Month: August 2019 (Page 1 of 2)

An Old Faithful

What is the oldest piece of clothing you own? Before you throw out a Christening dress, First Communion dress, or some other thing from your childhood that you’ve saved to pass down to a future generation, allow me to narrow it down a little more. What is the oldest piece of clothing you own that you can still wear?

For me that’s easy. I still own two items that I bought in my first weeks as a student at the University of Kansas in August, 1989. You know, 30 years ago right now.

One item is not that exciting. I bought a blue, pullover, rain jacket that has a generic “Kansas” stamped on the breast to wear to class or football games on rainy days. Although it was only ever used occasionally, I, or someone in my house, continues to use it a few times a year. It is still in our coat closet, ready and waiting to fulfill its mission on a rainy soccer day or camp week.

The other item, though, has somehow managed to survive 30 years despite being a bit of an oddball purchase, initially being grossly mis-sized, and having had multiple different uses.

My very first purchase at the KU Bookstore during Hawk Week 1989 was an extra large, red, t-shirt with Kansas written across the chest in a gentle arc in blue letters with white trim. Your generic 1980s college t-shirt that you saw on every campus.1 (Here is where I would post a picture of it if my old web host would allow me to add images. No, I have not completed the move to my new host yet because I totally jacked it up and am trying to figure out how to fix it without getting on the phone with someone from India.)

It was an oddball purchase because I went with red rather than the more traditional KU blue, or even white or gray. I guess I figured red would set me apart from the crowd a little. I was also a fan of schools that had third colors back before that became a thing everyone did, and always wished that KU would bust out red uniforms for basketball on occasion.

Buying an extra large was probably ambitious. I believe I went to college weighing about 165-170, and while I was tall and had broad shoulders, I certainly didn’t have the girth to fill it out. Especially since shirts weren’t tailored for an “athletic fit” in the ‘80s. But I did wear XL in some shirts back then so I grabbed this off the rack. However, when I got it back to my dorm, cut the tags off, and then tried it on, I realized that it was likely more of a double-XL than and XL. It fit me like a muumuu, dwarfing my skinny frame. It really looked ridiculous. I distinctly remember wearing it onto campus one day the first week of classes and thinking that I looked like a total idiot and 30,000 other Jayhawks were making fun of me. I’m sure that I washed it in hot water to shrink it to no avail. So phase one of the shirt’s life was spent shoved in the back of a drawer, brought out only when there were no other clean t-shirts.

Phase two kicked off the next May, when I went home for the summer. Despite my pipe-cleaner arms, I decided to cut the sleeves off and use it as a basketball playing shirt. Although the length of the entire shirt was a little long and the chest too broad, it was really the sleeves that were the problem. They stretched past my elbows and billowed about my meager bi- and triceps. While showing those guns off to the world was a whole other problem, I decided that was the lesser of two evils. That shirt got me through many, many years of outdoor hoops. The extra fabric meant there was always somewhere dry to wipe the sweat from my eyes. And when everything got baggy a few years later, I fit right in!2

Phase two lasted over a decade, until my pickup ball career ended. The shirt again went into the drawer. It had shrunk some over all those washings and I had added some weight, so it actually fit well. The color had begun to fade, too. Really, I should have tossed it in the trash sometime around the turn of the millennium. But I kept it for sentimental reasons. That was the first shirt I bought as a college student, after all!

Phase three began when S and I got married and moved to Indianapolis. Suddenly I had a yard to mow on a regular basis. What better shirt to wear than my trusty, red, KU shirt? I could get some sun on my upper arms while also displaying my school loyalty to all my new neighbors. Even better, since the shirt was an afterthought at this point, if I got stains from grass, dirt, gas, blood, or oil on it, it was no big deal. I didn’t wear it every time I mowed the grass, but I did wear it at least once a month.

Over the last 16 years it has aged quite a bit.3 There are a couple holes in it. The color has faded even more. But you know what? It still fits halfway decent. If I was playing any pickup hoops, I would proudly wear it.

