Month: March 2013 (Page 1 of 2)

Sweetness

Here’s what I wrote about KU after their second game of the season back in November:

I think this team will be quite good before all is said and done. They’ll get through those rough patches and have a high seed in March. And then it will all come down to who they play…That doesn’t mean they can’t play deep into March or provide a bunch of special memories. But it does mean that despite the various prognosticators who are putting them in the Final Four, I see this as a year where getting to Atlanta is just out of reach.

And now here we are in the last week of March. KU is the first school to ever win 31 games in four straight seasons.1 They won Big 12 regular season and tournament championships. They are a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, preparing for the Sweet 16. Pretty great year, right?

They have a tremendous challenge to get through this weekend. It’s not totally out of reach, but I still think Atlanta will be just beyond the grasp of this year’s squad.

I didn’t see Friday night’s game against Western Kentucky, although I did follow it on the road from my phone. I think it’s a good thing I wasn’t able to watch. The first 20 minutes of Sunday’s North Carolina game had me yelling, spewing curses, and sending panicked texts to my fellow Jayhawks.

Fortunately they turned it around. Which they kind of had to do. Carolina is talented, but they’re not anywhere near as good a team as even this flawed KU team is. Not that less talented teams don’t beat better teams every single March. But this KU team was too good in too many ways to lose to a team like the Tarheels. As another KU fan said on Twitter, they couldn’t lose a game to Roy Williams that Roy would have lost when he was at KU.

That second 20 minutes was fantastic. They remembered who they were, who their coach was, and who was coaching the other team. They imposed their will on Carolina. They relaxed and hit shots. They took control of every aspect of the game. For a team that seemed utterly lost in the first half, they pretty much settled the game before the 10 minute mark.

I was worried all day, though. I heard that Ol’ Roy got a mostly friendly greeting from the KU crowd Thursday and Friday. I wondered if he would finally relax and his young guys would feed on that and come out and roll over KU. While they were up big early, they were never really rolling. And when KU got their act together in the second half, you could see the tension tearing Roy up. Like many I was amazed when he began clearing his bench with over a minute left. The margin wasn’t that big. Just ask Iowa State fans. But he threw in the towel, utterly defeated. You would think he would be over it by now, but he just can’t move on. It’s kind of amazing.

Anyway, here KU is, getting ready to play a Michigan team that was ranked #1 in the country not too long ago. I think it’s a tough matchup for the Jayhawks. But maybe it’s one that will get all their parts focused.

Everyone keeps saying that KU needs Ben McLemore to bust out to advance. I’m going to go in another direction. While it would be great if B-Mac scored 20+ efficient points Friday, I think Elijah Johnson is the key. Jeff Withey and Travis Releford are going to do what they do. But if good Elijah shows up, KU is very tough to beat. If bad Elijah is kicking the ball around and clanking shots, they have no chance. I’m hoping going against Trey Burke will have Elijah focused and fired up. But he’s even harder to measure than Tyshawn Taylor ever was, so I have no idea.

In November I said I would be satisfied if KU made it to the second week of the tournament. Two weeks ago I said I was completely satisfied with what they had accomplished and had zero expectations for what they would do in the tournament.

They’ve managed to make both November me and March me happy.

Michigan might run them out of the gym.2 I don’t care. The Jayhawks are still playing and the 2012-13 season has been a total success.

So, Rock Chalk, bitches.


I did not see much of the tournament’s first three days between vacationing and traveling. But there was some great stuff Sunday night. The Florida Gulf Coast show was absolutely amazing. How the hell does that happen? The funny thing is I listened to the first half of their game with Georgetown while driving Friday night and it took me awhile to figure out I was listening to the FGCU broadcast on a Ft. Myers station. Like most folks, I had no idea that’s where the school was. We were out of range by halftime so I missed all that fun. But their Dunk City show against San Diego State was excellent.

There were also terrific finishes in Kansas City (LaSalle – Ole Miss) and Austin (Miami – Illinois).

I did not fill out any brackets this year. In fact, I did my best to avoid any discussion of the tournament last week. I was in Florida to relax3 not worry about basketball. My pre-tournament Final Four would have been Louisville, Indiana, Ohio State, and Michigan. Honest! Ohio State has an awfully nice path. And Florida’s pre-Elite Eight run looks ridiculous. Of course, KU didn’t have to beat anyone two years ago thanks to upsets and got blasted by VCU in the Elite Eight. So easy paths aren’t always so easy.


