Month: October 2018 (Page 1 of 2)

The Elephant In The Room

I’m sure several of my loyal readers have been anticipating this post. So, finally, here are some disjointed thoughts on college hoops, shoe companies, and the FBI.

It’s been a crazy ass few weeks for college basketball in general, and KU basketball in particular. The first of several trials that resulted from the FBI investigation into shoe companies and agents allegedly defrauding universities featured KU at the center.

When the trial began, I was hoping that nothing worse that what we already knew about KU’s ties to the case would come out. As the trial played out, my reaction went along a timeline that is something like this:

Crap, holy crap, shit, holy shit, HOLY FREAKING SHIT.

In short, it was not a good week for KU hoops.

But as the trial wrapped up, I think things improved for KU. At least from the NCAA perspective, which really is the only one that matters.

Let’s get this out of the way first. I don’t believe Bill Self when he says he was unaware that Adidas was paying kids to go to KU.

I also don’t believe Sean Miller. Or Roy Williams. Or Coach K. Or Rick Pitino. Or Tom Izzo. Or (fill in every other D1 coach here) when they make the same assertions.

Each of these coaches may have very different relationships with the “dirty” side of recruiting. But I don’t think anyone can operate at the highest level of the game, where they are recruiting the top players against the top programs each year, and not have an idea that players they sign may have received cash from the shoe company that sponsors their school.

I think there may be some coaches on that list, and across college hoops as a whole, who stick their heads in the sand and decide to ignore it. If it benefits them, great. They’re just not going to get involved directly.

I think most of the best programs out there have someone aside from the head coach whose job it is to coordinate efforts so that recruits get paid while the head man keeps his hands clean. And each one of those head coaches has a carefully prepared defensive strategy that is several levels deep so that there can always be an explanation away if the dots start connecting too close to them.

See Bill Self’s statement last week, which was absolutely perfect for heading off an NCAA inquiry. He pointed out that everyone knows that shoe companies have been spreading money around grassroots hoops for years. That he’s recruited Adidas kids who signed with non-Adidas programs. That he’s signed kids who never wore Adidas until they got to KU. That he, and his staff, have never directed Adidas to spread out cash on their behalf.

He said all the things he had to say to begin laying out his defense. How much of it is true, and to what extent, I have no idea.

It helps KU that former Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola had already plead guilty to the charges facing him, and then testified that the money he paid to Billy Preston’s mom and offered to Silvio De Sousa’s guardian came without KU’s knowledge. As the beneficiary of a plea deal, he risks a lengthy prison sentence if he testifies falsely.

It helps KU that Gassnola testified that he helped Billy Preston’s mom hide the payments from KU, and coached her on how to guide Billy through not disclosing the money to KU.

As writer Dan Wetzel pointed out during the trial, the transcript of KU assistant Kurtis Townsend discussing what it would take to sign Zion Williamson could end up not hurting KU either. Why? Because Williamson signed with Duke. And, as Wetzel wrote, are we really supposed to believe that Zion’s dad was asking for cash, a home, and employment and then signed with Duke for nothing? Or that the NCAA would ever look into anything Duke did? Wetzel called Duke KU’s get out of jail free card.

I’m not naive enough to think kids that go to KU – or any of the other top basketball schools in the country – aren’t getting more than tuition, room and board, and their monthly stipend. I don’t know whether the $90K Billy Preston’s mom got is routine or an aberration.

The thing I continue to think is very strange, however, is that KU never let Preston play, and even worked with the NCAA for three months to get him eligible. Do they do that if they were helping the kid get paid? If they facilitated the payments, don’t they either play him and hope no one ever finds out or just cut him loose if they think the NCAA is going to connect payments directly to the KU staff? Why do they take Cliff Alexander off the court in February of his freshman year if they had helped his family get paid? Why do they work to get De Sousa eligible mid-season if they knew Adidas had helped him repay Under Armour for the cash they gave his guardian to sign with Maryland?

