Month: October 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Game Five

No where does recency bias rear its ugly head more than in sports. Whatever game we just watched always drowns out the games of the past.

That acknowledged, last night’s/this morning’s game five of the World Series is surely one of the most entertaining games in the history of the game. I did not watch every pitch. I didn’t turn the game on until the girls went to bed, when the game had just entered the bottom of the second. I didn’t miss a pitch after that, though.

Seeing the Dodgers up 3–0 I figured that Clayton Kershaw was set up to blow through the Astros lineup as easily as he had done in game one. Maybe I’d even get to bed right around 11:00 again.

Pause for a moment while I laugh at myself, and please join in and laugh at me, too.

There. Soon the Dodgers were up 4–0. A blink of an eye later, the game was tied, Kershaw was out of the game, and the ballpark was rocking.

And then Cody Bellinger untied the game with a 3-run shot.

And then Jose Altuve freaking crushed one and we were tied again.

And it just kept going. Astros seem to take a commanding lead and even add an insurance run. Then the Dodgers mount a furious ninth-inning rally to tie it again. In the 10th, the Dodgers hit a couple absolute rockets that are a fraction of an inch on the bat from being a double and a home run. Then the Astros scratch and claw to score the winning run the old fashioned way: HBP, walk, single. All with two outs.

Man, what a game.

But there was much more. Dave Roberts, for some unknown reason, playing for one run in the 7th and having his clean up hitter bunt, which results in Justin Turner, who led the inning off with a double, getting gunned down at third. The Dodgers still scored in that frame, but Roberts prevented what could have been a huge inning.

In the 8th, Chris Taylor thought his third base coach told him “NO, NO!” instead of “GO, GO!” and failed to score on a pop out to right. He may have been out at the plate, but the audio Fox played later showed it was Taylor’s mishearing of his instructions that kept him planted on third. In the bottom of the 8th, Evan Gattis hit a solo homer that seemed meaningless at the time but ended up being huge. In the 9th Yasiel Puig hit a one-handed home run and then Taylor somehow hit a ball that was inches above home plate into center to tie the game.

The pitching uniformly sucked. Seriously, everyone who threw last night should lose their access to whatever special benefits and honors that come with being a big league hurler for a couple weeks. Just an embarrassment to the craft, I don’t care about the pressure of the situation, the bandbox right field fence, if something is weird about the World Series balls, etc. Can anyone get anyone out around here?

The game lasted so long that Fox was caught off-guard and skipped two entire commercial breaks until they could figure something out. This from the network that began inserting six second ads during meetings on the mound.

Oh, and let’s not forget home plate umpire Bill Miller who rocked one of the worst strike zones ever. Houston manager A.J. Hinch summed up everyone in America’s thoughts when he turned to one of his assistants and said, “I don’t know where the strike zone is,” after consecutive Brad Peacock pitches that had been strikes all night were called balls. I’m sure Kiki Hernandez is still trying to figure out how a ball that nearly hit him in the head was called a strike. When even a former pitcher in the broadcast booth says, “That’s not a strike,” at least half a dozen times, you know it’s a rough night for the ump.

But Miller’s bad performance just added to the legend of this game. For the second time this postseason – along with game five of the Cubs-Nats NLDS series – I found myself looking at the clock and thinking, “Screw it, I can’t not see how this one ends.” Thus I was finally climbing the stairs to go to bed at about 1:45 AM. I had to laugh and think of all the DVRs in Houston that will forever have a bunch of random shows that were scheduled to air at 11:30/12:00/12:30 local time that their owners scrambled to record to make sure they got all of the game.[1]

Whether it is one of the best games ever is a whole other question. I’m sure a lot of baseball fans my age would prefer game seven from 1991 if we’re talking about 10-inning thrillers with walk-offs. But to the casual fan, I bet a lot folks would much rather watch last night’s 13–12 Houston win over Minnesota’s 1–0 win 26 years ago. Of course, you could have played all of ’91’s game seven, and then a good chunk of another game in the time it took to play last night’s contest. Good or bad, I think this game represents where baseball is at in 2017. For that alone, it belongs up there with the last two games of the ’91 series, game seven of the 2001 series, game six of the 1975 series, etc.