  1. Memphis season never happened, according to the NCAA. 
  2. If you can call an 80,000 seat football stadium a gym. 
  3. And yell at my kids. 

Vacation Wrap Up

Happy spring! We are home, safe and sound, and the girls are back in school again. Wait. They’re not. We have seven inches of snow and, I believe for the first time since we started at St. P’s, school has been cancelled. It’s the endless spring break! Whoo hoo!1

What a weird thing, to go from the beach/pool on Friday to putting the snow clothes on and throwing snow balls on Monday. It’s March 25, for crying out loud!

Our final two days in Florida were good. We had an excellent dinner at a nice little Mexican place on Wednesday night. We hung out with our friends for ice cream later after dinner and snuck them into our resort for some pool time on Friday. The girls gathered more shells. They each claimed a tennis ball that had bounced into the bushes near the tennis courts.

Wednesday, on the resort trolley, I talked to an attorney from Kansas City who just happens to be a co-worker of a loyal reader of the site. Thursday another attorney from Kansas City, who was wearing a Mizzou shirt, offered us his family’s chairs at the pool. Friday I saw the same guy wearing a KU shirt. He clearly has issues.

Thursday I got waylaid by the cold that L. and M. had been fighting. If you saw me at the pool that day, you would have guessed dad was nursing a serious hangover. I just sat at the edge of the pool with my head hanging down, doing my best not to talk to anyone. Sadly it was just a lack of sleep and completely clogged sinuses and bad cough that knocked me out. I gave up after two hours and went home, alone, to lay down. Pathetic.

Obviously things cost a little more on Captiva, between it being on an island, there not being many stores to compete with each other, and the vacation tax you have to pay. But I really noticed the difference when I went to the one grocery store on the island to get some cold medicine. I spent $30 on Nyquil, some pretend Sudafed, and cough drops. The same combination would have run me $15 or so at your average Midwestern Walgreen’s. Oh well.

Our plans on when to return home were always kind of up in the air. I had been lobbying for us to go to bed early Friday, sleep until 2:00 or so Saturday morning, then get up and go to avoid traffic. S. advocated leaving at midnight, if not earlier. When we got back from the pool Friday and began organizing our things, I could see that look in S.’s eyes that said she was ready to move.

“It kind of seems like you want to leave sooner rather than later,” I said.

I’ve picked up a thing or two in 10 years of marriage.

She said she didn’t think anyone would be able to sleep, and it was going to be hard to keep the girls entertained for four hours before bedtime. I agreed and soon we were loading the van and preparing to get out of town before dinner.

So we left the resort at 6:00 Friday evening2 with me barely having slept the previous two nights. I knew it was going to be an interesting trip.

Long story short, we all survived. Thanks to the flood of caffeine and “non-drowsy” cold medicines, I could barely nap when S. was driving. I think we both got a couple short naps but for the most part were awake the entire time. The pre-dawn hours near Knoxville, when we drove through rain, and the last stretch in Kentucky were kind of a blur. But, again we made it.

The girls were absolutely fantastic. They slept for over 10 hours without complaints or problems. They were well-behaved in the morning when S. and I were thoroughly fried. It was some of their best behavior ever, to be honest.

The drive was not without its exciting moments.

In Tampa we drove through a huge, classic Florida thunderstorm. Much like our trip to Hilton Head two years ago, we found ourselves crawling along at less than 30 MPH through torrential rains. Some of it through narrow lanes because of construction. That was not fun at all.

We drove through more rain around the Georgia-Tennessee border that was nearly as heavy, and then steady rain through most of eastern Tennessee.

Finally, at 3:30 AM in downtown Atlanta, we were passed by an honest-to-goodness high speed chase. I was resting and heard S. say, “What an idiot.” I opened my eyes to see a car streak by us on our left with a policeman in hot pursuit. Then, to our right, another police car raced down an on-ramp with its siren and lights blazing. They quickly disappeared over a hill and by the time we crested the high point, they had either streaked farther out of view, or exited somewhere. There was more traffic than typical for that time of night, so thank goodness whoever was driving the lead car kept it in one lane.