It makes no sense to me why they would work directly with the NCAA if they had a hand in those kids getting cash. I don’t think Bill Self is that brazen. And I believe that will be enough to keep KU out of NCAA trouble.

So what happens from here?

Assuming more does not come out, I think the most likely scenario is that De Sousa will be the sacrificial lamb and never play for KU again. The NCAA will say it was because he got money from UA, rendering him ineligible. They will buy Gassnola’s statement that he never actually paid De Sousa’s guardian. And then the NCAA will either believe Gassnola’s testimony that Self and KU were unaware of his payments to Preston’s mom, or they will just refuse to look into it, saying that the US government proved in court that KU was defrauded by Adidas and there is no need to investigate.

I say that because I’d bet Wetzel was right: I don’t think the NCAA wants a thing to do with digging into this, because once the digging starts everyone is going to get dirty. The NCAA would love it if the defendants in the next set of trials all plead guilty and there is no more public airing of wiretaps that show college coaches discussing payments for players. They don’t want to put more light on the deals like Josh Jackson and Marvin Bagley’s parents got, which are technically according to the rules, but remain deeply troublesome ethically. They have zero interest in penalizing likely every top program in the game, pissing off all those coaches and administrators and fans, placing question on past tournament results, and threatening future tournament ratings by putting a swath of elite schools on probation.

I think the NCAA wants to sit back and wait for the NBA to change the one-and-done rule and then claim that will clean up the game.

Which is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Does anyone honestly believe that if Williamson, Bagley, Jackson, etc. can go straight to the NBA that will change recruiting? Coaches still want to, and need to, win. Even if the top 20 recruits all go pro each each, coaches will still fight like mad to sign the next 20 who can help them win. Those kids may not get as much money as the lottery picks, but you can be sure someone is going to shoot some cash their way to make their college decisions easier.

My biggest wish out of all of this is that some big time coach goes rogue. I want Self, or Miller, or Pitino, or someone else deeply involved, to burn bridges and start telling tales. I want one of them to stand up in front of the media and say this:

There have been a lot of questions about our recruiting practices and our relationship with shoe companies. Here’s the deal: we’ve paid every recruit we’ve signed since I’ve been here. We did it because if we didn’t, we’d never sign those kids, and then we’d never win any games and my athletic director and I would have been fired a decade ago.
Yeah, we paid Player X $50K to come here. That’s because Kentucky was offering him $40K. We babysat Player Y for three years, got him to a good prep school where all he had to do was ball and travel and they would make sure he was eligible. We moved his mom so she could be close to him. We had a car and a $75K check ready for him the day he signed. Then fucking Nike showed up with a check for $100K and a condo for his dad and he signed with Duke.

Wouldn’t that be awesome! I mean, it would tear the sport apart, but it would be a majestic meltdown.

Weekend Notes

A strangely busy yet boring fall break weekend.

L had a soccer tournament to wrap up her season. This came after not playing for two weeks and, unfortunately, it really showed. The girls, and L especially, were just not on their game.

Friday we played our opening game at 7:45 under the lights. The windchill was in the upper 30s, there was a stiff northerly breeze, and it was raining steadily. All-in-all a miserable night to do anything outside. We were playing a team we beat 2–1 in the regular season. Surprise, surprise, we got another, nervy, 2–1 win. We played our second round robin game Saturday against a team that beat us 8–1 to begin the season. We hung in for the first half and went into the break down just 1–0 on a freaky goal that went off our defender, off our goalie’s hands, and then off her foot into the goal. We melted down in the second half and lost 5–0.

Still, we made it through to the semis and took on a team we tied 3–3 during the regular season. We played really well for the first 25 minutes, mostly controlling the game. L had our only decent scoring chance and put it off the post. But right before half time we fell apart again, the last five minutes being played deep in our defensive end. The second half was the same: we could not get possession and were constantly scrambling in the back to clean things up. Our defense finally paid for being out of position and we let one through midway through the half. We never got a decent scoring chance after that and our season ended with a 1–0 loss.

