Month: October 2019 (Page 1 of 2)

Reader’s Notebook, 10/30/19

As is my norm, I am behind on sharing my books with you. So here we go…

Normal People – Sally Rooney
I hate when a book lets you down. I was really enjoying this book as I worked my way through it. And then the final quarter or so ruined most of that good will.

Normal People is centered on two Irish teens from opposite sides of the track. Connell is the popular, good looking, athlete. Marianne is the strange acting, odd looking, social outcast. But Marianne is from a wealthy family while Connell is the son of a single mother, still a big problem in new millennium Ireland. Worse, his mother cleans houses, including Marianne’s. Connell and Marianne often make awkward small talk when he picks his mother up at the end of her shift in Marianne’s home. One day talk turns to something more and soon they are in the midst of a rather torrid, but secret, relationship.

Rooney lets the relationship play out over the coming months. As it becomes more intense it reaches a point where Connell has to choose whether to make it public or keep it private. He chooses privacy by inviting another girl to a big dance, which effectively ends the relationship just before they go off to college.

In college the couple drifts together and apart several times. It turns out that Marianne and Connell are the only people each of them trusts enough to be their true selves around. While they love each other intensely, they also have difficulty with the dealing with the strength of their love as well as communicating clearly with each other.

As I said, for most of the book, I was fine with these ebbs and flows. Rooney tackles a lot of interesting elements that go into any relationship, especially one between two young people.

But where she lost me was when Connell and Marianne both slid into self destruction and (possibly) mental illness. There’s no getting around it: the end of the book is a big bummer. Which is fine; I don’t need a happy ending to make me think a book is good. But, man, this one was such a bummer it ruined what was otherwise a fine book for me.

Slaying the Tiger – Shane Ryan
It takes some balls to patrol the area where John Feinstein normally holds station. But when you are another cocky Duke grad, I guess you can pull it off.

Ryan spent the 2014 PGA tour chasing what he saw as an emerging generation that was ready to take over for Tiger Woods. He focuses on Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Jordan Spieth, and Rickie Fowler along with a few others.

For the most part, he nailed it. Those guys have indeed dominated golf since the end of Tiger’s glory days. His only miss is Brooks Koepka, who he only mentions in passing. But this was before Koepka had won a tournament and staked his claim to being perhaps the best of this group.

Ryan tells a good story. He finds interesting angles, takes bold stances, and pissed several people off with this book. I don’t know that his work was all that much different than what Feinstein would have done on the same assignment, but it was nice to read a different crack at a familiar format.

The Incendiaries – R.O. Kwon
I had a hard time with this book, and I think it was purely because of the structure.

Kwon begins with a group of young people meeting on the top of a building and watching the bombs they planted destroy other buildings. From there she goes back in time, laying out how several characters got to that point. To do so, she bounces between them, switching perspective as she jumps through them. That and her refusal to use quotation marks made this very difficult for me to read for some reason.

It’s a wild story at it’s core: a romance that dissolves when the woman is drawn into a campus religious group led by a charismatic man who claims to have spent time in a North Korean prison camp. As he pushes the group to take action to end abortion in the US, he drives away this woman’s boyfriend who fled a deeply religious past in California when he chose a school on the east coast.

But there are so many structural issues that I couldn’t get past that I never really enjoyed the story. It bored me more than intrigued me.

Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
I blew through this book in about 24 hours. Some of that had to do with the format: the book is presented as an oral history, and those always read fast. But more of it had to do with the subject and the quality of the story.

The book presents the lives of Daisy Jones & The Six, two fictional 1970s artists who came together to record one of the biggest fictional albums of the decade. She traces the rise of The Six, a Pittsburgh area band fronted by singer Billy Dunne, who presents as the classic rock ’n’ roll lead singer, and Daisy Jones, an It girl who has the world in the palm of her hand and just happens to make great music herself. Jenkins Reid takes us through the early successes and struggles of both sides until a one-off single together turns into a Rolling Stone story turns into a partnership on an entire album and massive tour.