We pulled into the driveway at 12:30 Saturday afternoon, 18.5 hours after leaving Captiva Island. Which is pretty damn good considering we had three kids with us, drove through two rain storms, and were down a DVD player after the girls somehow ruined the power cord on our way down last week.

It was a really great week. We loved Hilton Head two years ago, and may well go back there again some day. But we really liked Captiva and the resort we stayed at and think it will likely be a place we visit again. Although next time we’ll do it in a year we don’t have two other trips planned so we can fly into Ft. Myers rather than brave the roads for 19 hours.

Two trips to Florida in eight weeks. We are very lucky. And now I guess we start the countdown to trip #3 of 2013: my brother-in-law’s Boston wedding in September.

I guess I need to go start the snow blower now.


  1. I heard this morning that the Indianapolis Public School district has a two-week spring break. What?!?! 
  2. The resort even credited us back a night. Good people! 

Beach Update 2

Well, it’s raining again. But it’s only 9:00 and today it looks like the storms are going to blow through in the next couple hours.

But, man, yesterday was about perfect. Right around 80, overcast until noon when everything blew away, and we then had perfect Florida skies all afternoon. We did a shell walk in the morning. We watched the sun set from Sunset Beach in the evening.1 And in-between we spent most of the day in the pools. Where a funny thing happened.

I took C. and L. over to the pool with the water slides, where L. and I splashed around while C. slid. While she was in line, a girl said to C., “Are you M.’s sister?” Yep, it was a girl from M.’s grade and Brownie Troop at St. P’s. C. ran over to get M. and they played together for awhile. M. and her friend have never been in the same class, so I didn’t know who her parents were. But a few minutes later a woman came over to M. and said, “This might be a weird question, but are you in the second grade at St. P’s in Indianapolis?”

We introduced ourselves and talked for a few minutes. It is their first time in Florida for spring break, too, and while they didn’t plan to come down with other St. P’s families, they knew one or two others that were also down. And later in the day the girls saw a teacher from St. P’s sitting by the pool, too.

Almost 1200 miles from home and you can’t walk five feet without running into someone from Indiana or Kansas.


  1. How original! 

Beach Update 1

A lazy morning here on the island, so I’ll share a few details of our trip so far to keep me from having to write 5000 words about it when we get home. Of course, I may end up writing more than that this way, but that’s your gain!

Ok, the drives down were uneventful. Sure, everyone was cranky by the end of each day, but there were no major issues. Not having been through this before, I didn’t realize that all the Catholic schools in Indianapolis have spring break at the same time. So, until we hit the Florida border Saturday morning, we saw more Indiana license plates than any other state. When we ate breakfast at our hotel in Valdosta that morning, the dining nook of our hotel was dominated by families with Indy Catholic school gear. We even saw people from St. P’s, although we didn’t know them.

Same thing once we got to the resort we’re staying at. We saw St. P’s people and folks S. knows from growing up. And, coincidentally, we have good friend staying a five-minute walk from us. I had heard that everyone from our home school district comes to the same spot a little further down the coast on their spring break. It’s weird to see so many people who we can run into twice a day and drop off and pickup 19 hours from home.

I keep running into people who are KU fans or from Kansas City, too. In our first hours here, just as the Big 12 championship game was about to start, I saw a kid, maybe 10 or 11, wearing a full, alternate red, Jeff Withey uniform. We’ve run into KU fans while walking the streets, had a guy who grew up in a small Kansas town come say hello during dinner last night, and heard our waitress, who had an Eastern European accent, tell some other patrons, who were apparently from Kansas City, that she had lived there for several years.

Like I said, this is probably nothing unusual to those of you who have come to Flordia or Texas for spring breaks in the past. But it’s weird to me.

Yesterday had the ingredients for disaster but turned out to be a great day. We met our friends on the beach and, after about five minutes of sun, the clouds began blowing in. Soon the skies got dark, the wind picked up, and it began to spit rain. We decided to wait it out, because that’s what you do in Florida, right? While we were waiting, and as thunder got closer and closer, we saw some dolphins maybe 150 feet out from the shore. The girls screamed and jumped up and down and pointed. A few minutes later we saw some more. Eventually we saw a solitary dolphin maybe 30 feet out, slowly cruising down the shoreline. More screaming and pointing. We started walking with it, and it came a little closer. We walked farther and he came closer still. Soon it was 10-12 feet away and we could see its belly as it flipped on its side. I’d never seen a wild dolphin before, so I thought this was incredibly cool. You can imagine how amped up the girls were.