L just had nothing all weekend. I don’t know if it was the weather – Saturday was cool and the field was still sloppy; Sunday it was warmer but very windy – if she wasn’t feeling well, if the two weeks off ruined her soccer stamina, or if she had just checked out mentally. Whatever it was, these were probably the three worst games she’s ever played. She just showed no energy, shied away from going after the ball, wouldn’t make runs when we had the ball, and basically played extremely out of character for her.

As a coaching parent, it was very frustrating. I let her have it a few times Sunday when she would just stand and watch where she used to get in the middle of the action and make things happen. Afterward I had to remind myself that we played three good defensive teams this weekend – she had scored just one goal against them in three regular season games – and all three were older teams. For playing most of the season against girls two years older than her, she still had a really good season. I think it was her lowest goal-scoring season ever, but she still had 9 or 10 in 10 games. Most importantly, I think she understands the areas she needs to get better in if she wants to keep playing. She needs to learn how control the ball better. How to do more than just do a series of fakes and step-backs when a defender cuts her off. How to pass the ball to others when the defense keys on her. Rather than play a winter sport, she’s most likely going to do some individual training with a local high school coach. I expect between that, and maybe a growth spurt that helps her compete against bigger girls, she’ll be just fine the next time she plays in a league.[1]

I was secretly relieved we lost in the semis. If we had advanced we would have played the team that smoked us Saturday again, and their coach is an annoying tool. Plus right around the time of the championship game we had wind gusts over 50 MPH, so that would not have been fun.

Oh, and we had a basketball game yesterday, too, which would have made playing soccer again rough.

L looked just fine at basketball, at least in the first half. She scored four, ran the floor well, played decent D. In the second half she looked pretty gassed, though, and kept losing the ball when she brought it up against pressure. They won – almost blowing a big lead but hanging on late – and are now 5–1 with one game to play before the tournament begins.

Whew. No surprise that she was pretty tired and sore last night.

M cheered for the final time yesterday. Our 7th/8th grade football team lost 7–6 in the City semis. She was bummed she’s done with cheer. She really enjoyed it, although I think it was mostly the hanging out with her friends that she liked more than the cheering part. She’s made some comments about wanting to cheer in high school. We’ve pointed out that in HS you need to have tumbling/gymnastics experience, which she has zero of. So we’ll see where that goes. I think the majority of her St. P’s friends that go to high school with her will likely not cheer either.

Speaking of high school, we got the final pieces of paperwork in for her application last week. Now we wait about three weeks before we hear. Her shadow day is tomorrow.

OK, onto other stuff from the weekend.

Hey, KU won a Big 12 football game! We’re tied for last place with the tie breaker over TCU! If the season ended today, we would be 9th! I was not able to watch the game between soccer, a visitor stopping by, and then a family party that took us away from home. I was following along online and via text updates from friends.[2] I think I’m glad I wasn’t able to see the final moments of the game. It would have been sooooooo KU football to leave a second on the clock then mess up the squib kick and give TCU a chance to kick a winning field goal. In fact, I’m shocked that didn’t actually happen. But, hey, KU has three wins this year. They really should have four if not for the mysterious absence of Pooka Williams week one. That won’t be enough to save David Beaty’s job, but at least you can argue there’s been progress. The big question is what is he leaving behind. If he is fired, how many non-seniors will decide to leave? He kind of messed up recruiting so he/the next coach will have very few scholarships to give out for next year, so it’s imperative that the program hang onto as many of the young guys as possible. Do that and you can start to squint hard enough to believe a good coaching hire this winter and a good recruiting class next year means mediocrity isn’t too far in the future. Ah, mediocrity! How I’ve missed you!

Five game World Series are strange beasts. A team winning 4–1 makes it seems like it was a boring series. The Royals-Mets series in 2015 proved that wrong, with two extra-inning games and a third that had a lead change in the 8th inning. I think this year’s will go down as fairly boring, although games three and four were the exceptions to that.