As ridiculous as a five hour, 17 minute baseball game is, when you pack that much entertainment into it, somehow it was worth every second.


  1. Our DVR has a couple Fox football preview shows from the night of game six of the 2015 ALCS, and then The Simpsons and Two and a Half Men episodes from the night/morning of game five of that year’s World Series.  ↩

Friday Playlist

“Wolf Lie Down” – The Fresh & Onlys. Man, I hate bands that hold their music back from streaming services. This song was released as a single back in June but F&O didn’t allow it to stream until recently. This kicks ass and is a perfect summer song. Oh well, at least we get to enjoy it now.

“Emotion” – Curls. Christopher Owens once had a band named Curls. Then they broke up and he started a new band called Girls. Then he went solo. Now he has a new band called…Curls. Hmmm. Not that any of that matters, because this is just a good song.

“Every Day’s the Weekend” – Alex Lahey. Another fantastic female artist from Australia. Lahey is way poppier than Courtney Barnett, but she still has some of Barnett’s conversational style to her lyrics. Her debut album I Love You Like A Brother is really, really good.

“What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?” – Gang of Youths. Here’s my latest musical obsession. Writer Steven Hyden tweeted earlier this week that he missed their album Go Farther In Lightness when it came out earlier this year, but had been digging it of late. He described them as “The National on steroids.” I took a listen and was hooked. Yep, there’s a lot of The National in their sound. There’s also some of the grandiosity of Arcade Fire. You can hear a little early Springsteen in there as well. The entire album is a magnificent monster of a listen. It hit the threshold of me enjoying it enough to buy the entire thing, burn it to disk, and pop it in the vehicle CD player, which only happens a few times each year.

“Thriller” – Michael Jackson. Funny how this is always thought of as a Halloween song. I mean, everything about it screams Halloween, obviously. But I always remember the video being released right before Christmas, 1983 and think of the holiday season. But that’s just my weird, music memory brain at work.

World Series So Far

It’s been a pretty good World Series through two games. Rather than offering up random notes, I thought I’d share the four most interesting things about the series so far.

1) Game one checking in at 2:28 was perhaps the greatest thing in sports this year. Seriously, I watched an entire World Series game – complete with game one extended introductions – and was in bed before 11:00 Eastern! Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel deserve a Nobel Prize for their efforts.

2) As I don’t really care who wins (more on that in a second) I do not have to stay up to ridiculous hours when the games do stretch out, as it did last night for game two. When Cody Bellinger’s shot was caught just short of the wall to end the ninth inning, I killed the TV and went to bed. I did not know anything about what were apparently pretty crazy 10th and 11th innings until I woke this morning. As much fun as Octobers 2014 and 2015 were, I’m just fine not staying up until 1:00 AM for baseball.

3) Mary Hart! The former Entertainment Tonight host sits just behind home plate at Dodger Stadium. What makes Hart so great is how into the games she is. Sure, you’ll see her chatting up Larry King and other people around her in the early innings. But when it’s crunch time, she is locked in. Most notably in the 9th inning last night, while everyone around her was on their feet to begin the frame, she was hunched over watching nervously. Maybe she knew something, because Kenley Jansen gave up a game-tying homer moments later. She probably detected a flaw in his delivery and knew he was going to struggle a bit.

Even better, Mary Hart does not flinch when foul balls rocket toward her. Twice last night balls hit the screen directly behind home. Both times others around her put their hands up or ducked. Both times she sat stone still and watched. That’s the sign of a baseball pro and not someone who just shows up for the marquee games.

Also, Mary Hart is almost 67. She appears to be keeping it together pretty well. Bonus points for that. Not that I should, or society should, judge people based on their physical appearance.

4) My rooting interests. I came into the series wanting the Astros to win. Great story, American League team, played an important role in the Royals’ World Series run in 2015 so I have some sympathy for their fans, a couple former Royals in their dugout. Seemed easy. But while watching game one, L said she was rooting for the Dodgers, then said, “So you’ll probably root for Houston to be against me, right?” That hurt a little bit, so I found myself rooting for the Dodgers that night. I guess I’ve settled in as neutral, which is a weird place to be. I prefer to root for someone or against someone so I can get wrapped up in the drama.