The dads headed back to our spot and while there, watched as a dolphin cruise boat went by and a pod of 7-8 dolphins took turns leaping through its wake. It’s like the dolphins are on the tourism board’s payroll. While we were watching the show, the girls and moms were still walking with the first dolphin, who eventually got within five feet of the beach. Between that and all the shells they were finding, the girls were beside themselves in happiness.

Soon the skies opened and we had to scurry over to our friends’ place. They have a large home for their entire family, which includes a screened-in pool. These are pretty common down here, but us hayseeds from Indiana had never seen them before. Once the lightning passed we threw the girls in and swam in a heated pool as the rain poured in from above. It was a strange, but delightful, experience.

Those are the highlights so far. It is still cloudy this morning, but is supposed to stay dry. We’re going to sneak our friends into our resort’s pool later. The girls want to go shelling again, but low tide hits in the middle of the night so we can’t hit the ideal times for the best shells. But I’m sure they’ll add to their already impressive collections.

On The Road Again

We are off. To Florida. Again.

I know.

We are spoiled rotten, and our daughters are going to grow up to be contemptuous brats that complain because they’ve been pamered their entire lives.

I mean, who goes to Florida twice in two months?

It was an unexpected combination of factors that has us well on the way to Captiva Island by the time you are reading this. We felt a little silly going south for spring break when we were just at Disney. But the combination of factors seemed like a sign that we should take advantage of this opportunity. You never know when the things you always thought you could do later are no longer options.

So wish us luck. We’ll be in the van 12-13 hours today and spend the night in Valdosta, Georgia before continuing on to Captiva on Saturday. We will then spend a week in the pool, walking the beach, and enjoying the sun (we hope). And next Friday night/Saturday we’re busting out that 18-19 hour return trip in one epic drive. If you go to church, please pray that we don’t kill each other or lose our minds that day.

Il Papa

Those Catholics know how to do timing. I was sitting in the parking lot at St. P’s Wednesday, waiting for dismissal, when suddenly the skies opened up and what had been light flurries turned into thick, white flakes that cut visibility and quickly covered windshields. It only lasted a minute or so, but as those big flakes fell, I couldn’t help but think that they looked like white smoke blowing across the parking lot. A little like the white smoke that was blowing in Vatican City at roughly the same time.

Get it?!?!

As this was happening, I was checking Twitter and saw that the new pope was about to be announced. When the kids were let out, C. came out oblivious to the news. But M. came out moments later and ran to me, yelling, “There’s a new pope! But we don’t know who he is yet! It’s 8:00 in Rome!”

She was full of facts.

When we got to the van I asked if they had talked about how the new pope was picked. She said no, so I did my best to share what I knew of the process. We talked it through a few times until she finally let out a gasp and shared the following realization in an all CAPS voice without any space between words. I’ll tone it down for your comprehension.

“OH! So it’s like a secret vote, but it’s just the cardinals, right, and it’s like they are voting for the president, only it’s the pope! I get it!”

Gist acquired.

When we got home, I was surprised that all three girls sat quietly in front of MSNBC as we watched part of the Pope’s address. Considering that none of it was in English, they remained interested for quite a while. Although it could have just been the time difference. For some reason they were amazed by that.

Anyway, my contribution to my daughters’ spiritual lives is checked off for another quarter!

The More Things Change

One of the greatest things about YouTube are the people who take old sporting events, chop them up into 10-15 minute versions, and post them for the world’s viewing pleasure. There’s a guy who does a bunch of KU games, and last week I spent an hour or so watching a few condensed, classic games. The one I paid most attention to was a game from December 1993, when Indiana came to Lawrence for a much-anticipated game that ended up being one of the best games I’ve ever seen in person.

It was fun to watch just to see how much college ball has changed in 20 years, of course. Players were a lot different both in skill set and physical stature. The game was different, with the focus on motion and probably better core basketball skills than today. That said, KU’s offense suddenly changed that year with the arrival of Jacque Vaughn, who would spend a lot of time standing around dribbling, waiting for the pieces to get into the right places before he gave it up.

It was also fun to watch that game, think of the two teams now, and where they’ve been during the 20 years since that night.