A year ago when we moved and I was purging old possessions, I gave some thought to throwing away my trusty red KU shirt. I only have to do sporadic yard work these days since we hired out the mowing. There’s no pickup ball in my life. While I often go sleeveless at the pool, I prefer a shirt that is a synthetic blend rather than 100% cotton. I think I was close to tossing it until I realized if I kept it one more year, I would have owned it for 30 years.

So it remained and remains. Although we’ve now passed its 30th anniversary, I have no plans to toss the shirt. I may not ever wear it again, but it’s not hurting anyone. So it will stay in the bottom of my dresser drawer. Another 30 years might be asking a lot, but I’m hoping to keep it there a good, long time.

1. The first of approximately 749 KU shirts I’ve purchased since.

2. Someday I’ll have to share the story of how I, not the Fab 5 and not Michael Jordan, kicked off the baggy shorts trend.

3. Haven’t we all?

More Firsts

A couple other firsts I need to share.

Friday was M’s first high school football game as a student. I think the night may have set an unreasonable expectation for the next four years.

CHS played Noblesville, a large, suburban school that generally isn’t very good at football. It was an utterly perfect night, in the low-70s at kickoff with a steady breeze, into the mid-60s by the time we left. More like late September than August.

CHS scored easily on their first drive, got a stop, threw an INT, got another stop, ripped off 20-straight points before letting Noblesville score, then got another quick score right before halftime. They looked awfully good on offense – their running back had two absolutely ridiculous TD runs, one that was for 77 yards and the entire defense, and they had an 80 yard catch and run for a score – plus they were dominant on defense, constantly forcing NHS into third and longs.

I say this game might have set an unreasonable expectation for M for a few reasons.

First, NHS was, by far, the weakest team CHS will play this year. CHS traditionally plays a brutal schedule and there is a chance they won’t win another game until deep into September. Also, while CHS is one of the most storied programs in Indiana, they’re in the midst of a rough patch. They were forced up two classes because of the “success factor” instituted a few years back. They are naturally a 4A school but moved to 5A, then 6A, then back to 5A because of their tournament success (and then lack of success). They were supposed to move back to 4A this year but the state athletic association decided to adjust the success factor in July and suddenly CHS is still in 5A.

Most of all, though, is their talent level is down. They cranked out Power 5 recruits for years and won seven state titles in nine years thanks to that. They just don’t have those kids right now. They have a lot of mid-major and FCS level kids, but none of this year’s skill position kids are going to Ohio State, USC, Notre Dame, or other schools where their best players have gone over the last decade.

But the important thing was that M enjoyed the night. We were sitting where we could kind of see her and she always seemed to be having fun. She spent time with friends from St. P’s, new friends from cross country and her classes, and then a few times we saw her standing with and talking to girls she didn’t know before the game. She has had absolutely zero problems adjusting socially, just as I expected.

C was the only family member who didn’t make the trek to the game. Instead, she joined a bunch of her classmates at the Bishop Chatard game. I was proud of her for wearing her Cathedral shirt. I like a kid that can subtly stir the pot!

The other first? We already had our first sick day of the year. All three girls have been battling colds but L had to stay home yesterday. I believe this might be the earliest sick day in family history. She nearly threw up when she tried to take some medicine before school so we figured that was a good enough reason to keep her home. She spent the day adding to her Minecraft world and seemed to be doing better, but she couldn’t fall to sleep last night because she was coughing so much. She ended up sleeping upright in a chair, which seems kind of awful. But she made it to school this morning and I haven’t gotten any calls from the nurse so she must be hanging in there.

Andrew

I have lived in Indianapolis for 16 years. Saturday night was the third biggest sports night in the city over that span.