All the usual VH1 Behind the Music elements are here. The drugging and boozing and rehabbing, the sex, the intra-band conflicts, the struggles with balancing fame and family, the insecurities that come with being incredibly successful, and the challenges of being a strong woman in a world that wasn’t quite ready for them yet.

It is impossible to read this book and not think of Fleetwood Mac. There are also elements of The Eagles and the final days of the Beatles in here.

Reid combines it all into a delightful read. None of it is necessarily high literature. But it is awfully entertaining, especially the final third or so when the band falls apart and a particular relationship comes to a very interesting point.

Belated Weekend Notes

OK, finally some weekend notes.

Youth Basketball

L’s team finally got their second win of the year, a nervy 18–15 win. They were down 14–10 in the fourth quarter, which seemed like a monumental gap. We got back-to-back steals and scores to tie, then cranked up the defense, got a couple more scores, and held on for the win.

It was everything a 5th–6th grade basketball game should be: maddening, hilarious, outrageous, and ridiculous. The girls try hard but, bless their hearts, it’s pretty rough rowing some days.

L was held scoreless for the first time this year. That was largely because she missed most of the second half. She got body-checked and went down pretty hard just before halftime. I was worried at first she had hit her head. A week after the possible concussion in soccer that would not be good. Turned out it was more of a hip bone directly into the hardwood thing. She eventually loosened up enough to come in for part of the fourth quarter. She missed a couple shots and two free throws, so she had her chances.

Kansas Freaking Football

How about them apples! Sure, it was Texas Tech, who isn’t all that great this year. And, sure, it came partially to a massive gaffe by Tech that gave KU the chance to attempt a second game winning field goal when the game should have gone to overtime. Still, a week after missing kicks, not making stops late, and having the clock operator help their opponent, KU did everything they had to do to win in the fourth quarter.

Man, the offense looked good at times. Brent Dearmon really might be a genius. Which means he’ll be in Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge or South Bend or some other legit college football town sooner rather than later. I say back the truck up and pay that fool to stay.

We’ll see if they can keep it together again this week again Kansas State.

World Series

What a weird damn series. Last Thursday everyone had the Astros dead and buried. Today it is the Nationals who look cooked. With Strasburg going for the Nats tonight I fully expect a game seven tomorrow. Then the big question is can Max Scherzer be right enough to go?


A thoroughly uninspiring win against the Broncos, helped greatly by some rather fearful coaching decisions on the Broncos’ sideline. I had a bad feeling about the game for some reason, so I spent most of the first half doing yard work and running errands. It warmed up enough by halftime to watch outside, which was pretty glorious. Still not sure how good the Colts actually are. But they’re in first place and I’m another win closer to having to buy some beer for my buddy who believed they were a 10-win team in August.


I watched bits of the Zozo Championship as my sleep schedule allowed. With Gary Woodland and Tiger Woods leading the event all weekend, I had plenty of reason to watch. I just wasn’t crazy about watching a rather meaningless golf tournament after midnight.

And the whole “Chase for 82” thing is silly. A) It only includes PGA tour wins, so Tiger’s true career win total is not reflected in it. B) As has been established many times, Sam Sneed’s 82 tour wins is a farcical number. C) Even if we decide that matters, isn’t win #83 the important one? Why is the PGA celebrating a record being tied? What was celebrated more, Hank Aaron’s 714th or 715th home run?

High School Football

Sectional playoffs started last week. Cathedral had a bye so we stayed in. Unfortunately, wind chills are expected to be in the 20s for their game this week. M hasn’t told me yet whether she wants to go or not. And if she goes, I likely have to go.

Speaking of going…I forgot to share how one of the songs the Cathedral band played as part of their halftime show this year was “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” As a massive fan of the Clash, I approve. But I also chuckled that I’m sure it was selected because of its use in season one of Stranger Things. Apparently that made the song part of Indiana culture!

A Day in the Life

Monday got away from me a little. I had some things on the agenda, but also figured I’d be able to sit down and crank out a weekend summary post or something. Then things got a little weird.

So in the interest of posting something before Monday is over, here is a quick review of my day. I know, I know: I’m breaking ground for new levels of excitement here!