In 1993 KU had been to two Final Fours in three years. IU had been to the Final Four in the year between KU’s two appearances. KU had beaten IU in the Midwest Regional Finals the previous spring in St. Louis to advance to New Orleans. Both teams had won National Championships within the previous seven years.

That night in December ’93 both teams were a combination of veteran role players, a single senior who was the alpha dog, and then a collection of young guys with lots of promise. You would expect each team to be in the running for more Final Fours for years to come.

It didn’t happen.

KU was the winningest program of the 1990s, but only reached the Elite Eight one more time in the decade, losing to Syracuse in 1996. They were always ranked highly, generally contended for the conference title and a high seed in the NCAA tournament, and had some of the greatest players in the program’s history. But the next Final Four wouldn’t come until 2002.

Indiana, though, kind of fell apart. Bobby Knight couldn’t find the next Calbert Cheaney as the recruiting side of his job seemed to pass him by. They would reach the Sweet 16 later that season, but not again in Knight’s tenure.

IU wouldn’t make it to the Sweet 16, or beyond, until 2002, when the Mike Davis coached Hoosiers lost to Maryland in the National Championship game in Atlanta.

But that was just a blip for IU.

While KU returned to the Final Four in 2003, losing to Syracuse in the title game, IU really fell off the map. Mike Davis became a total train wreck. He was replaced by Kelvin Sampson, who got the program put on probation for the first time in its history. The Hoosiers reached the tournament four times in nine years, only making it to the Sweet 16 last year, when they lost to eventual champs Kentucky.

But IU’s long nightmare appears to be over. Tom Crean has built a team around a fantastic group of local players, complimenting them with some fine out-of-state talent.

Despite a couple lulls during their Big 10 schedule, IU enters the final week before Selection Sunday as a near lock for a #1 seed. With that comes a likely trip across the state line for first weekend games in Dayton, followed by regional games at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.

There is no such thing as a sure thing in the NCAA tournament. Ask KU fans about 1997. Or 1998. But Indiana seems an easy pick to win their first four NCAA games and return to Atlanta where they will chase their sixth National Championship.

While watching that 1993 game, I thought about someone who followed either school closely back then having disappeared for 20 years. They could have been in a coma, gone to some remote Antarctic station, or been stuck in a mine for all that time. If they took a look at the AP poll this week, and saw IU at #3 and KU at #7, they might think nothing had changed in the time they had been away. When in fact it’s been a long, rocky ride for the Hoosiers.

I’ll admit, I don’t have a lot of love for IU. Which is weird. I have a degree from there, after all. My wife and several of her siblings went there. The Hoosiers have some kids I got to watch play in high school. But I if I had to adopt an Indiana team as a second-favorite, it would be Butler.

I think that’s because, despite Butler’s success, I don’t see them as a threat to KU. Sure, they could take KU out if they played. But KU and Butler aren’t going to be recruiting the same kids. They aren’t battling for spots on the All-Time Best Program list. They won’t be comparing records and strength of schedules each March as they fight for a top seed in the most geographically convenient region.

Oh, and I think Tom Crean is kind of an ass.

Anyway, I won’t be rooting for IU in the tournament if they are still playing if/after KU goes out. Especially if I’m at Lucas Oil in two weeks watching KU play in one Midwest Semifinal while #1 seed IU plays in the other. Or, God forbid, they meet in a regional final a couple days later.

That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate IU’s story. Success is never a given in college basketball no matter how glorious a program’s past. IU’s difficult 20 years are a good reminder that it can all go away quickly.

I just hope KU makes them wait a little bit longer for their next Final Four.

Niiiiiiiiine Times

It seems there is angst amongst a segment of KU fans today. Some, it seems, are over-looking another Big 12 title because A) the Jayhawks went to Waco and got worked over Saturday and B) they now have to share the Big 12 title with Kansas State.

Stop.

It’s not the first time KU has been blown out in their final game of the regular season during this nine-year run. And it’s not the first time they’ve had to share the title.

Quit bitching, spoiled KU fan.

Appreciate what this team has done. A month ago, did a league title seem possible? With three losses in the books and games against K-State and Texas at home along with trips to Stillwater, Ames, and Waco, most would have been thrilled with going 4-4 over the final eight. Instead they went 7-1. The final game shouldn’t over-shadow the rest of that run.