Feeling Autumnal

In an unreal upset, it appears that fall is finally here.

Over the weekend the afternoon highs were still bumping up against 80, the sun was shining, and there was a lovely southern breeze. It felt more like the first week of September than mid-October. Which I was cool with. As much as I like fall, I much prefer summer. I’m down with wearing shorts and t-shirts up until Thanksgiving. Hell, S just went through the girls’ closets and rotated in all the fall clothes last Monday.

Someone flipped a switch Sunday night, though. Rain moved in, the winds shifted, and Mother Nature said, “I don’t think so.” It was damp and dreary the past two days, with highs not getting out of the 50s. Nights moving past chilly to cold. I kicked the furnace on last night. The forecast shows no real rebound other than a slight return to more seasonable temperatures. The next few nights will likely bring the first frost and hard freeze on back-to-back nights.

With the temperature changes has come a furious changing of colors in the leaves. Our late summer and early fall were so warm and dry it was beginning to look like the leaves were just going to drop without much change in color. But since Saturday trees all over the area have jumped from dull greens to bright oranges and reds. That’s pretty fresh.

With the weather change comes a more concerned look at the forecast for next Tuesday, Halloween night. I think we had all been lulled into thinking it would be another balmy, calm evening. Suddenly we’re reminded that sometimes Central Indiana weather can be a little dicey on October 31. Right now it looks like we’re in good shape: cool but dry. As long as we don’t get the rain we had two years ago, or the snow and driving winds we had three years ago, I can handle wearing a jacket while we make our rounds.

And then, holy shit, it’s November. Where does time go?

A Weekend Without Kid Sports

For the first time since way back in August we had no kid sports this weekend. That meant I got to fully immerse myself in televised sports. There was plenty of baseball, soccer, basketball, and football on our TV, along with a bonus dose of college basketball on my Twitter and email feeds. Some words about all that…


Baseball

Man, what an excellent ALCS. I only say that because the Houston Astros won. Had the Yankees pulled out either game six or seven and moved on to the World Series, I would likely have a different opinion. And be done with baseball for the year.

Thankfully the Astros got some big hits late in each game, some amazing pitching in game seven, and move on to play LA. That should be a dandy of a series and will likely come down to whichever team’s top two starters perform the best. Houston better hope they can keep scoring runs, as I don’t trust anyone in their bullpen in a close game whereas the Dodgers have a lock-down pen if they need to protect a one-run lead late. Feels like Dodgers in six, but I’ll be pulling for Houston.

The cloud that hangs over all of this is that it appears as though the Yankees are about to get really good again for some time. They are loaded with young talent, have more talent high in the minor league system, and the biggest contracts on the payroll all fall off over the next two years. That’s like the perfect storm for building a dynasty. It was nice when they were irrelevant for awhile.


Football

Here we are in year like 27 of the KU football rebuild with no signs of improvement. When KU hired David Beaty three-plus years ago, I was firmly in the camp of having to give him at least four and likely five years to get things turned around. With the hatchet job Charlie Weis did to the program, Beaty had to have the luxury of time to rebuild it the right way.

And while I think it was unrealistic to expect more than a couple wins from this year’s team, what should not have been unrealistic was a team that played better. Not a team that gets blown out by mediocre MAC teams in back-to-back games. Not a team that can’t do the simplest things right. Not a team that often looks thoroughly lost.

There was some optimism, most likely misplaced, coming into this season. A close loss (that should have been a win) against TCU last year. The overtime win against Texas. The preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year. A new quarterback.

Turns out it’s the same old shit. A team that isn’t just overmatched in terms of talent, but looks poorly coached.

That’s the big rub against Beaty. When Mark Mangino took over the program, it took him a few years to increase the talent level on the roster. But he and his staff taught the kids he had how to play smart football. They might not have been able to run with Oklahoma’s receivers, but they were always in the right spot and didn’t make the same mistakes twice. This year’s team shows none of that intelligence or ability to learn. And that’s coaching.

I think Beaty is probably safe this year, simply because athletic director Sheahan Zenger will not be allowed to hire a third head football coach. No matter what he’s done to support the other sports and keep Bill Self happy, he’s the guy who panicked and hired Weis, and then bought into the idea of Beaty and his Texas ties turning the talent base around over hiring a guy with coaching chops. If I were Zenger, I’d be thinking about where I’d want to move my family later this year.