1: Colts beat Patriots to win the AFC title in 2007

2: Colts beat the Bears to win the Super Bowl

3: Andrew Luck announces his retirement

This may seem like weird ordering to outsiders, but the vibe in this city after that AFC title game win was way beyond the mood two weeks later. A lot of that had to do wth the games. The title game was an epic, cathartic, unforgettable game punctuated by a string of monumental plays in the fourth quarter, and a radio call that will live forever in Indy, “Intercepted! Marlin Jackson! Marlin’s got it! We’re going to the Super Bowl!” The Super Bowl was sloppy, played in the rain, filled with mistakes, and the only memorable thing about it was Prince’s halftime performance. It was a letdown after the instant classic conference title game.

But Saturday night, when Andrew Luck dropped an absolute bomb on the Colts, on the NFL, and on the city, that was something else. Totally unexpected. Craziest timing possible. Beating the Patriots seemed like an improbable task, but it was still within the realm of possibility. This, though? Uh-uh, no way, not a single Colts fan had this anywhere in the back of their minds.

When I first saw the news I figured it was a joke from a fake account that mimicked some NFL “insider.” Then I flipped over to ESPN and saw the ticker and been taken over by new of Luck’s pending announcement. It was a surreal moment.

The football implications are obvious: this totally derails the Colts rebuild, which had gone almost flawlessly since Chris Ballard and Frank Reich took over. They had nailed their first draft and free agent class. Their second efforts in both areas got positive reviews. And Andrew Luck seemed to be totally back in 2018. They were poised to be one of the best teams in football for the next few years, battling the Patriots and Chiefs for AFC supremacy.

Now that’s all gone. They might still be a nice team with all those other parts. Jacoby Brissett, who did a serviceable job behind the worst offensive line in football in 2017, might be good enough to keep the Colts in the playoff mix behind a much improved line, with better running backs, and a stronger receiving corps. Sure, teams have won Super Bowls with pedestrian QBs. But those teams always had epic defenses to carry them. The Colts defense is not epic. You need an elite quarterback to elevate a team. With Luck gone, the Colts look like a team that’s best hope is to go into December with a chance to get a Wild Card spot rather than playing for a division title or home field.

The predicatable negative responses have been disappointing. The boos Luck received as he walked off the field after Saturday’s preseason game were embarrassing. The national talking heads who have called him a whiny millennial for wilting in the face of another rehab hard are embarrassments as well.

None of us know what Luck is going through. We have no idea how much pain he’s been in over the past five years. We have no idea how difficult his shoulder rehab really was. We have no idea what is going on with his leg right now. We have no idea what it is like to wake up in the morning in pain that refuses to cease, and under mental strain that just gets heavier each day. You can throw out stories about Ronnie Lott chopping part of a finger off to keep playing, Emmett Smith playing with a separated shoulder, etc and claim that Luck doesn’t measure up to them. But do any of us know that for sure? The guy played with a lacerated kidney, I think his toughness has been proven. Just because he is a huge human being doesn’t mean that his body can’t give out. Or even his mind can tell him that enough is enough.

As a Colts fan, I’m disappointed. He looked so good last year, both showing his physical ability was back and making changes in his game to protect himself. There was no reason not to believe he was just entering the prime of his career and would keep the Colts in contention as long as his body held up.

There’s also a part of me that hopes he takes a year off to heal away from the pressures of football, enjoys his first months as a father, and decides next summer he wants to give the game another shot. I have to think that’s a huge reason behind the Colts not attempting to reclaim over $24 million that they could try to take back from Luck.

But I totally respect his decision. He’s always been a little different than your typical NFL player. It’s not that your average player doesn’t think of the implications of the physical toll the game takes on them after they retire. I just think they are able to push those concerns aside and focus on the moment in front of them. Luck, though, made comments over the years that he was already thinking of how the injuries of today would affect the life he wanted to lead tomorrow.

I don’t know that he will ever share everything that has been going on with him. I kind of hope that he doesn’t. I hope he can fade into semi-abscurity living the life he wants to live, healthy and at peace, and we never know much about it beyond the occasional “Whatever happened to Andrew Luck?” piece.

Fall Kid Sports

Fall sports have begun. Right now we are actively involved in five sports, with another to begin tomorrow. Joyous times.