First, it was a late start day at dear old CHS, so we all got to sleep in. Until S forgot about that and went barging into M’s room at 6:45 asking her why she wasn’t up yet. Good times! On late start days I take C and L to school around 7:30, return home around 7:50, and M and I try to be out the door by 8:05. That went according to plan today.

Normally I would then come home, eat breakfast, go to the gym, and then hit the grocery store. Today, however, C had an ortho appointment at 10:40. So I had enough time to eat, shower, shave for the first time in five days, and get dressed before heading back to St. P’s to grab C a little after 10.

Up to ortho where she got some adjustments, new rubber band instructions, and then off to lunch. When the girls go to ortho midday, I always take them to lunch after. We went to Mod Pizza this time and had a nice lunch together before returning her to school at 11:45.

I made a quick grocery store run next. I only got a few things, not my normal big, Monday trip. I’ll save the bigger trip for later in the week.

Home, unpack groceries, check messages, change clothes, and then head to the driving range. Monday looked to be the only decent day this week and with my country club round scheduled for Sunday, I wanted to make sure I hit some balls. As soon as I got started, I got a message from M saying that the power was out at school, the assembly planned for the last hour of the day was cancelled, and school may be let out early.

Well crap.

She said she would update me so I started hitting balls quickly in case I had to go pick her up. The grass area of the range had not been mowed in a week or so, so the lies were pretty gnarly. I moved back and forth between the grass and mats to try to get some good swings in. I wrapped things up without getting a call from M, so headed over to the practice green to get some putting in. As I was walking I got a text from CHS saying that school dismissal would come at the normal 3:10 time. I putted three balls before my phone rang. I expected it to be M but instead it was C calling, in tears, saying her head hurt and could I come pick her up.


So back to St. P’s to grab C and take her home. S was home for the afternoon so once we got C settled we talked for a few minutes about her morning. After 10–15 minutes it was back out for afternoon pickup. L had basketball practice, so it was straight to CHS to get M. Seconds after she got in the car my phone rang with another call from St. P’s. This time it was L telling me she did not have practice.


Her coach and I had even discussed what days they were practicing this week after their game Saturday. I knew it was Wednesday/Friday but for some reason Monday morning decided there was practice that day, too.

Back to St. P’s again to grab an annoyed L and head home for the day. Once home we checked in with all the girls, S and I went over her schedule for the week, we talked through dinner ideas, discussed what girl would be where on Halloween, and debated whether M should buy tickets to the CHS sectional game or if we should skip it since it’s going to be below freezing Friday night.

And that, my friends, is how a day slipped away from me rather quickly.

Oh, one note related to none of that but which happened today. As I was waiting in the pickup line at CHS listening to Alan Hunter on The Big 80s on 8, I heard him mention that they were playing Halloween music up on channel 70. I switched up there to see what they were spinning and what did I hear but Frank Sinatra singing “Mistletoe and Holly.” That’s not Halloween music! I left it on until M got in the car and she gave me a weird look. I explained why I had it on and we waited for the next song and it, too, was a Christmas song. I checked again later to hear more traditional Christmas tunes. I guess the Halloween music is on Halloween day only, and channel 70 is already spinning Christmas tunes.

Those of you who have known me and my weird ways for years know that hearing three Christmas songs, even if just bits of them, on October 28 shook me. Oh by gosh by golly…

Friday Playlist

A couple new songs with a healthy dose of nostalgia this week.

“Our Little World” – County Line Road. Maybe it’s the name of the group, but I was surprised to learn this band is from England and not the US. This track has a big, mid–80s feel to it.

“Walking on a String” – Matt Berninger with Phoebe Bridgers. What better way for Berninger to introduce the world to his first solo album than to release a single that features Phoebe Bridgers? As she seems to do with everything, she takes something that is nice and elevates it to another level. Pretty heady move to sneak this in late in the year to cement her status as the most promising new artist of the decade.

“Just Another Day” – Oingo Boingo. I heard this song for the first time in ages earlier this week. That’s a surprise, given two SiriusXM stations that specialize in ‘80s music are in my presets. This song is great and deserves a lot more respect.