No, I did not stay up for all 18 innings of game three. Hell, I went to bed at the end of the 9th. Although, strangely, I could not sleep and kept waking up. After I saw the score Saturday morning, I was convinced my body knew there was an epic game going on in LA and wanted me to go downstairs and turn the TV back on. Game four was thoroughly enjoyable to a non-partisan fan. Dodger Stadium was coming unglued after Yasiel Puig’s home run in the 6th that put LA up by four. But, man, these Red Sox are relentless, and once they got that first run back, you knew the game, and the series, was over. The 9–5 final made it look like another blow out. But those last four innings were fun to watch.

I was really hoping for a seven game series, and not just to stretch the end of the season. I wanted to see how Alex Cora managed his pitching staff over seven games. I loved the way he mixed and matched all series to get his best arms on the mound in any situation. But I wondered if they could keep that up if the series had returned to Boston. David Price was simply amazing last night, and all series for that matter. I’m not a huge fan of his; he often seems like a joyless, bitter human being. But that performance last night was fantastic.

  1. She’s making noises about taking the spring season off from competitive soccer and playing CYO soccer. I’ve tried to tell her CYO soccer is kind of a disaster, but she really wants to play with a couple friends who aren’t skilled enough to play in her league anymore. We’ll see…  ↩
  2. The ESPN app feed glitched in the fourth quarter for about five minutes. It would update down and distance but not the clock. People were texting me that there were 30 seconds left but the app still said 6:00+. I have a friend who was following the game from Spain and she said it did the same thing to her. I think the app couldn’t believe KU was about to pull off the W.  ↩

Friday Vid

“Steppin’ Out” – Joe Jackson.

Wait, is it Friday already? These fall break weeks mess with my mind. The girls were arguing yesterday about what day it was; one insisted it was Saturday while another claimed it was Friday. And they only get two days off, so it really shouldn’t be that tough. We’ve had a couple sleepovers and another friend over to play. Today is our annual flu shots and Steak & Shake day. L has a soccer tournament that begins tonight, in the rain and cold. We’ll all probably be sick when they go back to school on Monday.

Last week’s local AT40 was from 1982. While listening I realized the fall of 1982 was this big, important moment in my musical life, when the music I listened to became like 90% mine. I was still influenced by what my mom listened to, for sure. But by that fall I was spending evenings home alone as she worked, had my own radio, and was finally listening exclusively to FM radio, which sheared off some of the 1970s remnants that the AM pop stations still played. I couldn’t pull out just one song from that countdown to write a Reaching For The Stars post about, but this one kind of sums up that fall, when the charts were full of varied and interesting sounds. This isn’t a terrible groundbreaking song in most ways. But to my 11-year-old ears, it sounded exotic and amazing.

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Each November I tell myself, “Self, you should really watch more than just the “Thanksgiving Orphans” episode of Cheers this year. Then I debate whether to just watch the rest of season five, which I own on DVD,[1] or dive into the entire series on a streaming service. And, every year, I end up just watching that single episode around Thanksgiving.

Last spring I came across the article I’ve linked to below. I read it and hung onto it, just in case one year I finally started watching old Cheers episodes.

Well, my friends, this is that year!

Last week I started Cheers from season one, episode one and am about halfway through the first year of TV’s greatest ever comedy.