The fall kickball season started last Monday. We have nine teams at St. P’s this year, and got off to a great 7-2 start on opening day. The two teams to lose? My girls’ teams.

C’s team, which I’m helping to coach, gave up four runs in the 7th to lose by one. They did not play all that well and I was honestly shocked that we had the lead going into the 7th. C absolutely blasted the first pitch of the season, maybe her most powerful kick ever, but had bad luck when it went to dead center and hit a telephone pole that is an automatic ground-rule double. A foot toward left field and she has an easy home run. As tends to happen, that got in her head and she didn’t play well the rest of the game. I told her before the game I just wanted her to play and have fun this year. I wasn’t going to get on her when she made mistakes. I took that pledge back when we got in the car after the game, though, when I had to ask her why she failed to field a couple balls that are normally easy plays for her. Teenage girls are a challenge, and she’s going to be our most challenging in terms of moods and how we push her to work through them without pushing too hard and making them worse.

L’s team was playing at the same time, against the team that beat them in the City championship game last spring. This game wasn’t much better, with our girls losing by 16. I talked to her coach afterward and she insisted it was one bad inning that killed us and we were fully capable of beating them if we played them again in a division championship game.

That opportunity went out the window Thursday when L’s team lost their second game, this time by just two runs. I was at this game and I have to say, I have no idea what has happened to L’s team. Last season they had four girls who could be relied on the blast the ball every time they kicked, then 2-3 others who might give you a big kick. They all, including L, kicked like crap Thursday. Worse, they kept kicking it directly to the pitcher who made play-after-play. This girl was the best player on the basketball team that gave L’s team their only two losses last fall, which made it worse. She’s a really good kid, but come on, girls, show some pride and beat her in something! Or at least make her work for it! L made an egregious mistake on the base paths that really cost us, too. That was more frustrating to me than the loss.


Cross country began on Saturday, which was an absolutely perfect day here in Indy. Sunny, cool in the morning, only in the 70s by late morning. Just a delightful day.

I went with M to her first ever race. The varsity boys and girls ran a Hokum Karem relay to start the day, then the JV kids ran a two-mile race. My goal for M was to 1) finish and 2) not be last. Success! She finished, even kicking in fairly strong at the end to pass a few girls. She was not last! She was very close to last, though. More importantly, she cut three minutes off her time trial time, which she was very pleased with. Overall it was a good experience. Next week is tougher as she has to run a full 5K. And, if nothing else, cross country has served its purpose for her by giving her a way to meet people, which opens the door to meet other people. She’s already hung out with several girls she’s either met directly through XC, or through a teammate.

C’s race was also a relay, and she was paired with St. P’s best 8th grade runner. This is the traditional first meet of the season and C has always run the flatter, faster leg or the relay. This time they gave her the hilly half. I don’t know if it was the tougher side of the trail, or other issues, but S texted me that C really struggled. She was fighting a bit of a cold and that may have affected her a bit. Or it could have just been whatever was in her head last week. But it took her a long time after the race to recover and she was very upset by her performance.

She had already told us she wasn’t enjoying cross country as much as in the past, but hasn’t really explained why. We think some of it is how much she enjoyed track, and how she’d rather run for 20 or 30 seconds than 13 or 14 minutes. I’ve been trying to motivate her by telling her that her times from last year are better than a lot of the high school runners’ times. But I also realize that as girls bodies begin to change, often their athletic abilities change. I was in a conversation a week ago with a few parents, discussing what sports we thought our kids might stick with in high school. One mom said, “Once girls get boobs and an ass, everything changes.” C’s body hasn’t changed that much from where it was a year ago, but it is changing, and maybe this is all just part of that process. I hope she can find a way to make the rest of the season fun again regardless of her times.


