Month: August 2014 (Page 1 of 3)

Friday Vid

“Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” – Sophie B. Hawkins
A guilty pleasure of mine, this was released in 1991 but charted in the summer of 1992, one of the greatest music summers ever1. It’s long been in my iTunes library, but I can’t recall ever watching the video until recently. It’s really something else, isn’t it?

Enjoy the last weekend of the summer.

  1. I was listening to Pearl Jam, TLC, Ice-T, Mary J. Blige, The Cure, Arrested Development, Public Enemy, Toad the Wet Sprocket, U2, and Keith Sweat. 

Back In The Day

I recently began following Chris Jaffe on Twitter. His claim to fame is that each day he tweets out a bunch of reasons why that date is significant. For example, here’s what his feed looked like this morning.


Anyway, a couple weeks back I noticed he mentioned that the Rolling Stones album Steel Wheels had been released exactly 25 years earlier. I’m not a huge fan of the Stones, but I immediately thought about what the singles were from that album. The first was “Mixed Emotions,” probably their last good song. And, as my brain tends to do, I tried to think of where that song fell in my life. That was easy: it was climbing the charts and in heavy rotation during my first weeks of college.

A little more checking and I figured that I went off to college on August 20, 1989. So I just passed the 25th anniversary of my first week of college.


Or, rather, it was the anniversary of my first week at college. I don’t know if dorms still open a week before classes, but back then we had Hawk Week, colloquially known as Country Club Week, where you moved into your residence, paid your tuition, picked up your books, dropped some more money at the bookstore on important things like t-shirts and sweatshirts, and otherwise spent a week doing a lot of nothing waiting for classes to begin. Well, nothing during the day. The lack of classes was an excuse to drink yourself silly each night.

That first night of college life was a big deal for me. Two good friends from high school were going to KU with me, but neither showed up until later in the week. I had a roommate from Nebraska who, after introducing himself, took off to hang out with some guys he knew from Omaha. Eventually I hooked up with some sophomores across the hall, who offered me a couple beers while we sat around and watched A Fish Called Wanda on someone’s tiny TV. While I didn’t become fast friends with that crew immediately, a significant chunk of them were people I stayed close with through college. A couple of them are still good friends to this day. So that was a pretty solid night.

My other memories of that week are just walking around campus, learning how the bus routes worked, and wondering when the hot girls looking for love would magically appear in my room.1 I had my first crush almost immediately, a nice girl who I became casual friends with but never liked me as much as I wanted her to.2 Amazingly, there’s a shirt up in my dresser that I bought that week that I still wear regularly, although the sleeves were long ago cut off and it’s just worn for mowing the lawn or working out at home.

It’s crazy for me to think about M. being 10 and me having been a primary caregiver for a decade. But then to think that it’s been 25 years since I started college is crazier still.

  1. The answer was never. 
  2. A recurring theme for the next several years. 

Reporter’s Notebook

At last it was back out into the field Friday night as high school football season began here in Indiana.

I caught a pretty nice assignment, following a top 10 5A team up north to Lafayette. The stadium was the nicest high school stadium I’ve ever been in. I had to take a damn elevator up to the press box! And it was completely enclosed. I don’t normally like that, because you can’t hear the crowd or the whistles of the refs. But since the heat index was up over 90 and the air was thick and nasty, I was willing to sacrifice the sounds of the game for a little air conditioned comfort.

The game itself was a good one to cover. There were plenty of big plays. There was a nice storyline with a sophomore QB making his first varsity start. There was a kid who is getting serious D1 attention who was in the middle of three pretty spectacular plays. And then, unfortunately, there was a serious looking injury late that caused the game to be halted for nearly 20 minutes and then the last 3:35 cancelled because of the injury and score. Which added a degree of difficulty to the night as I had to crank out the story faster than expected after the delay pushed things back.

But the real fun of the night came from sitting next to the host school’s student broadcasting team. Really it’s a damn shame I had to keep stats and pay attention to what was going on down on the field, because I would have preferred to just sit and scribble down all the amusing things these kids said.

It was a sophomore duo and they did not do much preparation for the game, from what I can tell. Their pre-game show consisted of reading through the starters list and commenting on each player.

“He’s a good kid. I’ve known him since fifth grade.”
“He’s a nice kid.”
“He’ll start at left end. I don’t know him, but I heard he’s a good kid.”
“He’s a big, strong kid. I saw his squat over 500 lbs. this summer. And he’s a good kid, too.”
“He’s back for his third year starting. He’s a pretty good kid.”