A few takeaways:

  • The pilot was magical and perfect. Sometimes when you go back and watch the pilot of a classic show, it seems very different than what followed. Over-acting, unformed characters, things that were tried and discarded for other elements that became staples over time. S1E1 of Cheers avoids those errors. It is smart, funny, confident, provides origin stories for its key players, and plants all the seeds for what would come over the next 10+ seasons.
  • As I’ve watched season one, I’ve laughed at some of the technical elements that were lacking in TV back then. The camerawork is strange. Sometimes scenes are out-of-focus, or the camera is hunting through a scene to find the proper focus. Sometimes in stationary scenes the camera shakes. Today, those scenes would be reshot until they were perfect. And the sound was terrible. Some lines are inaudible because of noise from elsewhere on the set. Other lines, spoken off-camera, were clearly dubbed in later and are presented at a much louder level than the rest of the audio. I assume all of this is because of the big, open set that used boom mics that, back then, just couldn’t lock in on the desired actors without getting into the frame.
  • Ted Danson had a weird skin tone in season one. He was super tan, but whether because of the lighting or the cameras or just the deterioration of the tape over the years, he has a strange, greenish tone to his skin that makes him look ill.
  • I’ve laughed most at Coach’s lines. Back when Cheers was still something people talked about, I argued that Coach was a way better character than Woody Boyd. I still stand by that. Coach is an utter delight, and the closing scene of episode five, “Coach’s Daughter,” remains one of the greatest moments in the series’ history.
  • That episode highlighted what Cheers was so good at. It was a comedy – a barroom comedy for crying out loud – that was never afraid to offer intelligent, emotionally impactful scenes.

That leads me to the link. Last night I watched “Endless Slumper” and re-read the article after. As good as the closing scene of “Coach’s Daughter” is, “Endless Slumper” ends with an even more powerful moment. The author of the piece is right: you can feel the delicious tension in the audience in the 30 seconds when Sam is contemplating whether to take a drink or not. There is an intensity in the performances of Ted Danson and Shelly Long that the show had not offered before. But, as the show would do time-and-again over the years, it didn’t oversell the moment. There was always a release without stretching the drama out too long or turning it into a cheesy, “lesson” moment.

When Cheers Became Cheers: An Appreciation of ‘Endless Slumper’

My summer rewatching of The Office petered out in season five, when the show began throwing in the mid 80s instead of the low 90s. I’m pretty sure I’m in for Cheers for awhile, now. Or at least until it begins to disappoint, although I’m not sure that will happen.

  1. How quaint!  ↩

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 15

Chart Week: October 7, 1978
Song: “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’” – Kenny Loggins (with Stevie Nicks)
Chart Position: #10, 11th week on the chart. Peaked at #5 for two weeks in November.

Controversy! A countdown from the 1970s?!?!?! SiriusXM rebroadcasts original ‘70s AT40 countdowns on its 70s on 7 channel. Unlike their updated version of 1980s countdowns on 80s on 8, which are aired several times from Friday until Tuesday of each week, the 1970s AT40s were normally aired just once on Saturdays, which made it tough to catch them. Recently they began playing them a second time on Sunday mornings. Which is kind of my magic time if I’m in the car. I can listen to the two countdowns airing on Sirius plus the original 1980s AT40. Let me tell you, my family loves it when they’re stuck with me and I’m bouncing between three countdowns at once!11

Anyway, I caught this song a couple weeks ago. And I wondered, why is it not remembered more fondly, replayed more often, and a bigger part of our culture? It’s a freaking brilliant pop song, built on a near-disco bass line, that was perfectly crafted for singing with friends out of key and at the top of your lungs. When Kenny shouts out “Day by day, we can see…” buildings shake and begin to crumble, evil takes a pause and gets weak in the knees, and all that is good in the world pulses just a little bit stronger.

My only guess is that the song may have lent itself to interpretations that weren’t exactly family-friendly. “I know forever we’ll be doing it,” could be awkward to sing along with the kids in the family truckster. And, as I read the lyrics, it’s basically about enjoying the afterglow of good sex.

“Mom, what does it mean when love glows on you every night?”

Might the title lend itself to a naughtier interpretation? Specifically, why is the word friends in quotes? This was the late 70s; was seeing someone and calling them “friend” a signal that it was time to kick on the hot tub, lay out the bearskin rugs, and get down to make some little sweet love?