And here’s a thought: quit worrying about hiring some offensive genius. Let’s hire a defensive coach and see how that works. Hell, I’d switch to an option offense, or something crazy like that. Stop competing with, oh, every other program in the country for kids that can play in the various flavors of the spread offense and go back to a 1980s-style running game. It seriously can’t get any worse. Why not try something totally different?

Speaking of jokes, Sunday I got to watch my first Colts game of the year. Those guys are a complete disaster. And as I think Andrew Luck’s injuries are the football gods trying to fix their mistake of allowing the Colts to transition straight from Manning to Luck, I think all the other issues the Colts have are karmic retribution for not taking care of Luck. The latest? First round pick Malik Hooker blew out his knee when he was blindsided by a Jags player yesterday. He’s done for the season. Jacksonville is a rapidly improving team, but they barely broke a sweat in rushing out to a 20–0 halftime lead. A lead that really should have been 35–0. It ended up being the Colts first regular season shutout loss since 1993. Yikes. Oh well, that means more time on Sundays for me.

C actually went to the game with a friend. It was her first Colts game. They had pretty good seats, and she had a really good time. She doesn’t know much about football but knew enough to figure out the Colts sucked. She giggled while telling us stories of Colts fans booing their own team, and Jags fans who were making fun of them. And even she wondered out loud why the roof wasn’t open on the last, beautiful, warm day for several weeks.[1]


Basketball

I’m kind of digging all this buzz about the NBA. Maybe it’s just the right point in the web’s history, but it seems like more major sports sites are devoting more time to the NBA than in the past. There’s a different buzz around the beginning of the season than there used to be. We’ve watched parts of all three Pacers games so far, and a few minutes of other games. Pacers? Not good, but not bad enough to be in the hunt for Michael Porter Jr. or Marvin Bagley or DeAndre Ayton next June. Limbo is the worst place to be in the NBA.

Still, I keep telling myself as soon as college basketball begins, I’m much more likely to watch a Butler game than the Pacers, or some top 25 matchup in college than the Cavs playing Boston. To be a casual, yet devoted, fan of the NBA seems like a pretty daunting task. Which I know is a weird thing to say as a guy who watches 130 Royals games each summer. But that’s one team I have to worry about. If I dive into the NBA, there are a couple games each night I need to try to balance with shows I watch, books I’m ready, and college hoops.

I figure I’ll watch more this year than I did in the past, but I’m not ready to go all-in with the NBA just yet. If the Sixers are on, I’ll watch to try to catch Jojo’s act.[2] Until he gets hurt, that is. If the Warriors are playing in the eastern half of the country, L will want to watch them. And I’ll try to catch Wiggins, Jackson, the Morrii, and the other KU guys when they’re on national TV.

And then there was The Scrimmage yesterday in Kansas City. Yep, Kansas took on Ol’ Mizzou in a “scrimmage” to raise money for hurricane victims. As it was the first meeting between the teams in over five years, it was kind of a big deal. I was intrigued by the scrimmage, as it would certainly show more about KU’s talent than their exhibition games against D2 schools. But not intrigued enough to drop $40 for the pay per view. Not intrigued enough to sit and refresh my Twitter feed non-stop for two hours to get updates, either. But I was paying attention in between doing laundry, prepping dinner, etc.

Sounds like it was a good day all around. Big crowd, lots of money raised. Mizzou showed that Porter Jr. and his buddies are all legit talents and MU basketball isn’t a joke anymore. KU showed that Devonte Graham is a legit All-American candidate and if LaGerald Vick, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, and/or Marcus Garrett can combine to be a poor-man’s Josh Jackson, this team can lose in the Elite Eight again. Oh, and KU looked sloppy late in the first half, fell behind by as many as six, and then dropped the hammer in the middle of the second half before cruising and nearly blowing the lead. It felt like February!

I generally support Bill Self’s stance to not play Missouri. No need to rehash the whys and who’s fault is its again. But this was a good thing. And I would not be terribly surprised if the teams are in the same bracket this coming March.