And on and on. In fact, I heard no phrase more than “He’s a good kid,” all night. Which made me smile and chuckle to myself each time I heard it.

Also, before the game, they decided to find out where the school I was covering is located. So one looked it up on his phone and then shared with the audience exactly how far away it is. Which is fine, although it seems like you would have wanted to do that before you went on air and then seamlessly work it into your commentary.

One of the pair was slightly older than the other, apparently closer to 16 than 15, while the younger kid had just turned 15. I heard the older kid mention the younger’s recent birthday and then make a crack about how, soon, he’d be driving his partner to games. Ahhh, near-16-year-old concerns and humor!

The same kid mentioned to his audience that it was a beautiful early evening as he looked out over the west side of the stadium. Only problem was we were looking east. Not sure if he meant from the west side or just doesn’t know his directions.

Once the game began I tuned out a lot of their play-by-play. I kind of had to do that because there was another radio crew to my left that were older and more professional and also louder. With competing voices coming from both directions, I did my best to ignore them and focus on the field.

Later, though, the student broadcasters brought up a girl from the soccer team and another from the cross country team to discuss their teams’ outlooks for the season. When the soccer player sat down one announcer said, “She number two on the field, but number one in my heart.”

I had to try hard to keep my laughter in after that one.

I only caught bits of the interview, but I think he was doing more flirting and trying to make her laugh than actually discuss soccer. Which I can respect. I would likely have done the same 26 years ago if my high school had a radio station and I had a chance to broadcast our sports events.

The final thing I wrote down was a doozy. My team was the Warriors. In the second half a home runner got stood up by pretty much the whole defensive line. One of the announcers was ready for this. He said, “Ricksy is stood up (pauses, raises voice) BY A TRIBE OF WARRIORS (long pause). I was kind of proud of that one.”


Like the flirting with the soccer player, I could both shake my head and tip my cap to the guy. If I was on the mic back in the fall of 1988, I would have had a sheet of stupid nicknames and catch phrases and “clever” turns of phrase that revolved around last names and team mascots, and not been afraid to use them liberally. I was a 17-year-old dumb ass who thought he was smart and amusing and still thought Chris Berman was funny. Oh, and I was deep into first generation hip hop. If my over-the-top attempts at humor didn’t cause the faculty member advising us to yank me off the air, I’m pretty sure dropping RUN-DMC, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, and Eric B & Rakim references would have done the trick. I doubt Raytown, MO was ready for that.

So a solid week one. Other than the injury, of course. My team won by 29. I got to see some decent football. Watched probably the second most talented kid I’ve had to cover. And got some cheap entertainment in the process.

I’m off this week as we’re out of town for the holiday, but should be back on the road in two weeks.

Scorebook Update

The girls did fine without me Friday, coming back to beat a tough team 22-11. The coaches prepped them for the game by telling them it would be “like playing fifth graders.” Such is the reputation of the St. S’s kickball program.

I was back on the scorebook tonight. Another win. Again the mercy rule came into effect. 41-15 this time, and they gave up seven of those runs in the first. Our girls kicked two grand slams and had two other solo home runs. No 20-run innings but one 16-tally frame.

Even if it’s good for your team, your heart has to break a little every time you see an outfielder, who hasn’t touched the ball all night and is staring off into the distance, misplay a ball and it goes rolling past her all the way to the school building. Then again, I’m also thinking to myself, “My daughter would have stopped that!”

I believe the lesson is we have a good team, and coaches who have done a good job teaching them how to play defense and run the bases. But when I show up and hold the scorebook, clearly it takes them to another level.


⦿ Friday Links

Before large capacity hard drives became relatively cheap and easy to obtain, lots of government agencies, corporations, and regular folks put important archival data onto CDs, thinking they would be safe forever because they were digital.


Turns out CDs don’t hold their data in perpetuity. Worse, there’s no real way to predict how long it will take an individual CD to break down. CDs of the same age, and kept in the same conditions, can deteriorate at different rates depending on where and how they were manufactured.

Might be a good time to put all those old baby pics and videos on a hard drive and stash it in a safe somewhere. And back it up someplace else for good measure.

How Long Do CDs Last? It Depends, But Definitely Not Forever

OK, this is just crazy. Apparently before there were public water systems, people in Europe often put eels into their community water wells to keep them clean. The eels ate all the nasty stuff that accumulated in the wells1. You can watch the video in the linked story to get an idea how it worked.

Anyway…one eel spent 155 years in a Swedish village’s water well until it recently died. One hundred and fifty-five years.

OK, first it’s just weird that people put eels into their water systems. And then it’s kind of batshit crazy that one eel had been swimming around since 1859. Apparently the same village has a 110-year-old eel as well.