“Leaving Here” – Eddie Holland. Last week Pearl Jam’s cover of this popped up on Spotify. I knew The Who’s version was the reason that Eddie Vedder decided to cover it, but I thought I remembered it being recorded by someone else originally. So I jumped into the Wikipedia machine and learned that it was originally recorded in 1963 by Motown artist Eddie Holland. And it was written by the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland trio that was responsible for some of Motown’s biggest hits. It was also the first single of Motörhead’s career in 1977, which is crazy.

“Mista Dobalina” – Del tha Funkee Homosapien. My brother-in-music E$ sent this to me last Friday just as a fun, Friday share. After watching I read the video’s description and through the comments and learned that this was not an official video, but rather a fan video. And I was thrilled to learn that it was made by a bunch of kids at the J. Everett Light career center, which is attached to North Central High School, right down the block from our house! I wonder how many of these scenes were shot somewhere near our current home. Not sure why my friends and I weren’t making our own videos to early ‘90s hip-hop songs back then, too.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 33

Chart Week: September 17, 1983
Song: “Stand Back” – Stevie Nicks
Chart Position: #35, 16th week on the chart. Peaked at #5 the week of August 20.

First a piece of housekeeping. I noticed this morning that I mis-numbered my last entry, for some reason skipping from 31 to 34. I have updated that post to correctly show it as entry #32 in the Reaching for the Stars collection. I regret the error.

I’ve been sitting on this one for a couple weeks, it being a remnant from my recent readings on Prince.

This is one of those tidbits of music trivia that I’m angry I didn’t know 35 years ago. I did not know until about three or four years ago that Prince inspired this song and then helped Stevie Nicks record it. Which I totally should have known. Last New Year’s Day, while we were taking down Christmas decorations and listening to the Top 100 songs of 1983, Casey mentioned Prince’s role in the creation of the song, so it’s not like this was some obscure fact that got unearthed decades later.

Anyway, the story goes that Stevie and her new husband, Kim Anderson,[1] were driving up the California coast on January 29, 1983, the day they were married. As they drove they heard Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” on the radio. The song stuck in Stevie’s head, especially the layers of synthesizers Prince built the song on. She began humming along to it, her writer’s brain began buzzing, and soon she was singing her thoughts into a tape recorder.

Weeks later when she was recording the song, she called Prince and told him how he had inspired her. Soon he was zipping over to the studio, joined in on the session playing synthesizers, and then disappeared as if nothing had happened. Duane Tudahl’s book suggests that Stevie and Prince hung out on at least one more occasion in 1983, so they were friendly beyond that one somewhat random moment. I kind of love that Prince hung out with and was inspired by so many people from the classic rock world when he was in his prime.[2] He’s seen as this super-funky, far left field artist, especially in his early days. But as much as James Brown inspired him, so too did the more mainstream stuff that dominated FM radio in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

Just another song to add to the immense number of hits that Prince was responsible for, directly or indirectly, in the mid–1980s. This one just happened to be one of Stevie Nick’s four top five solo hits of the decade.

Bonus video for the absolutely massive The Hold Steady track “Stevie Nix.” “Loooord to be 17 forever…”

  1. Assuming this wasn’t the Kim Anderson who played basketball at Missouri and later coached the Tigers.  ↩
  2. The song “Purple Rain” was famously inspired by how he saw fans react to Bob Seger’s live shows.  ↩

Sports Notes

I had a Reaching for the Stars post lined up for today, but one huge sports story has me skipping to throw down some sports thoughts on your heads.

Kansas – Missouri Basketball is Back

Well this was a total surprise. I have a few birdies out there who occasionally drop hints that big news is coming. None of them shared even a whiff of this coming out before last night’s announcement.

My initial reaction was that it was dumb that KU caved and agreed to this. I liked holding this petty grudge against Missouri for their role in breaking up one of the best conference rivalries in college sports. And since we Kansas fans like to think the rivalry means more to MU than to KU, that made it even more fun.

Alas, the teams were going to get together in the regular season eventually. There would be too much money offered at some point not to do it. I will assume that is the case here. I always hoped it would be because of the next round of realignment that found KU and MU in the same conference again.