Well, there was weekend one without kid sports. L actually begins basketball practice next weekend, but no games until December, so I’ll have a few more weekends loaded with TV sports.


  1. Folks were bemused about the parameters the Colts use to decide whether the roof will be open or closed back when the team was winning. Now that the team is awful, folks get enraged about it. In truth, it’s just another sign of how dysfunctional the entire organization is.  ↩
  2. I was looking at Embiid shirseys the other night. You can get a game-worn jersey for a cool $7500!  ↩

Reader’s Notebook + Friday Playlist

A slightly different format this week. All because I took the girls to the library yesterday, as I always try to do on the first day of a school break. I want them loaded up with books and videos for even just a long weekend so that there’s no complaining about not having anything to do and being bored. I checked for some books on my list and saw that [Runnin’ With the Devil: A Backstage Pass to the Wild Times, Loud Rock, and the Down and Dirty Truth Behind the Making of Van Halen] was available, so I grabbed it. I began reading it at about 4:30 in the afternoon. I took a break for dinner and some work around the house then sat back down and didn’t stop until I had finished the book at about 12:45.

Obviously this was an entertaining book!

It’s written by Noel Monk, the tour manager of the band’s first tour in 1977, when the headlining act was Journey, who were touring with Steve Perry for the first time. After that tour, Van Halen asked Monk to take over as their band manager, a role he filled until he was dismissed in 1985.

This fits the classic “rock ’n’ roll tell all” format. He details all the craziness of being on tour, from the girls and drugs to beating the crap out of t-shirt bootleggers; the whirlwind ride the band was on from ’77-84, when the pretty much toured-recorded-toured-recorded endlessly; how the band handled fame and how their success caused rifts within the band early on; how they dealt with the first disappointing selling album of their career (Fair Warning) by paying radio stations across the country to play it; and then a deep dive in the last 18 months of the David Lee Roth era, when the band reached its highest level of commercial success but was literally falling apart because of insane drug usage and a huge rift between DLR and Edward.

Why write this book now? Good question! Turns out when Monk was fired, he sued the band. Part of their settlement was a long blackout period in which he couldn’t write, talk, or film anything about his relationship with the band. Apparently that prohibition lasted for roughly 30 years.

Knowing that, you have to take most of what he writes with a huge grain of salt. Is he still bitter and trying to make them look bad? Other than Michael Anthony, everyone in the band comes off looking pretty shitty, although Eddie less so than Alex and DLR.(fn) He shares some pretty staggeringly bad stories about the band. But, come on, they were a rock band in the 1970s and 80s. Even if he stretches the truth a bit, or tweaks facts to make the guys look bad, I’m pretty sure his story isn’t that far from the truth. I doubt the band has too much room to argue, regardless of what really happened back then.

If you’ve ever been a fan of Van Halen, or just enjoy insider books about bands, this is a must read. Just be warned, you might not move for roughly eight hours until you’ve completed it.

With that in mind, today’s playlist consists of some of my favorite DLR era Van Halen songs.

“Runnin’ With the Devil” – One of the all-time great side one, track ones on a debut album. Musical memory can be funny, but I’ve always sworn that I remembered hearing this song around the neighborhood we lived in when it first came out. I was only 7, so I surely wasn’t listening to Van Halen. But there were teenagers around, including high school sisters that often watched me after school. So it’s not unreasonable to think I heard this often back in 1978.

“Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” – Lotta’ commas in that title. Some folks have suggested that Van Halen was a mid-point between heavy metal and punk. I’ve always thought that was a stretch; they certainly had metal roots, but were too firmly rooted in the mainstream to be punk. You hear some of the menace of the punk world in this song, though.

“Dance the Night Away” – DLR asserts his preferences here, on a song that was made for the Top 40, but still rocked.

“Everybody Wants Some!” – Great song, made greater by its use in [Better Off Dead].

“(Oh) Pretty Woman” – I remind you all every summer how I love Diver Down. For a band that released a lot of covers early in their career, this is the finest. A roaring beast of a song that sounds nothing like what Roy Orbison had written nearly 30 years earlier.

“Panama” – The greatest Van Halen song ever. No arguments allowed. Everything they ever tried to do is perfected in this song. Cars, girls, big drums, caterwauling vocals. Well, there was one notable exception: there’s no massive EVH guitar solo to anchor the song down. They get away with that, though, because his romping riff that kicks off the song, and carries all the way through, is as big and recognizable as any of his legendary solos.

