right now and seems as happy as can be. They bounce back quickly.

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