As I may have mentioned, CYO girls basketball has been moved earlier in the calendar because of dumbness. Teams were announced last weekend and L made the 5th-6h grade A team. We had a long talk before tryouts about the pros and cons of A team vs B team. She was excited to have a chance to play on the A team, but understood there’s a sixth grade point guard who made the A team last year that she would back up. And there would be fewer of her friends on the A team. While on the B team she would start, likely be the best player, play a ton of minutes, and be with more friends. She told me she was good either way.

And then she went out and rocked her tryout. I heard from the mom of a sixth grader that her daughter told her after, “L was the best player there today.” I don’t know if that’s true, but apparently she played really well and earned her spot. Two of her classmates also made the A team. I was a little surprised because one of those is also a point guard and I thought they might pick either L or her to keep on a B team. But that girl can also be turned into more of a wing so it may not be an issue.

They’ve had two practices so far and L is enjoying it. I think the coach, a mom I’ve coached with before, is really enjoying having to plan around two kickball schedules, a swimmer, several cross country runners, and a couple soccer players when she tries to get practices on the calendar. Glad it’s not me!


Oh, and L starts soccer practice tomorrow. This will be her final year in a rec league. We’ve heard that registrations were way down this year, so we don’t know if she’s going to play the same two teams over-and-over, or if her league will partner with another to find games. Once again she’s on a team that is a random mix of girls, which can be trouble at this age because they end up playing teams that stick together from season-to-season.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 30

Chart Week: August 21, 1982
Song: “Love Is In Control (Finger on the Trigger)” – Donna Summer
Chart Position: #12, 9th week on the chart. Peaked at #10 the week of September 25.

My goodness this was a great week! As I was listening to parts of this countdown, song-after-song jumped out at me. I would settle on a song to write about and, five minutes later, here came another one that sparked more memories and made me want to write about it.

I settled on this song partially because I bet very few of you remember it. It came as The Queen of Disco’s career was winding down and most of her hits were minor, although she still had two top 10’s in her future.1 I remember it when I hear it, but it would take me awhile to come up with it off the top of my head.

What made me write about it, though, was the Casey Kasem trivia about the song’s co-writer, Rod Temperton. Temperton had an amazing song-writing career. He has at least partial credit for 11 Top 10 hits, including two #1’s. He wrote numerous other hits. Most of his hits were for black artists, which, as Casey told his listeners in 1982, was rather strange. Because Temperton didn’t know a black person until he was well into his teens.

Tempterton grew up in the very small, very white town of Cleethorpes on the north east of England. There just weren’t any black folks there. Temperton didn’t meet a black person until he moved to London and began performing music with black artists.

Eventually he auditioned for, and earned a place in, the multiracial band Heatwave, writing their biggest hits: “Boogie Nights,” “The Groove Line,” and the timeless R&B classic “Always & Forever.” He caught Quincy Jones’ attention and was brought in to help write Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall album. Temperton penned both “Rock With You,” which hit #1, and “Off the Wall,” which peaked at #10.

Temperton also wrote a song we’ve talked about before, The Brothers Johnson’s #7 hit “Stomp.” Also in his credits are George Benson’s #4 “Give Me the Night,” and Patti Austin and James Ingram’s #1 smash “Baby, Come to Me.”

He wrote “Thriller,” “Yah Mo B There,” and “Sweet Freedom.” He even earned a credit on LL Cool J’s #3 “Hey Lover,” thanks to its sample from “Thriller.”

Write any two of those songs and that’s a hell of a career. But Temperton wrote them all, along with countless other minor hits and album tracks. Dude was a hall of fame 1980s soul writer.

Not bad for a limey from a sleepy, coastal town where there was no influence from black culture.

My first choice was a song that became one of my all time favorites once I rediscovered it nearly 20 years later, the brilliant Marshall Crenshaw’s “Someday, Someway.” Here’s a bonus video for you.

Oh, and here’s a short list of other songs I considered writing about. I talk about 1984 a lot, but the late summer of 1982 could keep me busy for awhile.