“Hot For Teacher” – 1984 is pretty clearly their best album, although I really can’t stand Jump. Where “Panama” was their best song, this one was not too far behind. It added that DLR sense of humor and shtick. Even 30+ years later, DLR yelling, “OH MY GOD!” at the song’s close makes me laugh. Pretty solid video, too, especially if you were 13 when it was released.

Reader’s Notebook, 10/19/17

The Outlaw Album – Daniel Woodrell
It had been awhile since I read a Woodrell book, so I glanced at the library’s offerings and grabbed this. I didn’t know it was a short story collection and may have skipped it had I known. In fact, calling it a short story collection might be giving it too much credit. It feels more like Woodrell unloading his notebook of half-fleshed out ideas and packaging them for the benefit of his publisher. There are a couple decent nuggets in here, but many of the pieces feel more like writing exercises that full-blown ideas.


Night Heron – Adam Brookes
I follow a few politics and national security folks on Twitter who, occasionally, like to throw out ideas for good spy novels. I had never heard of Brookes before but his name recently came up in one of those conversations as an author who really gets the tradecraft side of the genre right. Throw in that this is the first in a trilogy, and it went right onto my To Read list.

Night Heron begins with a prisoner, called Peanut because of his physical shape, at a labor camp in remote western China breaking free and returning to Beijing. He slowly works his way back into society as we learn about his past life: he worked in the missile technology section of the Chinese military but was imprisoned after attacking a soldier during the 1989 student protests. He has another secret as well: he and several of his colleagues had passed top secret information on to the British. His contact in the 1980s was a British agent who posed as a journalist, so he seeks out a British journalist to reopen his connection with London.

That journalist is Philip Mangan, a free lancer who has spent years in China and occasionally run afoul of the government for his coverage of religious and ethnic minorities they persecute. Mangan has no experience with espionage and blanches when first contacted by Peanut. When he mentions this contact to a friend at the British embassy, alarms go off all over the British intelligence service and Mangan is quickly forced to serve as chief contact with Peanut.

Like many spy novels, there is a good deal of setup and placing of pieces before the final 150 or so pages bring everything together and roar by at a quick pace. Things get rather dark over those pages and Mangan and Peanut feel the hands of the Chinese security service slowly closing around them. There are a couple rather unlikely escapes, but given the genre they seem appropriate.

Brookes was a journalist in China for much of his career, so he writes of the country and its government from a place of familiarity. And given how well the spy stuff flows, you wonder what his personal history is beyond just chasing stories for newspapers and TV. I’m very interested to see where he takes me in the next two books in the series.


Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows – Richard Cahan and Michael Williams
I don’t usually write about the photography books I flip through. But this one is special. I imagine some of you have heard the story of Vivian Maier. She served as a nanny and caretaker in the Chicago area for nearly 50 years, almost always carrying a camera with her. She was constantly taking pictures, but never shared them with anyone. In 2007, after she failed to pay her rent on a storage facility where many of her photos were stored, they went up for auction. They were split among several buyers who purchased them having no idea what they were getting. It turned out Maier was one of the most interesting photographers of her age, capturing the details of life in the American suburbs and city from the late 1950s through the 1990s.

Following her death in 2009, when more of her photos were discovered, it became apparent how important a find her work was. Showings were arranged at some of the most important galleries in the US. To date five books of her work have been published. Most famously, the documentary Finding Vivian Maier was released in 2013.

Her story is fascinating not just because of her work, but also because she was such a reclusive and mysterious woman. As she never published her work during her life, there are no deep, contemporary biographies of her. The people that purchased her photos have had to dig through public records to learn of her childhood in New York and France, talk to the families she worked for over the years (including, briefly, Phil Donahue), and seek hints in the captions she only occasionally wrote on the pictures she had printed. The portrait we have of her is of a lonely, hard woman with an eye for the areas in which modern society lets down its citizens. She had a passion for the underprivileged. She generally worked for rather well-to-do families, and would often take the children she cared for into poor, run down sections of Chicago to both take pictures and show those kids that there were people with very different lives a short bus ride away from their homes.