I think the timing is very interesting. In the seven years since the teams played, KU has been much, much better than Mizzou in basketball. Now, with KU facing probation, a potential loss of scholarships, and a sure hit in recruiting for a year or two, it seems like an odd time to open the series up again. I’m not saying KU is going to turn into TCU in basketball. But there would seem to be a, hopefully momentary, dip in the talent level coming to Lawrence.

I wonder how much the NCAA situation had to do with KU agreeing to this. KU is going to be pouring a lot of money into the legal fight against the NCAA. And then there is the possibility that the NCAA may ban the Jayhawks from the tournament for a year or more. Is this an attempt to find some more revenue when expenses will be up and revenue potentially down in the near future?

It makes sense that football is not included. There’s no reason to play that game. KU can’t compete right now and Missouri gains nothing by giving KU the chance to pull an upset. Plus, both schools are scheduled out for several years. I figure football will get added down the road as spots open up in each school’s calendar.

I think the first year will be great. I wonder about after that. There are plenty of fantastic, non-conference rivalries out there. Missouri has had one with Illinois forever. But what made the KU-MU games of the past so great was because they meant something. The last basketball game, in 2012, featured two top four teams fighting for the conference title and a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Our generation grew up on KU and MU fighting for the Big 8/12 title. And even if one team was out of the title race, there was nothing better than beating your arch rival and knocking them out of the title race.

For us old folks the rivalry will still mean plenty. But for the younger folks, will it ever grow to what it used to be when it’s just another fun, non-conference game in December? Does losing to your rival mean the same thing when you still have two months of conference games coming after? When KU has had big conference wins over Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, etc in previous Novembers/Decembers, those were a lot of fun. But the games against Iowa State, Texas Tech, and Baylor were always more important.

KU Football

I wasn’t going to write about it, but since I’ve opened up the notebook, some effort by the Jayhawks in Austin on Saturday! I have a KU buddy who lives in Austin who told us beforehand he was not going to the game. As KU hung around in the first half, I began texting him to get his butt over so he could watch history take place.

Jokingly, of course.

But, man, they gave it a good run. I had three non-KU friends text me when the Jayhawks converted the two-point conversion to take the lead late in the game to get my thoughts. Each got a variation on the same response: We left plenty of time to blow it.

1:11 was exactly enough time, as it turned out.

Still, a fine effort. With the state of KU football, you totally take moral victories.

And I have to share some love for Carter Stanley, who played his ass off and had the Longhorn Network announcers ripping their own players for getting “trucked” by him. The guys who have stuck with KU football over the past decade have been through some shit. It’s nice to see guys like Stanley have a moment where it works. It’s a shame the previous coaches put the program in a state where these moments are rare and a surprise. It’s also a shame he had to wait until his senior year to finally enjoy some success.


Another nice win for the Colts, another excellent coaching day for Frank Reich. I’m starting to get worried about the bet I made back in September that the Colts were, at best, an 8–8 team. I may have to pay my buddy the Miller Lite he put on the line for saying they would go 10–6.


The Pacers tip off their season tomorrow against Detroit. Most experts have the Pacers making the playoffs since the Eastern Conference is so weak. Seems about right.

But we have no idea what to expect from this team. Victor Oladipo is engaging in light practice, but not anywhere close to returning from the quad injury that ended his 2019 season. And when he comes back, it will likely take him months to get back to where he was. This feels like a season where the Pacers are stuck between competing and dropping into the lottery. Really, it is one where they need to teach the new parts how to play together and then get ready to make a run next year.

The team did make news yesterday when they extended Domantas Sabonis. Word on the street was they were exploring trade options. But, as these things tend to do, a last-minute deal was worked out to keep the power forward on the squad. Now they have to figure out how to get him and Myles Turner to be able to play together. They have too much money wrapped up in them to not have them on the court as much as possible.

The Pacers have some really nice parts, when fully healthy. I wonder if the parts fit together, though. And whether a fully healthy Oladipo is enough to compete in the East.