Honestly, I was disappointed the guy was so small when he appears in the video. I was expecting some big, nasty thing that would give me nightmares for weeks.

Remind me to never drink the water if I visit Sweden and go outside Stockholm.

World’s oldest eel dies at 155 in Swedish well

The winter of 2013-14 keeps getting worse. There could be a Nutella shortage, or at least a big price spike, in the near future because of a late freeze in Turkey last spring that wiped out a significant portion of its hazelnut crop. I’m not sure our girls can survive without Nutella if we have to stop buying it for awhile.

Nutella shortage possible after hazelnut crop wiped out

More song of the summer stuff. Clearly I’m not the only one that’s kind of obsessed with the concept.

Perhaps that’s why certain summer songs make themselves known as such only years later, presenting themselves as personal songs of the season when we are looking through photographs and postcards, and not lists or charts. These songs that become a personal or collective soundtrack allow for summer’s wide-open potential to unfold into the air all around us; only after time has passed do they fall into patterns on a crinkled-up map of where we once were.

The Real Song of the Summer

Finally, for years there have been complaints about how long the last couple minutes of basketball games get stretched out. It’s not uncommon for two minutes of game time to take 20-30 minutes of real time because of fouls, timeouts, free throws, substitutions, and other clock stoppages. Where once you could be confident that allotting no more than 150 minutes of your VCR/DVR to a game would capture it all, today you pretty much have to set it to record for three hours to make sure you don’t miss the final ticks.

There are always half-assed suggestions on how to fix the problem. But nothing has been changed and none of these off-the-cuff ideas would do much to solve the issue.

Here, though, is a revolutionary idea on how to change the game: get rid of the clock at the end of the game. Basically, and this is a long-winded article that takes forever to get to the point, at the 4:00 mark of the second half, the clock would be turned off and the teams would play until one or the other reached the current leader’s score, plus seven points.

It’s kind of mind blowing.

A New Beginning For Basketball’s End

  1. Think about that. People were worried about drinking algae and other plant matter, bugs, small animals. But were cool drinking the piss and shit the eels produced after consuming all these goodies. 

Friday Vid(s)

“Under The Pressure” – The War On Drugs
We’re approaching the final third of the year, and no album has yet challenged TWOD’s Lost In The Dream as my favorite of the year. This artsy, psychedelic video matches the mood of the nine minute album-opener nicely.

As a bonus, here is TWOD performing another track from the album, “Burning,” live in Spain. Starting at about the 2:20 mark, when the band really begins to kick in, it is pretty spectacular.

SNL At 40

Somewhat odd timing, but Grantland kicked off SNL At 40 week today.1 There are already a couple solid articles posted, and day one of the bracket to pick the greatest cast member ever is up. I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy the rest of the series.

This, along with the passing of Don Pardo earlier this week, had me thinking of SNL this morning. I believe I’ve watched one full, current episode in the last 8-9 years. Once Will Ferrell and his cohorts filtered out, I was less interested in dealing with the new folks. I preferred watching compilation shows that cut out the highlights of recent years so I could see Stefon or “What Up With That?” without staying up until 1:00.

Despite that, the SNL sensibility is still central to my comedy tastes. Those early years when I watched the show were just too powerful an influence on me.

Which is kind of funny, given when I began watching the show. I remember watching prime time specials in the late 1970s, but didn’t stay up to watch the entire show on my own until the Eddie Murphy years. An era which, to many, was just Eddie and a bunch of bit players. Other than Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who didn’t become a star until nearly a decade after her time on SNL, no one else broke out and became a mainstream star.

But, man, did I love everyone on the show.

Joe Piscopo was Eddie’s sidekick, and proof that America was coming together across racial lines. Tim Kazurinsky and Mary Gross were odd, not terribly sexy, but terrifically funny. Brad Hall was goofy, and I figured probably was probably who I would most resemble if I ended up on SNL some day. Even Gary Kroeger, Robin Duke, and Rich Hall seemed like superstars to me, even if to most historians of the show, they are buried with the rest of the Never Stars of the past 40 years.

I won’t argue that the early 80s were the best era for SNL. Or even underrated. Still, that was when I discovered the show, and when my friends and I giggled on the bus or in the back of class on Mondays reviewing our favorite parts of the previous Saturday’s show.

Saturday Night Live at 40

  1. Why on a Thursday? 

I Don’t Like Where This Is Headed

I’ll preface this by reminding you I tend to get a little superstitious about sports. Despite being aware of the Colts’ epic comeback against the Chiefs in January, I refused to turn the game back on. My turning it off had something to do with the change, right?