Still, why isn’t this a bachelorette party, karaoke staple? We should be sick of drunk 20-somethings belting this out with their friends at bars. Perhaps I should be thankful it never got that kind of attention, and I can still appreciate its greatness.

A couple song notes: Loggins wrote this with Melissa Manchester, but sang it with Stevie. Both Loggins and Manchester have said they’d like to record a version together, but in 40+ years have never gotten around to it. Manchester did record a version with Arnold McCuller in 1979, but never released it as a single.

Although Nicks is credited on the album as singing with Loggins, her name was left off of the single, which made this Loggins’ first true solo hit. In fact, if you throw out all the movie soundtrack songs he became most famous for in the 1980s, this was the biggest solo hit of his career.[1] He would never again crack the top 10 without benefit of a song being attached to a soundtrack.

Finally, Loggins’ Nightwatch album also featured a song he wrote with Michael McDonald, “What a Fool Believes.” I did not know that wasn’t a Doobies original.
I listened to Loggins’ version and, as you might expect, it’s not nearly as good as the Doobies’ classic.

Hmmm, the video does not want to embed, so please just follow this link.



  1. Loggins hit #1 with “Footloose” and #2 with “Danger Zone,” and had two other top 10 hits from movie soundtracks.  ↩

Friday Vid

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen. I haven’t been able to cobble together a playlist this week, so only a video for this Friday. But it’s an epic one. Believe it or not – given it was only 1982 – but this was the final Queen performance in the US. And their only appearance on SNL. Despite losing his voice that day, Freddie Mercury was in fine form. This was a solid A- performance until the band decided to rip everything up and rock out for the last two minutes. 

Reader’s Notebook, 10/16/18

I’ve been on a sports book tear the past couple weeks. Football, futbol, and golf.

Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times – Mark Leibovich
This book, by The New York Times Magazine’s chief national correspondent, arrived with nearly endless praise about a month ago. Promised as an investigation to the troubles the NFL faces in current times, it delivered as something perhaps not so comprehensive but way more fun than I expected.

First off, Leibovich does not cover all that ails the NFL. He does hit the biggest topics – kneeling for the anthem, concussions and other crippling injuries, ownership-player relations, the length of games, Jerry Jones, how the game presents better on TV than in person, Trump – but most of his time is devoted to issues surrounding his beloved Patriots. And, most importantly, Roger Goodell’s role in the game and how he has used those powers with respect to the Patriots.

Leibovich admits up front that the Patriots are a joyless, likely soulless organization and its fans are a collection of insufferable Massholes. Still, he goes to lengths to show how the Patriots may not be as evil as the rest of the world believes them to be, and how Goodell may have abused his powers in order to win favor with the rest of the league by aggressively pursuing investigations into the Pats’ activities.

I think some of that is garbage, although I was on-board from the beginning that Deflategate was stupid and largely a waste of everyone’s time.

What makes those parts of the book work is how Leibovich never hides his fandom but also never comes across like Bill Simmons, whining about how his team has been persecuted. He points out how the Pats have, indeed, done some shady shit over the years. He struggles with rooting for a team that, to a casual observer, can come across as evil much of the time.

Leibovich turns great access – he has a couple meetings with Brady and Kraft, goes to several owners’ events, and even gets wasted with Jones in an RV – into insightful observations about the state of the league. He cuts through a lot of the distracting bullshit the league dispenses to get folks not to think about the real issues facing the game. And he always does so with immense humor. Much of the book is laugh-out-loud funny, whether Leibovich is making fun of himself, Trump, Jones, or any of the other book’s many unsavory characters.

I don’t know that this is necessarily a required book to understand the state of the NFL today. But it’s a damn fun read.

Encyclopedia Blazertannica – Roger Bennett & Michael Davies
Bennett and Davies host the Men In Blazers podcast and TV show, both of which focus on the English Premier League. I’m, at best, casual consumers of both of those, just catching an episode here and there. But I always find them deeply funny. So I figured why not cruise through their encyclopedia? It is filled with definitions of all they find important to modern soccer. And it is filled with both humor and insight. A fine book to flip through over the course of a week during commercial breaks in games.