Fall Sports: The Wind Down

We are one step closer to being done with fall sports. L played her final soccer game of the season on Saturday. They won 3–1 to push their record to 4–1–1, including four-straight wins.

It was kind of a bummer day, though. Early in the second half she was standing near a defender who was trying to clear a ball and took an absolute blast in the back of her head. She went down in a heap and took several moments to gather herself and get up. She sat out the rest of the game because she felt dizzy. In the evening she was still a little dizzy and was showing some light sensitivity. That had all cleared up by Sunday morning but this may go down as her first concussion, even if it was mild.

Her team was strange. I loved her team from last fall, the last time I helped coach her team. Her teammates were sassy and fun to be around, plus they were almost all really talented. We had girls who could play anywhere on the field, didn’t complain, and knew how to play together. I think that team would have roasted this year’s team.

But the U12 league is a lot weaker this year, and despite this year’s team not being as talented, they won more games. I don’t want to make it sound like the team was bad. You don’t luck your way into four wins. They have some talent, but it’s a different and less across-the-board talent than we had last year. The biggest thing is only a couple girls knew how to play together. There was a lot of crowding around the ball rather than staying in the spot they were supposed to be in. There were very few passes to open space. There was very little work to get open when someone else had the ball.

I think that all frustrated L a little. For the first time she wasn’t at the top of the formation all the time. Her coaches put her on the right wing where she could win possession then operate down the line in hopes of crossing to someone. She would put in the work out there and move to make a central pass only to find three teammates chasing her and no one running to the spot she would pass.

Thursday she got asked to play on a U14 team for a night. Although she was a little nervous about playing up – she was worried there would be high school girls on the team – she fit right in. It helped that three of her teammates from last fall were on the team and they all ran over to give her hugs when she showed up. She subbed in about 10 minutes into the game and once she got settled in played really well. She was winning possession, pushing forward, and sending balls across to the forwards. A couple times she made nice runs on her own but since her new teammates weren’t used to her being there no pass was sent to her. At the end of the game she was happy that she had joined them for the night.

For her season, she ended with just four goals, by far the fewest she’s ever had. Three of those goals came on penalty kicks (she was 3–4 on the year from the spot) and the other came when she tapped in a loose ball.

While I think that also frustrated her, I believe this was a good experience for her. If she is going to continue to play, she’s going to have to learn to play in positions other than up top. As she grows, she may move back into that position. But in high school particularly, there are going to be bigger, stronger, faster girls that are the forwards and she will most likely be in midfield.

Her team actually has one more game this Saturday, against the same team they played last week and at the same time her basketball team has a game. We let her choose what to play, and she picked basketball. Which is a little bit of a surprise. But she’s also loving basketball so much that it makes sense.

Her basketball team plays Wednesday after taking the stupid two week break so everyone could avoid playing on fall break. They are 1–2 having crushed a team in their one win and having been crushed in their two losses. I’d like some competitive games, please.

L is having a lot of fun. She’s one of three fifth graders on the team and the only one starting. The sixth graders have kind of adopted her, one in particular. That girl lives a couple blocks away and they have hung out some after school and on weekends. The sixth grader calls L her “fifth grade bestie.” Those new friendships, as much as the hoops, are why she is loving it.

She’s playing ok. She’s the starting point guard, which is a tough spot when you’re playing against older girls. The two teams that beat us were both filled with sixth graders who play year-round. She kind of got abused, struggling to get the ball across half court or make a pass if she did cross the line. But in the win, she was flying up-and-down making plays. She’s scored a bucket each in the losses and had eight points in the win.

With the break over they have four games over the next three weeks before the tournament in mid-November.

Friday Vid

“Hail, Hail” – Pearl Jam
A bit of an odd music week for me the past few days. I’ve hit the point in the calendar when I set asdide new music I dive into my Favorite Song list for a bit to start whittling it down to a manageable number before the final push to rank them for the year. Ah, but this year ends in a nine, so there’s also a Decade list to work on. Thus, this week I’ve been listening to my Favorites of 2019 and Favorites of the ’10’s list a lot.