While much of Maier’s story is sad – especially her final years – I find a lot of inspiration in her story. There was the way she lived her life, with no apologies to anyone for her behavior, appearance, or beliefs. There was her empathy for others, something I believe is sorely lacking these days. And there is the impact she has had on so many others. It doesn’t matter that she died nearly penniless and didn’t enjoy any of the critical approval of her work. Her photos make people stop and think. They show how even if the results don’t come until well after you have passed, you can still have a profound emotional effect on people if you do something that you love.

Weekend Notes

A quick (and late) rundown on our weekend. Which had a little cray-cray in it.

Saturday was a freaking perfect day. Low 80s, breezy. One of those mid-October days that you wish you could hang onto for the next five months. So of course we spent it blowing leaves at the lake house and then hauling the boat out for the winter.

There was a wrinkle to our winter boat plans this year. The place where our boat was originally purchased, and where we’ve stored it the four winters we’ve had it, went out of business at the end of the summer. We used it not just because it was where the boat came from and because they were an authorized dealer for our brand, but because it was about the easiest major boat place to get to. Once we got it off the rickety, country roads near the lake, it was a straight shot up a county highway. Only two lanes until you hit the city, top speed limit 55. As long as I kept it straight, I was good. And things got much easier two years ago when we upped the size of our vehicle that pulled it.

But now I would have to get on the interstate for at least part of the jaunt to the boat place. I don’t know why, but hauling a trailer and a 3000 pound boat at 65–70 miles per hour stressed me out way more than driving those curving, hilly roads that have nowhere to bail out if you get into trouble. I guess it was because I don’t really know much about trailers and was concerned maybe something was wrong with either our trailer itself, or how we hook it up, that would present itself at 65 on a four-lane interstate but not at 35 on a rural, two-land road.

Everything turned out just fine. Those 10–12 minutes on I–465 were a little white-knuckley, but we made it to the shop without losing the trailer or boat or causing any accidents. She’ll sit there for six months before we get to make the trip back south for the summer of ’18.

BTW, it was in the mid–30s down near the lake this morning, so we got it out right in time.


Sunday was supposed to be L’s last soccer game of the year. The weather turned cold, blustery, and rainy that day, though, so we rescheduled it for tonight.

Our wackiness kicked in Sunday night. Or Monday morning, rather. I heard something kind of bang around that was loud enough to wake me up. Moments later I heard a car door slam and pull away. I glanced at the clock and saw that it was just after 2:00.

We have a Nest camera at our front door, but at night I silence the notifications so I don’t get woken by every moth that flies by. Or spider that builds a web right on the lens, which happened a couple weeks ago.[1] I picked up my phone and there were two new notifications from the camera. I swiped, watched the clips, and ran downstairs. The video showed a couple kids running up to our front door, grabbing some of our Halloween stake lights and the pumpkin L had carved the night before, and then running back to a car parked in front of the house. The banging around I heard was because the dumbass who was harvesting our lights didn’t unplug them from the extension they were on, and a large, plastic pumpkin “chased” him until the cords finally decoupled.

When I got downstairs, they were already gone. I looked around and made sure there was no damage or graffiti or other nonsense, and all appeared fine. I watched the video again. One kid had a hoodie on, but the other kid’s face was partially visible. Unfortunately the headlights from their vehicle kept me from being able to identify the make/model.

I tried to go back to bed but I was a little wound up. It was close to 4:00 before I was out again.

After I got the kids to school I checked with my neighbor, who also has a Nest cam, to see if his video showed anything. On his we could see a couple more kids walking around, that they were driving a Jeep, and that there appeared to be other pumpkins thrown in the back.[2] But the taillights blinded the night vision camera and we couldn’t grab a license number.

Since there was no damage and we were only out about $10, I didn’t file a police report. I just let our HOA know and then sent the videos over to the police in case there were other reports of theft/vandalism at the same general time.

Now what the hell were teenagers doing out at 2-something AM on a Monday morning? Because it was freaking fall break in the district we live in.