A Course Called Ireland – Tom Coyne
I’m not really sure what’s wrong with me,[1] but this is the second book I’ve read this year about someone walking around Ireland. No, I have no plans to ship off to the Emerald Island and walk its perimeter any time soon.

Unlike Round Ireland with a Fridge, where Tony Hawks traveled counterclockwise while toting a tiny refrigerator with him – and generally accepted rides from strangers – Tom Coyne took the opposite path. He began on the west coast and traveled with the clock, hitting golf courses along the way to play a “round around Ireland.” Over four months in 2007, Coyne played over 4500 shots on both some of Ireland’s most famous courses and many more that no one outside their communities had ever heard of.

Where Hawks’ trip was based on a drunken bet, Coyne’s grew from a golf trip to Ireland his father had taken him on when he was a teenager. Having already spent an entire year failing to qualify for the PGA tour, Coyne thought the perfect next golf challenge would be to do Ireland on foot to attempt to tap into what was so magical about that trip from a decade earlier. And as a true Irish golf course plays best when walked, why not walk the entire journey?

He does take a few strategically placed taxi and train rides along the way, and jumps into a car a couple times to get lifts from strangers. But, for the most part, he sticks to his Keene’s and does his best to avoid distracted drivers, mis-marked short cuts, flocks of sheep that block the road, military firing ranges, and aggressive – possibly diseased – dogs who approach him.

Another difference in the books is that where Hawks was a comedian, Coyne is an English professor. Hawks’ observations were a little rougher. Coyne’s writing is beautiful and moving, whether he’s describing a course that clings to the cliffs on the edge of the Atlantic or relating an evening in a pub where, one-by-one, folks drift in to join a session of traditional Irish music and song. Thankfully the book as just as much of the later as the former. No matter how well you write, there are only so many ways to describe a golf course in prose, especially when you have to describe 36 different courses.

Both books relate the magic of Irish society, how strangers are always welcome with open arms and a fresh pint. Both authors run into people along the way who have been waiting for them to arrive, having followed their travels in the media. In Hawks’ book, that amazed me, that an entire nation would be locked into the same media outlets enough that he would always run into someone who was aware of his journey. Coyne, who went to Notre Dame, points out that Ireland is roughly the size of Indiana, which I did not know and makes it more understandable that a random story like this could bubble into the national consciousness.

So if Ireland and Indiana are about the same size, maybe I could walk around Indiana with either a fridge or golf clubs next summer!

  1. Friends have been wondering this for years.  ↩

Weekend Notes

Finally a (fairly) easy and relaxed weekend.

No cross country for the first time since August. Coincidentally Saturday morning was the day one of C’s cross country coaches hosted his annual fall get-together. He’s a real estate agent – actually the listing agent on our new home – so he invites lots of clients in addition to friends and St. P’s families. So it was a pretty big gathering. The XC parents stood around in the fall chill and commented on how different it was from last Saturday. Granted, the party was in the morning and last week’s meet was in the afternoon, but there was a 40–45 degree difference. Wacky, wild stuff.

I don’t believe I shared that two weeks ago our furniture for our outdoor entertaining area arrived. I also had a handyman come help install a TV mount above the fireplace out there. A week ago I watched some of the night time football games out there in shorts, a t-shirt, and with the ceiling fan running. This Saturday afternoon I sat in jeans, a sweatshirt, and with the fireplace on. And I was still cold. It’s going to be very Midwestern if we get like two weekends to use the outdoor area between the heat and humidity of summer and the snow and freezing temps of winter.

Sunday L had her second basketball game. They again won easily – 26–11 I think and it was never close – although it was a little more work than last week. The fourth quarter was especially rough. Neither team scored until L got a steal and layup with under 10 seconds to play. The other team had a thuggish girl that was literally tackling people on breaks but never getting called for it. By the fourth quarter I think our girls were either afraid of her or just wiped out from all the running and shoving.