And quit putting down K-State’s accomplishment. They made it through a tough league with just four losses. Sure, two were to KU. But don’t pull that “We beat you twice so we’re the real champs,” garbage. If that’s the case, we can’t claim two of our tied-titles during the run, meaning it never happened. K-State had a great year. If it was KU winning their first portion of a conference championship in 40 years, we’d be printing up t-shirts, too. Hell, I remember KU fans going nuts in 1986 when it had only been eight years since the last Big 8 title.

So stop all that.

Enjoy what this team did. When they were good, they were damn good. Sure, they stunk it up a few times and that TCU loss will live in infamy as the one that cost KU the outright title. But they’re still conference champions again and in fine position for a top three seed in the NCAA tournament.

With all that in mind, I’m going on record as being absolutely, completely, undoubtedly satisfied with this season. No matter what happens over the next few weeks, I’m not sweating it. While KU was the pre-season Big 12 favorite, there was concern about who would score, who on the bench would provide depth, who could play point guard, how many of the freshmen would contribute, etc. It was far from a sure thing before the season began.

Along the way we saw the most remarkable freshman season in the school’s history.1 One of the greatest single-game performances ever. One of the greatest defensive players in school history. And a local kid who grew from a role player to a key component of a very good team.

I just can’t find a reason to be disappointed that we <em>only</em> tied, and, gasp, with K-State. All that matters is the Big 12 title banner in Allen Fieldhouse will add 2013 to the 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005 directly before it.

I don’t care what happens in the NCAAs. I’m not saying I won’t be disappointed if we don’t survive the first weekend. Or if we make it to Dallas or Indianapolis or wherever and then lose to a lower seed. Or if we’re lucky enough to make it to the Elite Eight and then get blasted by IU or Duke.

I’m saying I’m not sweating it and the angst when the loss comes will be much less that it was two years ago after VCU, or the year before against Northern Iowa, etc.

I’m even removing my utter fear of playing IU here in Indianapolis. You know what, bring ‘em on. If we make it to the Elite Eight for the third-straight year, I’ll be utterly thrilled. Even if we have to take on Zeller, Oladipo, and 40,000 screaming Hoosiers fans.

It’s all gravy at this point.

So stop whining, KU fans.

And suck it, rest of the Big 12.

Rock Chalk, bitches.


  1. Allowing for Wilt Chamberlain never having a freshman season. It’s safe to say he had the best first season in school history. 

Snow Day

<p>Another rumored <em>major snow event</em> in central Indiana was a bust. Such as been the norm in the winter of 2012-13. </p>

<p>We got 4-5″ overnight, less than the 6-9″ that had been predicted, turning Wednesday into a two-hour delay for the girls rather than a real snow day. They were disappointed when we told them they just had to hang out and play inside for a few hours and then head to school. It’s good packing snow, though, so snowmen and snowballs are in their future this afternoon.</p>

<p>Which got me thinking about my favorite snow day ever. I know, I know. Old school friends are shaking their heads, saying, “OF COURSE he has a favorite snow day.” In my defense, I can only remember what I did on two, maybe three, snow days ever back in the day. So it’s not like I have a list of my 20 favorites stored on my hard drive somewhere.</p>

<p>So cut me a little slack.</p>

<p>That said, let me take you back to February 1980. As I remember it, it was during the Winter Olympics. But it could have been anytime that winter and my mind has just stuck this in the midst of the games. </p>

<p>This was before we moved to Kansas City, and we were still living in southeast Missouri. We went to school as normal that day, but a big snowstorm rolled in and they sent everyone home early. </p>

<p>I was part of the original generation of Latch Key kids, so I got off the bus, played around in the snow a little, and went into our quiet apartment to watch the Olympics until my parents got home.</p>

<p>Soon there was a knock on the door and my parents’ friend Jerry, who lived with his wife two buildings down, was there. He was an unemployed construction worker with no kids and kind of took me under his wing. While he was around 30, he was still just a big kid and loved to take me to do stupid kid stuff.</p>

<p>He told me to come on and we hopped into his rusty, blue Ford pickup. We went to Wal-Mart, he made some purchases and gave me a quarter to use in the vending machines outside. Let’s say I bought a new Super Ball, although I have no idea what I spent that quarter on.</p>