I watch KU games from the same seat until they lose, then switch to the opposite side of the couch. In March, I’ll often switch seats at halftime if things aren’t going well.1

And so on.

M’s kickball team began their season Tuesday night. Before the game, her coach walked over and asked if I would mind keeping score. This is kind of a big deal in kickball, as it’s just a hair off being full chaos for 70 minutes. Despite each kid being instructed to run over and report to the scorekeepers after they either score a run or commit an out, there still seems to be a moment in each game where the two scorekeepers and umpire are huddled up to make sure of the score or number of outs.

But, as I’ve written about in the past, I enjoy keeping score for baseball. So I told the other two sisters to stay out of trouble and accepted the responsibility.

Despite St. P’s being on the road, the home team kicked first. They scored one run in the top of the first.

About 15 minutes later, St. P’s finished the bottom of the first with 20 runs, which in fourth grade kickball, signals the end of the inning. There was only one out.

Top of the second one run.

Bottom of the second, 16 more runs for St. P’s.

Top of the third, scoreless.

Bottom of the third, another 20-run inning.

A quick 1-2-3 top of the fourth mercifully brought in the run rule to put the game out of its misery.

That’s right, our girls won 56-2. Clearly this is a time when the label “mercy rule” was appropriate.2 This game was painful to watch.

It’s not that our girls were all that great, either. They did play well, especially on defense. But the other team really struggled to make basic plays. Our girls kept kicking it to the middle of the infield then running as their opponents struggled to make the right play.3

When I handed the scorebook over to the coach after the game, I asked her if this meant I had to keep score for the rest of the season. She laughed, as I intended. But I admit, deep down, I felt a twinge that, yes, I do have to keep score every game until they lose. Because me being on the scorebook was somehow responsible for their performance.

I hate my brain sometimes.

The test comes in their next game. When they play Friday night, I’ll be on my way to a high school football game. If they win, I’m off the hook. If they lose, though, I clearly have to grab the scorebook next Monday.

  1. Which I just now, in August, realize I forgot to do at halftime of the Stanford game last year. Dammit! 
  2. Speaking of that, as the top of the fourth was beginning, a parent came over and asked for the score. When I told him he asked, “Isn’t there a mercy rule or something?” 
  3. Whiteyball! 

Some Kid Stuff

After that two day, mini-week to begin the school year, we’re diving right in this week. Five full days of school. An athletic event every afternoon or evening. In the next five days we have two kickball practices, two kickball games, and one soccer practice. We could add another event, too, as we’re still waiting to hear when L.’s soccer team will practice. And high school football begins this week.

Our neighbors, who are empty nesters but spent many weekends when we first lived here shuttling their boys to games and events all over the area, warned us of this. I guess there’s no turning back now.

S. took the girls for a bike ride Saturday. Just around the corner, on their way home, one of L.’s training wheels fell off. Sunday night, I was standing in the driveway talking to a neighbor when I saw L. go cruising by on a training wheel-less bike. Wait, what? Yep, she mastered riding on two wheels in about five minutes. It took a week or so of intense effort with M. two years ago. C. was on the verge last year then lost interest, but figured it out quickly this spring. And now L. has beat them both.

The funny thing is L. was begging me to help her ride C.’s bike the other day and I told her just to stay with her bike for now and we’d work on riding on just two wheels in the spring. She sure showed me!

Last night we were going through the list of things L. needs to master this year. Basic information like her address, phone number, birthday, days of week, etc. There’s also a short list of religious facts she needs to learn as well. S. asked her if she could make the sign of the cross. L. nodded and stuck her fingers up, making a cross with them rather than, you know, actually crossing herself. I had to look away so L. didn’t see me cracking up.

Later, when she was out of the room, I told S., “That’s my daughter!”

Finally, one thing I forgot to mention from a couple weeks back. We were all working hard to get everything packed up to head to the LVS for the weekend. The girls have a general rule that they can take as much stuff as they can cram into a backpack or book bag. They know to throw some books, their DSes, a stuffed animal or two, and maybe a game in. As I was trying to cram all the food and drink for the weekend into the back of the car, M. and L. walked out with their bags.

“Where’s C.?” I asked.
“She’s upstairs. She has seven bags,” said L..
“Yeah,” nodding, “Seven bags.”

I went upstairs and C. walked out of her room with, yes, seven bags draped over her shoulders, around her neck, and across her arms. And then she had the nerve to act surprised when we told her she could only take one.

Sometimes I don’t know what’s going on in that kid’s head.

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