“Somebody’s Baby,” Jackson Browne, #34
“Hot in the City,” – Billy Idol, #31
“Only Time Will Tell,” Asia, #29
“Don’t You Want Me,” The Human League, #26
“Kids in America,” – Kim Wilde, #25
“And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” Jennifer Holliday, #24
“Tainted Love,” Soft Cell, #23
“Jack & Diane,” – John Cougar, #16
“Only the Lonely,” The Motels, #13
“Vacation,” The Go-Go’s, #8

1. “She Works Hard for the Money,” #3 in 1983; “This Time I Know It’s For Real,” #7 in 1988.

Changing Neighborhoods

A busy start to the week, but hopefully things will begin to slow down during the day and I can transition some of the thoughts in my head to the screen.

Speaking of this site, I’m about to undertake some fairly major, behind-the-scenes changes.

I’ve been having issues for months with my hosting service. There were lots of little issues, some you may have noticed, others you may have not. Those were bugging me a little but I figured they weren’t really worth fixing.

Then I ran some normal updates in early July and totally wrecked something in the process. If you were checking in on the afternoon of July 3, you may have gotten an error message saying the site was not available. That’s because I was making small problems worse and frantically skimming through about 20 different Safari tabs trying to find the fix. As tends to happen in tech, the repair ended up being making a change in a file that flipped an option from “Yes” to “No.” It took me roughly three hours to find this fix and then the appropriate file. That got the site back up and running but the underlying issues remained. It seemed like a good time to move to a different host, save some money in the process, and start over.

My contract with my current host is up in a couple weeks so I just opened one with a new service. Now comes the delightful task of trying to take everything that is at the old host to the new host without blowing the entire site up in the process. I used to be good at this, when I did it like every six months. But it’s been something like four years since I’ve made any changes, and now I barely know how to do the most basic web hosting tasks. I spent much of this morning reading various tutorials as some painters wrapped up some warranty work around the house.

I have a few more hoops to jump through, and a few more tutorials to read, before I go all-in with the move. So this post, if you’ve made it this far, is just a warning that I’m liable to do something wrong and the site may disappear for awhile. Never fear, I’ll get it back eventually, even if I have to rebuild it post-by-post. Our shared history here is important!

Oh, and you don’t have to worry about any new site address. It will still be dsnotebook.me. I just have to make everything works when you get there.

As always, thanks for reading.

Friday Playlist

“Just for Once” – The Building.
This song fits right in with the music I’ve been digging the most in recent years. Especially that guitar solo in the middle, which sounds like a combination of Wilco and The War on Drugs. I had no idea until about three minutes ago that the main creative force in this band is Anthony LaMarca, who just happens to be in The War on Drugs. Bookmarking their other tracks to check out as soon as I get this posted…

“Motherland” – Julia Jacklin.
This goddamned song. It will pop up randomly every few months and just floors me each time. I know I’ve shared it before, but whenever I hear it I feel obligated to share its brilliance with you again.

“Canter” Gerry Cinnamon.
Speaking of things right up my alley, here’s a Scottish singer who writes “brutally honest” lyrics. Apparently canter translates as “easy peasy” to Scots. I tend to agree with him: things would be easier if people weren’t such wankers.

“Not” – Big Thief.
HOLY SHIT. I MEAN, REALLY. Big Thief released an album earlier this year that was almost universally loved. I say almost because I didn’t love it. I think my dissatisfaction reached them, because they immediately recorded another album, and this is its lead single. Big Thief has never sounded this big, this angry, or this dangerous. I like it a lot. I think Neil Young would approve of the extended solo that closes the track.


“Couldn’t Know” – PAW.
It’s been a minute or two since I’ve shared any classic, Midwestern grunge with you. So here’s the best track of the genre. I did a lot of damage to my ears listening to these guys.

Back at It

Whew! It has been a very busy couple of days.

Wednesday was the first day at St. P’s, C starting 7th grade and L starting 5th. Which meant it was also our first day dropping off at two schools. The morning went about as good as possible. C was already awake when I got up, everyone was ready to get out the door at 7:00, and we encountered no slowdowns on the way to CHS. It’s about 20 minutes to CHS, then 10 or so back to St. P’s.