<p>On the way home, in the midst of a deserted county road, he yanked the steering wheel hard to the left and hit the brakes putting the truck into a spin. As we began to rotate, he floored the gas and we continued to spin faster. I remember kind of levitating in the seat, since there was no way I had a seat belt on in 1980. </p>

<p>We circled for a moment or two before he let off the gas and I sunk back into the seat. I’m sure I gave him a wide-eyed look, as I remember him laughing and saying, “You’ve never done donuts before, have you?”</p>

<p>I shook my head and started laughing, relieved that he intended for us to spin out like that and we hadn’t been on the verge of going into the ditch or something.</p>

<p>”Wanna do it again?”</p>

<p>I nodded and off we went. All I remember from the rest of that day is sliding around the front seat, laughing myself silly as we turned circle after circle on deserted, snow-packed roads on a cold day in 1980.</p>

<p>So here we are, over 33 years later, and that’s still one of the first things I think of when the girls have a snow day. One of these years, I’ll have to find a deserted parking lot and go spin them around a few times.</p>

<p>ↁ</p>

What I’m Watching

I’ve meant to get to my rankings of this year’s TV shows for awhile. But a DVR snafu forced me to wait to see the second episode of “The Americans” until this past weekend. With that finally knocked out, though, I can get to it. Keep in mind, I watch approximately five shows, so making the top five isn’t necessarily a sign of quality. It’s a sign that I pay attention to that program.

  • “Parks &amp; Recreation” It’s one thing to have a good season or two. It’s another to crank out the best, most consistent comedy on TV for five straight years. “P&R” almost never has a down episode. It does a better job than any other show straddling the line between silly and smart. Every character is well-developed and we get to spend time with each of them throughout the season. There is a whole sub-world of side characters, inside jokes, and self-references. Ron Swanson is one of the “-time great characters. Put it ” together and “P&R” is one of the best comedies of ” time. Sadly, wherever it f”s on that list, it will likely be the least watched of the greats.
  • “Modern Family” The show, briefly, lost its fastball” in seasons two and three. But its been great again for the past two years. What keeps it behind “P&R” is that it will occasionally have a subpar episode. And those tidy, feel good endings feel less natural and subtle than “P&R”s. But we aren’t talking about a huge gap between the two.
  • “Archer” A little disappointing this year, although last week’s episode was a fine return to form. But it is still a half hour of complete, vulgar ridiculousness. And it is clearly building toward something big with Barry and Katya.1
  • “The Americans” Cold War era spy thriller? If I have an alley, this is right up it. I don’t have a lot of room for current dramas in my life, but I’ve made room for this one. The pilot was phenomenal, especially the final garage scene. The next two episodes were terrific as well. I still have several episodes on the DVR, but I’ve heard nothing to make me think it doesn’t continue to be good. The fear with a show like this is how they can sustain the tensions they built early one between the Jennings and their FBI neighbor, Stan Beeman. How long can they drag on their parallel lives without Beeman first figuring out he lives next to the people he’s charged with finding and then there being a big, nasty resolution? I hope the show lasts long enough that this becomes a real concern.
    I love the early 80s culture and political references. I love the twist of the characters we most care about being Soviet spies living as Americans and the Feds being the bad guys. And, as so many have pointed out, I love that it is really a story about marriage and relationships disguised as a spy story. Great stuff all around, so far.
  • “Community” So disappointing, so far. It’s hard not to watch with great trepidation, knowing show creator Dan Harmon was run off in the summer and then the show was iced for five months until “30 Rock” finished its run. It’s just not the same show anymore, which is an utter shame considering how terrific it was.

And not a current show, but I finally started “Breaking Bad” after Christmas. I got nearly through season one quickly, but haven’t watched for awhile. I re”y liked what I’ve seen so far. And we’ve been stuck at the beginning of season four of “Mad Men” since June. Someday well start it again.


  1. Side note: I love how voices from “Archer” are popping up on PBS Kids’ “Word Girl” ” the time. Chris Parnell is a regular on both. I’ve heard H. Jon Benjamin and Judy Greer as well. I would imagine they aren’t the only ones. Anyway, I’ll hear their voices on “Word Girl” and start laughing, which always makes the girls start bothering me about why I’m laughing. Which I can’t share, since “Archer” is a filthy, filthy show. 
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