I loathe fall break. I think it’s a useless interruption in the academic calendar for schools that remain on the traditional August-May school year. Why the hell do we need two days (or more) off this time of year? It’s not like spring break, when we’ve been suffering through 2–5 months of brutal weather. And it totally screws up youth sports, as different schools being on different break schedules means you go through a three-week period where at least one kid is going to be gone.

You’d think with our kids going to Catholic schools things would be regulated, but they’re not. A few schools in the Archdiocese had their break two weeks ago. Ours is this Thursday and Friday. So while we’re not in any CYO sports right now, plenty of our friends have had to deal with reschedulings because St. Whoever is on break and none of their girls can play basketball on a given weekend.

Garbage.

I have two ideas to fix fall break:

1) As most schools give 2–3 days for fall break, let’s move those to November and give everyone the entire week of Thanksgiving off. That’s when kids need a break, and every year it seems like more families duck out a day or two early anyway.

2) Or even better, GET RID OF THE FUCKING BREAK. It’s useless. Take those added days to bump the beginning of the school year back. Our girls have been starting on a Wednesday or Thursday for several years. Push that back to the following Monday and we have one more weekend of true summer.

I think I’ve found a new cause…


  1. No shit, I had 60 notifications the next morning. In each one you could see the spider slowly moving back-and-forth across the face of the camera and its slowly building web.  ↩
  2. My first thought was that these were all going to be placed in one person’s yard, likely a friend or rival from school. Not that I did anything like that with election signs back in the fall of 1988.  ↩

Good Information To Have

Men are idiots.

I say that with shame as a man, and with fear as a father.

I’m honestly not sure why people are shocked and surprised about the Harvey Weinstein news. We should be disgusted and horrified, but surprised? Hell naw. His years of sexual harassment and abuse of women going public is kind of like Louisville getting hammered for paying high school basketball players: you damn well know this isn’t some isolated case. CEOs, regional directors, and store managers have been using sex as a weapon against the women who work for them as long as women have been in the workforce.[1]

Fortunately for all the guys out there who can’t seem to understand that women who work for and with them are not their personal sex toys, Anne Victoria Clark put together this informative primer on how to deal with women in business and social situations.

The Rock Test: A Hack for Men Who Don’t Want To Be Accused of Sexual Harassment

It shouldn’t be that difficult, fellas.


  1. Some, not all, I should make clear.  ↩

Friday Playlist

“Dark On Us” – Lucas Oswald. A Shearwater member’s solo effort. Not too shabby.

“Offa My Hands” – Jessica Lea Mayfield. Mayfield’s new album, Sorry Is Gone, is focused on an abusive relationship she recently escaped. She left the relationship with a broken shoulder following a physical encounter. Heavy stuff. And while the lyrics of this song are heavy as well, I do enjoy the little bit of whimsy she sings them with and the confident sway of the music behind her. 

“Back In Your Head” – Tegan and Sara, Ryan Adams. The sister duo of Tegan and Sara chose to honor the 10th anniversary of their breakthrough album, The Con, by having some of their favorite artists join them to cover the entire disk. So of course Ryan Adams is involved. This is a fine update of the original, which was bouncy and light. Now it is loud and crunchy, fitting perfectly into what Adams has been doing over his last few albums.

“Man On The Moon” – R.E.M. It took me a long, long time to get into R.E.M. At first I was too young for them. Then too pop. Then too R&B/hip hop. But by 1992 my tastes had drifted their way. Automatic For The People was the first R.E.M. album I ever bought shortly after it came out. We just hit the 25th anniversary of its release, so I’ve been skimming some retrospectives for it over the past few days. And I spun the disk last night. It’s such a beautiful, sad, and perfect album. I could have picked any song to include here, but I’ve always been amazed at how they wrote such a compelling song about Andy Kaufman. 

“Brilliant Disguise” – Bruce Springsteen. Why not one more album anniversary this week? Tunnel of Love came out 30 years ago Tuesday. Wow! I’ve long expressed my love for that album, so no need to reiterate it again. I loved this piece I read over the week on the album. And I couldn’t agree more with the author’s comments about “Brilliant Disguise.” Every single word is stunning and perfect. And this is a highly underrated video. Gorgeous cinematography and an amazing, live vocal track. I still remember seeing it for the first time with a group of people and someone saying, “He just looks so sad,” during the extreme closeup at the end. 

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