What did I do on my first day alone in a couple months? Well, I spent the entire day working on kickball things. Schedules came out the night before so I was plugging them into both our scheduling calendar at school and our personal calendar. I was making final adjustments to a couple teams. I was answering questions from coaches. I was sorting uniforms and getting them ready for distribution. I dealt with a couple minor issues with players and parents. I collected sports physicals so players are eligible. And I also had to scramble as I got a nasty gram from the parish office because of some parking issues at practice. It was a constant cycle of emails, texts, and calls that added two things to my task list for each item I checked off.

Thursday morning was also easy. C was not only awake when I got up, but she was dressed, had eaten, and was turning on the Xbox. We’ll see how long this new morning routine lasts with her. Friday will be the first day I take C and L to school then come back and get M since it is a late-start day at CHS.

Thursday I did take some time to relax a little. Unfortunately I decided to go hit golf balls and it was a disaster. I had been working on the swing changes my coach gave me and they were becoming more comfortable. I wanted to hit some balls Thursday, which would be the first time in a couple weeks, and then hopefully go play one day next week. But, good grief, you would thought I never swung a club before. Normally I can get a rhythm with my irons and hit two decent shots for every one bad one at the range. It’s on the tee that I struggle.

Today I couldn’t hit an iron to save my life. I kept hitting awful shot after awful shot. Once I took a huge divot about five inches behind and three inches inside of the ball. The ball sat there, untouched, taunting me. But I was halfway decent on the tee. Driver was slicing every time, but not always a terrible slice and generally with decent distance. And I was scorching my three wood. I’d say I had a 50-50 split between straight shots and slices, and the straight ones were very long. I’d hit 7-8 shots with the three wood, feel comfortable, and try to take it to my irons. As soon as I swung a lofted club my swing went to shit again. Usually it’s the opposite way. Looks like I need another lesson before I try to play.

My afternoon and evening were a constant battle with traffic. Pick up at St. P’s at 3:20, back home. Leave at 4:30 to get M from practice. Because of traffic what would be a 40 minute trip in the morning takes an hour. Immediately back into the traffic to get C to her practice. Back through same traffic again to go home and eat. And then back to get C. Part of me is bummed that C and L play kickball games at the same time, in different locations, four times this season. Another part of me is happy because that’s a few less drives I have to make since I’ll get one girl or the other a ride to her game.

What I’m Watching: July/Early August

As usual, I’m late in starting what I want to be a new, regular feature of the blog. I already let you know what I’m reading and listening to. Stealing from Jason Kottke, I want to start sharing the other media that I consume each month.

This was meant to be shared at the beginning of August, but I wanted to finish one thing on the list before I posted.


American Experience: Chasing the Moon, The Farthest Home, Death Dive to Saturn. L and I have been on a space exploration kick all summer and these shows were the latest in our research on the topic. The Chasing the Moon shows were really good and they reinforced the sheer incredibility of the effort to reach the moon. Even 50 years later it is absolutely stunning that it worked. For all the amazing things that we have done with technology since then, we would have trouble putting a man on the moon tomorrow if we had to. I was more into the other two docs, the first about the Voyager missions and the second about the Cassini mission, than L was. In fact she generally either fell asleep or left the room during them. But I enjoyed them, especially the Voyager show, as I remember learning a lot about those missions in school in the late ‘70s. Again, it’s amazing what we were able to do with relatively primitive technology. More amazing that the two Voyager craft are still operational. A, A-, B-.


Narcos, Season 2. This is a show that has been on my list for awhile. I watched season one in May and then put off getting into season two for awhile, finally finishing it over the weekend. Overall, I thought it was really good. It had some flaws, and it also had some elements that are beginning to feel required in shows like this, i.e. high-brow cable/streaming dramas. But what pulled the show through were a series of fine acting jobs, none better than Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar. Moura was mesmerizing and turned a man who was a brutal killer into a sympathetic character. The final episode recalled the last episode of season one of Stranger Things in how it wonderfully tied up all the loose ends of the first two seasons while taking just a moment at the end to throw out some leads into the next season. A-.