Without much new music to share, I thought I’d post something that jumped out at me as I scrolled through my Liked songs on Spotify. Fall is Pearl Jam season for me. Their first four albums were either released in late summer or fall, or I was still listening to them a lot in the fall (Ten).

Here’s a PJ song that I do not believe gets enough credit. It’s a hell of a song, right up their with their best. As an added bonus it was clearly a big deal to Dave that they played it on his show. In fact, Paul and The World’s Most Dangerous band played “Hail, Hail” going into commercial breaks until the Late Show went off the air.


As we get deeper into October, the opportunities to play golf in the midwest are rapidly shrinking. I have played twice in the past couple weeks, both rounds worthy of brief breakdowns.

First, as the title suggests, I have now carded a lifetime best of 92. In fact, I shot 92 in each of my last two rounds. Which, given where I started and what my goals are, is pretty great, right? As with any round of golf, there were enough shots left out there that I lamented not going lower as much as what I actually accomplished.

The first round was a solid round. I shot 46 on the front, 46 on the back. I had a birdie on each nine. On the 8th hole I hit a 30-foot birdie putt. On the 13th, a 503-yard par 5, I hit my second shot within three feet of the green and then left my chip a foot short. I banged in the birdie putt with a pretty rapid heart rate after nearly getting my first ever eagle.

I was consistent on both nine. My tee game was kind of crappy but everything else was working. I was hitting irons well, even on par threes. My short game and putting game were generally quite good. Four one putts and three three-putts.

The big bummer was that I was in a fight with the trees all day. I recovered well but it seemed like I was either hitting a tree or having to work around one on at least 12 holes.

On the sixth hole that nearly ruined my round. I hit my tee shot well right and had no clear shot through a line of trees to get back to the fairway. I tried to hit a low liner beneath the trees that would roll up the fairway, but got too much loft under the ball and hit a branch and drop about 30 yards away. I walked up and had a look at the green, about 175 away,[1] but it was guarded by a tree on the right. Aim left and I bring sand in to play. So I tried to hit an easy seven iron that would either drop before it hit the tree or be short of the sand if I went left. Naturally I smoked it and hit that tree that guarded the green. I saw my ball smack a branch and drop straight down into the fairway. But when I got to the area where I expected the ball to be I couldn’t find it. I spent 10 minutes searching through the leaves, walnuts, and other fall foliage that was dotting the fairway but never found my ball. The glories of fall golf: losing a ball in the middle of the fairway.

I took a penalty stroke, dropped, and then had my only three-putt of the front nine. An eight that could have easily been a six or even a five. A six puts me at 90 for the day. A five and I freaking break 90.


I got out again yesterday on the course I’ve played several nine hole rounds on. It was very chilly so I was bundled up, and there was almost no one out, which made it nice. I raced around the front nine in an hour and fifteen minutes. In those 75 minutes I put up my best nine-hole score: 42. I had two birdies through my first seven holes – including a breaking, 30-footer on 7 – before I accidentally looked at my total score and saw I was sitting on 30. I tried not to think it, but I knew if I played the way I had played through the first seven on the last two, I would break 40.


Eight is a par three with trouble on both sides. You have to hit it straight. The fairway was being mowed when I stepped to the tee and the guy pulled his tractor off to let me hit. Would you have guessed that I barely made contact and hit a truly shitty shot that went about 40 yards? Fortunately I hit a decent second shot that rolled up to the green, leaving myself about 45 feet to work with. I hit a really solid putt, but just a hair fast and with a touch too little break. I burned the low edge and then my ball caught the decline and ended up 12 feet away. That sucked. I just missed my come-backer and left myself with a tricky four-footer to salvage a 5. I snuck it in rather nervously.

Then on nine I lost another ball in the fairway. Fucking leaves and low, October sun. A penalty stroke, a terrible chip, and a two put left me with a seven and 42 for the front nine. Which is awesome, when you consider where I was a couple months ago. But ending it that way really sucked knowing it could have been a 40 or even 39.