L had a better game, scoring 8 and actually converting a few layups. She had some more steals and made a couple decent passes. She got a little too cocky with her dribbling, though. She tried to crossover in front of a girl three times. On the first two, the girl didn’t bite and nearly got her hands on the ball. The third time she ripped it out of there. After the game I told L she can’t cross over when people are right on her. She said next time she’ll try to dribble between the defender’s legs. Good Lord…

While we were at basketball M and S were at Cathedral high school for M’s entrance interview. S was in the room with her during the interview and said M did very well. That girl does love to talk so I doubted she would have any trouble. Later in the day I asked her how it went and she shrugged and said, “OK, I guess.” When I asked what questions they asked her she wrinkled her face and said, “I don’t know, why would I remember that?” Yep, we’re going to spend more a year on high school than my parents spent on my first year of college and she can’t remember a few questions she was asked three hours earlier.

Friday Playlist

“Full Disclosure” – Line & Circle. Fall has finally arrived. We were pushing 90 earlier this week – with the heat indices well above 90 – but suddenly this morning it was below 40 and people were scrambling to turn on their furnaces. The next week promises only one day above 60. Mother Nature is a bitch… Perfectly timed is this song, which may hew a little too close to early R.E.M., but still fits the mood of the season, when the days get shorter and thoughts get a little more wistful. 

“The Flowers Beneath Your Feet” – Laura Carbone & The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Keeping it in the fall vibe is this dreamy, shoe-gazey gem. Carbone opened for TPOBPAH on their most recent tour, and they sat down to write and record this song together after. You would think they had been recording together for years based on this track.

“Spit” – IAN SWEET. IAN SWEET is a band, not a man, thus, I guess, the all CAPS offering of their name. I don’t listen to 90s music nearly as much as I do 80s music these days. But when I hear a song like this, that recalls the best of the middle part of that decade, I’m all for cranking it up.

“Panic Attack” – Liza Anne. Steven Hyden put Anne’s album, Fine But Dying, on his list of near-great albums you may have missed over the summer. He was right, it is a really good piece of work. However, I’ve struggled with what to share from it because it is filled with a bunch of B+ songs, but there is no great, centerpiece song that stands out. I finally picked this, one of my favorites, but like so many others comes up just short of being something I throw into my Best of ’18 working list.

“Eyes to the Wind” – The War on Drugs. Yeah, I know I’ve shared this one before. But it fits the moment and YouTube keeps wanting me to watch it again.

It fits the moment because, back in 2014 when the song was new, I was making a quick grocery store run right around dusk on the last night of summer when this song came on. The air was warm and heavy, but the earlier sunset was a reminder that winter wasn’t that far away. I also believe that was the first time I noticed the song had some strong elements of Bob Seger’s music in it. I found some irony and pleasure that I was driving a large Chevrolet automobile listening to something that recalled Seger. Forty years earlier on the last night of summer, there were probably plenty of dudes driving around in Chevys listening to Seger with the windows down. When the weather changes, I always think of this song.

As for the YouTube thing, I guess I’ve watched this video a lot because no matter what I’m watching on YT, this will always be sitting over in the right column as a suggestion of what to watch next. Doesn’t matter if I’m watching another music video, a sports highlight, or something completely different, there it is. So a few times a year I click on it and I’m sure that keeps it over there. 

There’s so much to like here, but by far the highlight is the ridiculous guitar solo that begins at the 3:55 mark. Adam Granduciel has a whole closet-full of epic solos, but, man, this one gives me every single feel. He plays so hard he knocks his headphones off, which is kind of fresh. 

Usually after watching I check out their Austin City Limits performance of the song. The audio isn’t as good, but it has the added bonus of adding an outrageous sax solo that kicks in at the 4:30 mark. 

« Older posts

© 2024 D's Notebook

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