Megamind. Out of nowhere L decided to watch this like three days in a row, saying it was her favorite movie ever. Which surprised me as she had never expressed that opinion before. It’s good, I laughed quite a bit the one time I sat down and watched with her. But I don’t know that it’s the best of the animated movies we’ve watched over the years. Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and David Cross do great vocal work. B+.


Holey Moly. Another show L and I watched together.1 It hit two sweet spots: Steph Curry for L and golf, well miniature golf, for me. It’s dumb, heavily edited to squeeze into 44 minutes, and filled with “contestants” who seem too wacky to not be actors. Plus hosts Joe Tessitore and Rob Riggle generally annoy me on their own. Together they are barely tolerable. But L likes it. C- for me, A- for L.


The Ugly Truth. L did not watch this with me. I think she passed through the room while it was on and we had to chase her out as it hit on some adult content. Rather, this was a movie S picked randomly one evening and I half-watched while reading. I found it lazily written, cruel at times, far too crass at others. But, come on, watching Katherine Heigl made it worth keeping an eye on. Apparently the ladies like Gerard Butler in the same way. D+ on content, A+ on eye candy.


Spider-Man: Far From Home and Spider-Man: Homecoming. I’ve mostly avoided the Marvel superhero movies over the years. C is really into them, though, and L likes Spider-Man, so the three of us went to see the latest, Spider-Man: Far From Home last week. It was really good! Then L and I grabbed Homecoming at the library and watched it over the weekend. Again, pretty good! Now is this because all the movies are good, or just because Spider-Man is the one superhero I ever liked as a kid? All I’ll say is that if L wants to watch some of the other Marvel universe films, I may be ready to join her. Also, I laughed at Michael Keaton playing Vulture. L asked why I was laughing and I explained that he was Bat-Man when I was in college and it amused me that he turned into a Marvel villain. A/A.


  1. Sensing a trend? M and C watch their own shows on their devices in their rooms. 

Friday Vid

Too busy of a week to build up a list of songs to share. So, once again I’ll cop out and share/write about a song that was featured this week on The Number Ones.

”Rhinestone Cowboy” – Glen Campbell
Bet you didn’t expect this! But I have a good story about this song that makes it worth sharing.

I loved this song when it was first out. I remember having a whole routine in which I sang and danced along to it that seemed to delight my grandparents. It was so popular that when large groups gathered for a meal at their home, they demanded that I perform it for all. Or at least that’s how I remember it. What all went into that routine I could not tell you or recreate today. But I did enjoy hearing it back in the summer of 1975 when I was spending time on my grandparents’ farm.

In time the song took on different meanings to me. First a corny joke of all that was wrong with that weird country-pop-rock sound that filled the airwaves in the mid-70s. “Pick a side and go with it, don’t be wishy washy!” Later an ironic, sing along that tickled something deep inside us Gen Xers but wasn’t a song you would put on to enjoy on your own.

And then one day last spring I was alone in the car and heard it on SiriusXM’s 70s on 7 station. For the first time probably ever I really listened to the lyrics and they struck me. I loved the clarity of the protagonist’s visions of fame. It’s one thing to hope for success. It’s another to think about getting fan letters from people you don’t know and offers to perform causing your phone to ring off the hook. And, as Tom Breihan writes, there’s that total confidence that Campbell sings with that carries the song. If you’re ever feeling down on yourself, put this song on, crank it up, and you’ll be ready to take on anything three minutes later.

Oh, and how about this video! I love every single thing about it. Glen walking down the street in a typical, cheesy 1970s video look. Wearing two watches no less! Then for the chorus the switch to him in an all-white outfit on a horse, waving to an imaginary audience. So. Freaking. Good. I really don’t understand how “Sledgehammer” and “Thriller” are considered the best videos ever when this beat them to the punch a decade earlier.

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