I made the turn and finally found some traffic., forcing me to wait on the tee box. I smoked my first two tee shots but I was losing confidence elsewhere. I had also never played this half of the course, so every shot was new. On 13 I linked up with another single, a very nice 78-year-old guy who was a delight to play with. Despite the company, my game fell apart. I suddenly didn’t feel comfortable over the ball, my short game went to hell, and my putting was terrible. On the front nine I had six one-putts and only needed 13 total. On the back I never one-putted and needed 20 total putts. And, honestly, I snuck a couple in that were lucky; it could have been worse.

I racked up 50 shots for the back nine, matching my 92 from the week before. I was thrilled about the first nine; upset about the second.

The one generally good thing from the round was that, for the most part, I drove the ball well. I decided to hit driver all day and force myself to stay in my swing. I had a couple that got away to the right, but these were low, cutting shots rather than the high, majestic slices I had been hitting last week. I had three drives over 270, and all three were in play.

I’ve been trying to focus on how good my first seven holes were and build on that, rather than obsess about why my swing disappeared on me on the last 12 holes. A few dreary, chilly, windy days will keep me from hitting balls for awhile, which may be a good thing. I’m hopeful I can get a few more rounds in this season before it gets too cold to get out.

  1. I get my approximate distances from the GolfPadGPS app. Not sure how locked in they are, but they’re close enough for me.  ↩

Weekend/Fall Break Notes

It was a nice, semi-relaxing weekend at our house.

No sports, thanks to fall break. C was supposed to run at the City meet, but her foot pain never fully went away so she chose not to run. Kind of a bummer end to her season. M had finished her cross country season a week before. We are proud of her for sticking with it, as it was a very tough and humbling experience for her. But it served the purpose of helping her to settle in as a freshman and make new friends. We’re pretty sure she won’t run in the future, and are fine with that.

No homework, again thanks to fall break. M’s first quarter ended a week or so ago. We’re still not sure how grades work in high school; do they get proper report cards or do you just check online? We wonder because her first quarter grades have adjusted a couple times since the end of the quarter, so we’re not sure if everything is locked in or not. Regardless, she absolutely rocked her first quarter of high school. She has the best grades she’s ever had and seems to be really enjoying her classes and most of her teachers.

No football Friday, thanks to terrible weather. M hung out with some friends and we took C, L, and a friend bowling.

Saturday evening we went to a local beer hall/barbecue joint to meet our old neighbors for dinner and enjoy the Oktoberfest celebration. It was a perfect, cool mid-fall night for hanging with friends.

Sunday C joined the group of friends she will be trick or treating with to work on their costumes. They are going as 20-some of the 101 Dalmatians.

We had our last swims of the year Thursday night before I turned the heater off in advance of the pool closing process that begins tomorrow. L and I swam for about an hour then watched a movie on the outside TV with the fireplace on. That, my friends, was a outdoor living space triple crown!

This morning I had to kick the furnace on to take the chill out of the air. As always, it is a quick transition from air conditioning weather to furnace weather in Indiana. Hopefully we get a nice, long stretch of normal fall weather and don’t advance straight to coat weather like we did last year.

And I know the question you’re all answering is how is my poison ivy and associated issues? Good news is the rashes are almost completely gone. Looking at my arms, legs, and stomach you would barely know they had been covered in sores just a couple days ago. The downside is that I itched so much and so long that I still have itching spells despite the rash getting knocked down. S said sometimes when you get hit this hard, it takes awhile for your body to realize it doesn’t actually itch anymore. I’m feeling much better today. Especially since I was finally able to sleep last night. Since I started steroids I was getting 3–4 hours of sleep per night, but never more than 90 consecutive minutes. Sunday I was feeling pretty wiped out, but thank goodness I, more or less, slept through the night last night. I did wake several times all itchy, but could get back to sleep rather than lay there for two hours waiting for exhaustion to take over again.

I also had a rather scary 12 hours or so from overnight Saturday to midday Sunday when my heart beat was all erratic. S thinks it was a combination of the steroids, lack of sleep, and having several drinks when we went out that made my heart rebel a little. There were never any other issues, like shortness of breath or chest pain, and it has not come back. It was more annoying than anything, but anytime your heart starts misbehaving it is bound to get you a little nervous. Especially since both my dad and his dad had heart issues later in their lives.

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